The project began life as an R&D collaboration with Newcastle University to explore whether the immersion offered by the latest tech could help drive education and engagement between the church and the community. There were two sessions planned – one was a pure research session while the second saw us hosting workshops and before contributing to a live, experimental performance.
This project was unusual in that nearly all the work was done on site and not at the studio. That meant uprooting desktop PCs and taking developers and designers across the country and out to a centuries-old church.
The adventure began with using photogrammetry to build 3D models of the church and key points of interest in and around it. These were to form the basis of a projection mapping show that featured live 3D lighting effects to bring the building to life.
Other animation to be projected on to the church included digitised images from medieval records that were mixed with present-day scenes, all soundtracked by a live ambient and electronic score.
Between the two multi-day visits there were workshops with children who worked on creating their own ancient creatures by hand. The resulting models were 3D scanned and placed into a Unity 3D environment and displayed in mixed reality using Microsoft’s Hololens. The environment sensing abilities of this ambitious headset allowed us to trigger sound, also created by school children, to play as the user approached the creatures.
The people of Heckington who got involved in the project relished getting their hands on the latest technology. There was an enthusiastic response from audiences too; it was incredible to see centuries of history being reimagined and revitalised by the technology of today.
This was an unusual combination of a historic setting and source material that dated back centuries coupled with cutting edge technology and techniques.
After the success of the first programme of R&D in Heckington, Draw & Code were invited back to expand on the project with a second mixed reality installation in the same venue a year later.