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AHRC UK-CHINA PARTNERSHIP GRANT: AI-DRIVEN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE

Shaun the Sheep: Developing a Responsive, Spatial, Immersive Experience for Aardman

We are pleased to announce that CAVA is leading an important AHRC UK-China Research-Industry Creative Partnerships grant, which is the second stage of a new international programme seeking to develop research-industry partnerships between the UK and China in the creative industries. The project is funded through the UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) Fund for International Collaboration (FIC).

The programme intends to enable a rapid scaling-up of engagements between the UK and China, with a specific focus on Shanghai as China’s cultural and creative industries powerhouse, in order to facilitate new collaborations that deliver sustained economic, cultural and intellectual benefits in both countries. It will receive £500K FEC from the UKRI/AHRC as well is seeking a cash and in-kind contribution of circa £580K from partners in the UK and China, making it a combined total project value £1.08 million.

The winning project, entitled "Shaun the Sheep: Immersive Experience" is led by Prof Richard Koeck (PI, University of Liverpool) alongside Dr. Shan Luo (CI, University of Liverpool) and Stephanie Owen (Senior Producer, Aardman).

The aim of the project is to deliver a world-first in research innovation (i.e. technical, methodological, creative application) that will enable the development of a prototype Shaun the Sheep visitor experience as a non-linear, real-time, responsive, spatially immersive family visitor experience in Shanghai.   This experience will be unique in that it will be able to be enjoyed by families of all ages, who will be able to interact directly with a Shaun the Sheep story in real time without the need for headsets, gloves or personal devices.  The story will be a true Shaun the Sheep adventure whilst recognising China's cultural context and values.

Prof Koeck says: "We are pleased to be working with Aardman - the UK's leading, BAFTA® and Oscar®-winning animation studio - and the prestigious Shanghai Theatre Academy to develop a genuinely new way of cinematic, AI-driven, spatially immersive storytelling that will have the potential to transform family entertainment experiences in China and globally".  

Stephanie Owen comments: “At Aardman, finding new and innovative ways to tell stories is at the forefront, so we’re delighted to enable family audiences in Shanghai to experience Shaun the Sheep through AI. We’re keen to see how these developments might lead to new opportunities in family entertainment centres, theme parks and visitor attractions throughout China.”

In addition to the research outputs, the project will enable a new collaboration between three academic partners; the University of Liverpool (UoL), Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and the Shanghai Theatre Academy (STA) and the Industry partners (Aardman, Media Industry Association and Digital Fun). It is generously supported by the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC, University of Liverpool); in doing so, the project will link up six research centres/institutes, utilising their complementary expertise for an applied research project with high level industry partners.

About Aardman
Aardman, based in Bristol (UK) and co-founded in 1976 by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, is an independent and multi-award-winning studio. It produces feature films, series, advertising, games and interactive entertainment - such as the ‘visually astonishing’ (The Guardian), BAFTA® nominated console game, 11-11: Memories Retold, and the four-times Gold Cannes Lions-winning StorySign app - and innovative attractions for both the domestic and international market, including a new 4D theatre attraction at Efteling in the Netherlands. Its productions are global in appeal, novel, entertaining, brilliantly characterised and full of charm reflecting the unique talent, energy and personal commitment of the Aardman team. The studio’s work – which includes the creation of much-loved characters including Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Morph – is often imitated, and yet the company continues to lead the field producing a rare brand of visually stunning content for cinema, broadcasters, digital platforms and live experiences around the world. In November 2018 it became an Employee Owned Organisation, to ensure Aardman remains independent and to secure the creative legacy and culture of the company for many decades to come. www.aardman.com

DATE

Monday. 09 Oct 2020

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