Immersive pioneers Factory 42 (Hold the World with David Attenborough VR, Painting the Future with the Royal Academy, and the immersive version of English National Ballet’s Giselle) have teamed up with the multi award-winning Almeida Theatre and Sky to create Lost Origin: a unique immersive and interactive adventure that fuses technology and performance, theatre and audience interaction, and physical and digital worlds.
Opening to the public on 21 November 2021 and running until 4 December 2021, with press performances taking place from 10 November 2021, Lost Origin is a unique experience that mixes in-person theatrical performance with mixed reality technology, including Magic Leap, to create a compelling and highly shareable adventure in Hoxton Docks (55 Laburnum St, E28BD).
With funding from UKRI Research and Innovation (UKRI) and input from academics at the University of Exeter, Lost Origin is a research and development (R&D) project designed to push forward state-of-the-art immersive entertainment.
Bringing together visual effects talent with credits spanning The Hobbit, Matrix, Harry Potter and Hunger Games, and uniting a broad range of disciplines – from theatre set designers to animators and gaming coders – the experience turns participants into undercover investigators who need to crack a mystery, which is set in the illegal dark web marketplace. In groups of six, guests weave their way through differently-themed rooms on their extraordinary mission to solve the enigma.
As part of its R&D remit, the experience uses Magic Leap’s augmented reality platform to bring mixed reality into live theatre. Similarly, the experience is a rare use of volumetric capture in a theatrical setting.
Using computer vision, light field scanning and gesture recognition technologies, attendees wearing the Magic Leap headsets will be able to experience the same shared augmented realities from different stand points, even as they move around the room and follow their own path. This has been achieved by fixing digital content to specific physical locations and developing new algorithms for more accurate and immersive content location.
Lost Origin also explores unprecedented ways of capitalising on the otherworldly interplay between physical and digital. Interactive projections, for example, combine state-of-the-art Intel RealSense depth-sensing hardware, AI-based human segmentation and pose detection software from NuiTrack, alongside bespoke gesture tracking and analysis systems that were developed in-house. Another key physical/digital innovation involved integrating set design and code within Magic Leap so that the headset can trigger associated physical actions, such as objects dropping in time with the AR narrative.
Such unchartered integration of technologies and disciplines entailed tight coordination across all departments: from set design, to show control, technical and art development. Combining innovative modes of audio design and lighting production, Lost Origin is brought to life with pioneering combinations of lighting technologies and a generative and immersive soundtrack that pushes the boundaries of sound, bridging real and virtual spaces: site specific and augmented reality. Interfaces that allow gestural control and triggering of sounds work in sync with stunning lighting to create a truly interactive and multi-sensory experience. Such bespoke and expressive landscapes allow audiences to suspend disbelief as they step into Lost Origin’s imaginative, and story-driven world.
The project is part of a research and development process, funded by UKRI’s Audience of the Future programme. Through this programme, the government is supporting the best UK storytellers to research, develop and create engaging immersive experiences. Lost Origin is the final deliverable from the partners who make up this project and have been exploring the future of visitor attractions and experiences. Previously, the partners plus the Natural History Museum and The Science Museum have delivered dinosaur and robot themed mixed reality experiences in the Metro centre in Gateshead. They also worked together to create two augmented reality mobile fun learning apps for younger children. For more information on the Industrial Challenge Strategy Fund, click here.
Factory 42’s CEO & Founder, John Cassy, said: “In light of the surging growth of the experience economy and the opportunity to use new technologies to create new forms of story-led experiences, Lost Origin serves as a proof of concept for the future of LBE (Location-Based Entertainment). For a very limited amount of time Lost Origin offers audiences a chance to step into the unknown, and enter an intimate and magical new type of immersive experience designed by a unique creative team. We’re hugely grateful to UKRI and our other partners for having been given the opportunity to bring the worlds of art and technology together to explore innovative ways to tell stories and create a new type of audience experience.”
Rupert Goold, Artistic Director of Almeida Theatre, said: “It’s exciting to be joining forces with Factory 42 and Sky, two pioneers of their fields, on Lost Origin. At the Almeida, our ambition is to interrogate the present, dig up the past and imagine the future and this project ticks those boxes. Dani Parr, our Director of Participation here at the Almeida, was the perfect person to be the Creative Director of this experience and bring together the latest interactive technology to create a new form of storytelling.”
UKRI challenge director for the Audience of the Future Programme, Andrew Chitty, said: “The integration of immersive technologies, AI, projection mapping, haptics and new forms of interactive technologies into visitor experiences, from museums to theme parks, is incredibly exciting both creatively and commercially. While the pandemic has kept us out of venues, Factory 42 and its partners have been working incredibly hard to bring these technologies together in a dynamic, creative and at times astonishing live experience. Anyone who is interested in the future of museums, galleries, immersive theatre, storytelling and technology will get a glimpse of that future through Lost Origin.”