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Ones To Watch 2021
FX DigitalFX Digital

FX Digital created a ground-breaking and immersive website for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and its consortium the Audience of the Future (AotF). The AotF group was granted funding by UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to create and distribute a live, interactive performance to a remote audience. The performance, Dream, is a reimagining of the Shakespeare play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The ambitious project combines performance and gaming technology, uncovering new ways for audiences to experience live theatre.

The AotF approached FX Digital searching for a partner to help deliver an immersive ticket marketing website to educate audience members on the performance, enabling them to book tickets through RSC’s website. Further, a virtual lobby area was required to host the pre-performance, stream and post-performance experience. Our goal was to help create the sense of a collective experience for the audience and for the audience to also have their own opportunity to shape this experience.

For the ticket marketing website, we designed an atmospheric forest environment to create intrigue and capture the audience’s attention. With users taking on the role of a firefly in the performance itself and fireflies being a key motif throughout, we used Lottie animations to create the effect of fireflies moving around the screen. This helped to reflect an experience that feels alive from the beginning, immersing the user immediately in the experience. A count-down timer was included to create anticipation for the limited run of performances.

When building the virtual lobby, we wanted to develop an experience that allowed the audience to feel as if they were spending an evening at the theatre, recreating the same buzz and atmosphere theatregoers would expect if they were viewing a performance in person. To enhance the experience, we created a top-down forest journey with interactive tooltips mapped around the forest, which guide the user through what they are about to experience. Not only does this enhance the user experience, but it also provides key information to help the user understand how to interact with the live environment.

The lobby area needed to host two different streams, as users have the option to purchase an interactive ticket or a passive ticket (a free ticket option to ensure everyone can enjoy the performance). This involved complex scenario handling to ensure different versions of the lobby – based on the type of ticket and the type of performance – would display for the users.

The lobby area sets the scene, provides background information on the performance, shows run times, introduces the audience to the characters on-stage and gently guides them to prepare for the show, getting them to settle down, turn the lights off and prepare for the unique experience that awaits them. This area also includes an audience counter, so the user gets the feeling of the collective, as they would in a real lobby at the theatre.

Dream launched on 12th March with a run of ten successful and ground-breaking performances, bringing together talented companies from across a number of creative industries and sectors. This project delivered on the outlined criteria as we created an immersive experience like no other for theatregoers, and considering the circumstances due to the impact of COVID-19, we played a monumental part in bringing this virtual performance to life. FX Digital and the RSC plan to work together in the near future to explore opportunities to deliver more live theatre experiences remotely.

By creating an interactive website experience that played a key part in pushing the boundaries of live performance and setting a new standard for immersive theatre, we have set the stage for creating such an experience for future virtual performances, ultimately opening doors to other theatre production companies that wish to captivate an audience from the very beginning and throughout.

Becoming a CIC CreaTech One to Watch would massively benefit FX Digital as we shift our strategy towards the Connected TV space; a digital industry currently booming as a result of the pandemic. Our focus on premium quality OTT applications for some of the largest global content providers means we are constantly pushing boundaries across all aspects of streaming UX, design, development and quality assurance, and being placed on this list can propel us to an even wider audience of policy-makers, investors and leaders across the creative and tech sectors which can further help us to create ground-breaking work as one of the only few Connected TV development specialists in the UK.

You can view Dream online here - https://dream.online/

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