School of Architecture brings Shaun the Sheep to China

A poster for the immersive experience of Shaun the Sheep

Image source: Aardman

Professor Richard Koeck, from the Liverpool School of Architecture and Director of CAVA | Centre of Architecture and the Visual Arts, delivered a keynote speech at The World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF) in Chengdu, China last month.

Professor Koeck presented the results from a recently completed AHRC-funded collaborative project that produced the concept and prototype for a ground-breaking, cutting-edge, location-based immersive experience. Entitled Shaun the Sheep: The Immersive, this involved working with leading animation studio, Aardman, creators of Wallace and Gromit, to produce an interactive experience for families to enjoy in China.

WCCF is the leading global network of civic leaders from over 40 creative cities across six continents, providing a way for policymakers from cities around the world to share research, innovation and intelligence. The forum explores the vital role of culture as an organising principle for the sustainable city of the future.

CAVA, situated at the School of Architecture, is a unique institution with a global reputation for developing industry-linked, digital, location-based innovations that can transform our engagement with spaces, buildings and urban spaces. Professor Koeck was therefore invited to give a keynote as part of the WCCF’s Film & Digital Innovation Salon, held at a historic site in Chengdu. In his speech, he highlighted the need for and the value of cross-cultural collaborations in the creative industries.

He said: “Location-based experiences are one of several areas of growth that demonstrate how emerging digital creative technologies are creating new opportunities for architectural researchers and the profession to be involved in the shaping of future hybrid spatial experiences.

“It was a pleasure to represent UK Higher Education at the World Cities Forum and promote the University of Liverpool’s cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary activity in architecture and digital media.”

At the global forum, Professor Koeck showcased the results from his recently completed AHRC UK-China Research-Industry Creative Partnership. This project – Shaun the Sheep: Immersive, was a collaboration between Professor Sylvia Pan (Goldsmiths), technology partner FeedAR, a team of experts from the Shanghai Theatre Academy (STA) and the Bristol-based animation studio Aardman.

People taking part in the Shaun the Sheep immersive experience

A test of the Shaun the Sheep: Immersive experience

Being spatially immersed in a multi-screen cinematic setting and using interactive content, Shaun the Sheep: Immersive allows families to follow the journey of Shaun and his sheep friends to get back home from China to Mossy Bottom, using flying contraptions that they built with the help of their new Chinese friends.

This R&D partnership developed ways to transform the delivery of Aardman’s high-end animation work (Shaun the Sheep) from a linear and pre-rendered end-user product (e.g. TV/cinema) into a non-linear, real-time, responsive, spatially immersive experience that can be enjoyed by a family audience in China (with no headsets required). The project has received plenty of international attention and has been already shown at high-profile events in London, Beijing and Shanghai.

Professor Koeck added: “We are pleased that we were able to work 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.”

You can find out more information about Shaun the Sheep: Immersive here.