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Show & Tell Series: Archiving Immersive Content

Feb 23, 2022

28 Jan 2022: Digital Catapult Show & Tell #7

As part of a series hosted by Digital Catapult, this Show & Tell event focused on archiving immersive content – an incredibly complex topic that is relatively under-explored to date. Key questions included: Who is in charge of archiving?; What current archiving practices need to be updated in order to archive immersive content?; How do we mitigate against the continual updating of immersive hardware and software?

Aki Jarvinen (Digital Catapult) together with Joanna Norman and Kate Bailey from the V&A highlighted these challenges. Watch the event recording below and read on for more details on the speakers and the key takeaways from the discussion.

Aki Jarvinen, Lead Technologist, Ph.D., Immersive, Digital Catapult

Aki spoke about the challenges and questions that need to be addressed. Proper documentation is fundamental for successful archival, both in terms of the process of decision-making during the development of a piece and documentation for the recreation in the future. Most of the time, artists do not have the luxury of time to create such assets. Furthermore, hardware and software is being constantly updated so this presents additional work and skills for archivists

Joanna Norman (Senior Curator) & Kate Bailey (Senior Curator and Producer), V&A

Joanna and Kate spoke about the challenges they are currently working through in order to archive the immersive content they are creating in VR, MR but also as live performances. They highlighted the need for archiving to be part of curatorship but also part of the creation from the very beginning. They also highlighted issues that need to be addressed from an institutional perspective such as lack of interoperability between different archiving systems both within institutions and externally.

Key Takeaways

These presentations were followed by an interactive discussion hosted by Maddalena Crosti (Innovation Partner at Digital Catapult). Maddalena summarises the four key takeaways from this very productive discussion below:

  1. We need to answer fundamental questions as an industry such as who is responsible for archiving, how is this done from an engineering perspective (do you stockpile hardware or do you continuously update?), what documentation is needed, what are the processes that need to be established in order to carry this out. People in the audience suggested that open standards will help with this issue, however we need to also consider the legal challenges that archiving immersive content represents, especially given that IP is often shared between different parties.

  2. Archiving should start in the beginning of creation of the content – this represents a big shift in both archiving and in production methodologies. As an industry, we need to think about how we can facilitate this or we risk losing work.

  3. Creators do not have the necessary funding, resources and support to think about this issue however.

  4. Mobile AR is most at risk of not being archived, given that every year software and hardware is updated. This is an issue that is currently not being looked into.

About the Digital Catapult ‘Show & Tell’ Series

For the past few years, Digital Catapult has been running a programme to support the Audience of the Future demonstrators in collaboration with UKRI. The programme includes support such as brokering discounts on software licenses, acquiring free computing power, running collaborative workshops, and conducting research. One of the goals of this programme is to facilitate co-working and shared learning amongst the demonstrator consortia.

Aligned with this, during the second lockdown in March, the Digital Catapult team decided to experiment and run webinars using the Show & Tell format. A wider audience of award winners from Audience of the Future as well as the Creative Clusters was included. In fact, we wanted to encourage broader networking which was especially important during that time of isolation.

The Show & Tell events feature speakers from the immersive industry followed by a facilitated discussion. They are formatted around specific topics, which are for the most part community curated. A section in the registration form is dedicated to proposing a future topic and indicating interest in being a speaker.

By the time the sixth Show & Tell event in January 2022 came around, the Digital Catapult team felt it was appropriate to record and publish these events as the content is informative and thought provoking and useful to current and future industry stakeholders.

Show & Tell events

Below is a list of speakers and topics explored in previous Show & Tell series – prior to #6, there are no recordings, but materials from these sessions can be provided. If you would like more information, have any questions or are interested in participating or speaking at at Show & Tell event, please contact maddalena.crosti@digicatapult.org.uk.

Show & Tell #1 (5 March 2021)

Topic(s): Inclusive Design: Practices and Lessons Learned, Inclusive Design: Building from Individuality, Drawing on drawing: An exploration of the study of drawing without the visual channel.

Speaker(s): Will Humphrey (Sugar Creative), Lisa Bowers (Open University)

Show & Tell #2 (27 March 2021)

Topic(s): The UK at Home Audience for Virtual and Augmented Reality

Speaker(s): Aki Jarvinen, Digital Catapult

Show & Tell #3 (30 April 2021)

Topic(s): Digital Humans: Embodiment and Creation, Introduction to Metahuman Creator, Using Virtual Humans to Develop Real Human Skills

Speaker(s): Jamie Mossahebi (Epic Games), Ruth Hill and Chris Mallet (BodySwaps)

Show & Tell #4 (18 June 2021)

Topic(s): Immersive Audio: Interactivity and Tools, Non-verbal Interaction in Virtual Reality, VASAR

Speaker(s): Non-verbal Interaction in Virtual Reality

Show & Tell #5 (16 July 2021)

Topic(s): Commercialisation: Entering New Markets, Bringing Dislectek to Market, Straddling multi B2B Markets

Speaker(s): Ally Low (Lowtek Games), Ben Sainsbury (Marion Surgical / AoTF PIIC)

Show & Tell #5 (16 July 2021)

Topic(s): Commercialisation: Entering New Markets, Bringing Dislectek to Market, Straddling multi B2B Markets

Speaker(s): Ally Low (Lowtek Games), Ben Sainsbury (Marion Surgical / AoTF PIIC)

Show & Tell #6 (21 January 2022)

Topic(s): Licensing Immersive Content, Licensing Someone Else’s IP, Building an Immersive Distribution Pipeline: Monetisation through Publishing and Exhibitions

Speaker(s): Alex Winterbotham (experienced freelance producer), Danielle Giroux (Astrea Immersive)

Summary and recording:

Show & Tell #7 (28 January 2022)

Topic(s): Archiving Immersive Creative Content

Speaker(s): Joanna Norman and Kate Bailey (V&A Museum), Aki Jarvinen (Digital Catapult)

Summary and recording: https://audienceofthefuture.live/2022/02/show-and-tell-archiving-immersive-content/

Main image photo by julien Tromeur on Unsplash