StoryTrails, the UK’s largest immersive storytelling experience, invites residents and visitors from 15 locations around the UK to explore untold stories of their town through ground-breaking multimedia technologies. From 1 July, local residents of Omagh are invited to participate in the launch of StoryTrails’ UK-wide 15-stop tour, as part of UNBOXED: Creativity.
On 26 June at Sheffield DocFest 2022, TV presenter, historian and Executive Producer of StoryTrails David Olusoga, took part in an event with Sheffield based creatives to mark the launch of StoryTrails, the UK’s largest immersive storytelling project. The talk ‘David Olusoga: StoryTrails – A Journey Through Time and Space’ took place in the Sheffield City Hall (Memorial Hall) and saw a full house of attendees. The panel was chaired by presenter Emma Dabiri, in discussion with StoryTrails Exec Producer, David Olusoga, Producers, Sile Sibanda and Gemma Thorpe alongside Head of Inclusion, Angela Chan, Kim-Leigh Pontin, Creative Director at Nexus Studios and BFI’s Head of Audiences, Ben Luxford. This opening event demonstrated the public’s excitement surrounding StoryTrails, ready for its official launch in Omagh on 1 July.
StoryTrails begins with a free two-day live event taking place on 1 and 2 July. Centred around Omagh Library and on the streets of Omagh itself, it features digital experiences which will allow local people to experience their hometown of Omagh in a completely new way through the magic of augmented and virtual reality.
An augmented reality trail, specific to Omagh and accessed through mobile devices, is based around the question ‘should I stay or should I go?’. It explores reasons that people have left the town through 6 decades of Omagh’s history, using local and national archives, from cine movie and home video collections to those of the BBC and British Film Institute, to offer a window into the past.
The result is an insight into the changing fortunes of Omagh and its population told by ordinary people, from the closure of the railway to lack of employment opportunities. Locals Kathy Dunphy and James McAnespie, from the present day, enthusiastically share their optimism for the future of the town. The trail is narrated by well-known Northern Irish genealogist and tour guide, Vincent Brogan, and is available to download throughout 2022.
Omagh-based creative talent, Cat Brogan, daughter of Vincent Brogan, helped develop the content for an immersive 3D digital map of the town that features stories focused on well-known buildings, such as St Lucia Barracks and the Governor’s House Omagh Gaol, both 19th-century, seen in a new light. The map is accessible in the library during the live event and online throughout 2022.
Cat was one of just 50 emerging creatives around the UK to be selected to take part in the development of StoryTrails and benefit from expert training and mentoring opportunities. She said: “I grew up in Omagh, and my work on StoryTrails has given me an incredible opportunity to understand more about the town through the powerful stories of local characters. I hope others will enjoy diving into the lesser-known heritage of our town from July.”
Time travel continues inside the library across the two live event days, when visitors enter digitally created worlds via a virtual reality (VR) headset. They can expect to find themselves in the shoes of a rebellious teenager as she discovers her mother’s punk past; take part in one of the many South Asian daytime raves that took place across the UK in the 1980s and 1990s; and hear what early generations thought life would be like today. All the stories featured on the VR headsets are available at every stop on the StoryTrails UK tour.
Historian and television presenter David Olusoga narrates a further AR experience that invites visitors to turn a dial on a virtual giant radio and travel back in time, from Beatlemania and the flares and haircuts of the swinging sixties, to dancing to the end of the millennium in crop-tops and trainers audiences can experience a potted history of Britain through the decades.
StoryTrails – See Omagh Differently
Friday 1st July (11:00-19:00) & Saturday 2nd July (10:00-18:00) 2022
Omagh Library, 1 Spillars Place, Irishtown Road, Omagh BT78 1HL
Find out more about all of the 15 StoryTrails locations here.
This innovative project is led by StoryFutures Academy, the National Centre for Immersive Storytelling, and developed by teams of leading technologists and creatives brought together for UNBOXED: Creativity, a four-nation celebration of creativity taking place in 2022.
Professor James Bennett, Director of StoryFutures and StoryTrails, said: “This is about getting people excited about where they live – helping them connect with stories of their town from the past and present through a new lens. New technologies like AR and VR can help build these connections and reignite people’s passion for the past. These technologies are for everyone – we want to find ways to engage people from all generations and spark a genuine celebration in each of our incredible locations.”
Martin Green CBE, Chief Creative Officer UNBOXED: Creativity, said: “StoryTrails is one of ten ground-breaking UNBOXED projects taking place in 2022 that demonstrate the power of creative collaboration across science, technology and the arts to create extraordinary and never-seen-before public experiences.”
StoryTrails runs across the UK from 1 July to 18 September 2022 and culminates in a new film presented by David Olusoga that will screen in cinemas across the UK and BBC iPlayer. The StoryTrails app, augmented reality story trails and immersive maps will be available throughout 2022 at www.story-trails.com.
UNBOXED: Creativity is funded and supported by the four governments of the UK and is commissioned and delivered in partnership with Belfast City Council, Creative Wales and EventScotland. Unboxed2022.uk
Omagh – 1st and 2nd July
Dundee – 7th and 8th July
Dumfries – 12th and 13th July
Blackpool – 16th and 17th July
Bradford – 22nd and 23rd July
Sheffield – 27 and 28tth July
Lincoln – 30th and 31st July
Wolverhampton – 6th and 7th August
Swansea / Abertawe – 10th and 11th August
Newport / Casnewyyd – 13th and 14th August
Bristol – 20th and 21st August
Swindon – 27th and 28th August
Slough – 3rd and 4th September
Lambeth – 10th and 11th September
Lewisham – 17th and 18th September
Keep in touch with the latest StoryTrails news – Facebook and Instagram @StoryTrailsProject. Twitter @StoryFuturesA
StoryTrails is a unique immersive storytelling experience, where untold stories from the past are brought to life through the magic of the 3D internet using augmented and virtual reality to reanimate public spaces in towns and cities across the UK. Audiences will time-travel via the wonder of new technologies to experience untold local histories where they happened. StoryTrails is led by StoryFutures Academy which is run by Royal Holloway, University of London and the National Film and Television School (NFTS).
StoryTrails is one of 10 projects commissioned for UNBOXED: Creativity, a ground-breaking celebration of creativity in 2022 that will bring people together and reach millions through free, large-scale immersive installations and globally accessible digital experiences in the UK’s most ambitious showcase of creative collaboration.
StoryTrails will culminate with a specially commissioned film by David Olusoga which will screen in cinemas across the UK and be made available to audiences on BBC iPlayer.
StoryTrails is delivered in partnership with the British Film Institute (BFI), broadcaster and filmmaker, David Olusoga, the BBC, Uplands Television, and leading immersive specialists ISO Design and Nexus Studios. It will use cutting edge technology from Niantic, makers of Pokémon Go, and it will be brought to life in The Reading Agency’s national network of libraries and by event-making specialists ProduceUK.
StoryTrails runs 1 July – 18 September 2022. For further details go to story-trails.com