StoryFutures Academy FAQs

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How will StoryFutures Academy work in practice?
The National Centre for Immersive Storytelling will run experimental labs, co-fund immersive productions and run placement schemes to help our world-leading storytellers and companies make immersive another UK success story. Experimental Labs will be themed around areas such as documentary, cinematography or design, which will enable us to learn more about how we can use immersive technology to engage audiences and also act as an entry point for established storytellers to see the potential of Immersive. Filmmakers, gamesmakers and TV programme makers will be invited to be part of the labs starting with those who have expressed interest and support our bid, such as Asif Kapadia, Lenny Henry, Georgina Campbell, Sarah Gavron and Alex Garland. In the first instance we will invite people to particpate in these labs but expect to move to an open call for places after six months. In year two we will launch 5-6 short courses based on our learnings and ultimately both NFTS and Royal Holloway will introduce Masters provision in the area of Immersive Storytelling. StoryFutures Academy will publish what we’ve learned from each lab as the aim is to be as open and transparaent as possible during the process. The Centre will also offer paid placements for experts in a range of fields to work with immersive companies. NFTS will use its reputation in traditional film, TV and games areas to engage a whole new group of people to ensure storytelling is at the heart of immersive, drawing on Royal Holloway’s world-leading research base to inform and capture the interventions we make.

How will companies or creators bid for funding for productions? – Is this the only way folk can be part of StoryFutures Academy?
There will be three ways to pitch to the Centre to make productions:
1 – open calls for people who want to make immersive productions in a particular category (for example, drama or documentary)
2 – the centre will issue ‘challenges’ (for example, around haptics or point of view) and there will be a boot camp around that subject and during the boot camp, projects will be identified and selected
3 – StoryFutures Academy will talk to a range of other funders who are supporting Immersive projects like the BFI or the UK Games Fund and will potentially help fund immersive projects they already have got on the go.
Will NFTS/ Royal Holloway announce that they are open for companies or creators to submit ideas to be selected?
Public calls will be issued (advertised on StoryFutures Academy and partner websites/ social media etc.) around themed labs or production ideas in themed areas (documentary/ drama etc.)

Will companies or creators develop their productions at NFTS or Royal Holloway? Not normally – they’ll develop them wherever they are although we will help and support them in both development and production as required. However, if we’ve selected an idea from a director or writer, we might partner them with a production company.

Will the selected productions work with NFTS/ RH students in any way?
When productions are selected, part of the criteria will include giving NFTS/ RH students placements so they can participate. Students and recent grads will also be invited to attend the experimental labs to engage people at different stages of their careers.

Is there an ambition to select projects from a wide range of areas including gaming/ film/ documentary/ theatre?
Part of the challenge for immersive productions is that they collapse traditional distinctions between those art forms – so we’ll be encouraging projects that mix approaches and test out storytelling conventions and innovations in new experiences.

Will NFTS/ RH have a physical immersive building/ department?
There will be an immersive studio/ lab on top floor of one of the state-of-the-art new buildings at NFTS. Royal Holloway will provide an immersive sound lab and facial capture facility for production as well as an audience insight lab. Royal Holloway will begin an ambitious building project to provide a long term home for its work.

If so, what kind of facilities will the department have?
Both universties will invest in new equipment which will include specialist cameras and sound acquisition capability as well as dedicated post production facilities so people can see how immersive productions are stitched together and made. We will show a number of positive examples of how storytelling can be used to engage audiences in immersive productions.


What kind of training will StoryFutures Academy provide?
Initially, training will take the form of placements, including boot camp intensive training, for established screen industry practitioners, experimental labs, work experience placements and shadowing opportunities. NFTS and Royal Holloway will then offer 5-6 short courses after a year of learning from experimental labs. Ultimately, the School and Royal Holloway will launch Masters provision in a range of immersive specialisms.

Will NFTS provide funding/ bursaries for the courses available?
Yes for the short courses. The Immersive Storytelling MA would be funded by the students.

When are courses expected to go live for applications?
We expect to run pilot prorammes of all our training streams before Christmas 2018. Short courses will be available at the NFTS in a year or so and Royal Holloway will launch an MA and MSc in Immersive Storytelling and Immersive Technologies in Sept 2019.

Will training just be available at NFTS in Beaconsfield and Royal Holloway in Egham?
No. We have many partners to enable us to work across the UK at a range of studio and lab facilities. We also want to work with the newly funded creative clusters’ award holders to offer training at university sites across the country. In addition, NFTS will offer training at NFTS Scotland and we’ll also be able to go to wherever people are in the UK to do training where they are located. Bespoke training will also be offered.


What is NFTS’s and Royal Holloway’s vision for the National Centre for Immersive Storytelling?
To make immersive another success story for UK Plc’s world leading screen industries by enabling our world-leading storytellers of film, TV, games and theatre to exploit this new medium. But equally importantly to place diversity at the heart of this new medium, ensuring that the future of immersive storytelling is one that reflects the full breadth of the UK’s creative talent. We want the Asif Kapadia’s, the Georgina Campbell’s and the Alex Garland’s of this world exploring their ideas in immersive environments.

What needs to happen to make immersive technology a success within the creative industries?
to grow immersive experiences we really need to bring more world class storytellers from other disciplines into this exciting new environment, learning from and helping to grow those already doing amazing work in this space


How will NFTS/ Royal Holloway work with named partners including BFI, Sky, Punchdrunk, UK games fund, Imaginarium Studios, Rewind VR, Sony Interactive Entertainment, HTC Vive, Digital Catapult?
A number will participate in experimental labs, some will offer placements and some will support productions.


What role will research play within the centre?
A number of the areas that StoryFutures Academy will be looking into require high level R&D and Royal Holloway will lead on this enabling the centre to draw on engineering, cognitive psychology, innovation models, neuro science as well as in research creative practice.

The Centre is connected to the Creative Industries Clusters Programme, and will look to draw in the cutting edge research from these clusters across the country. We will be appointing a partnership manager who will work to connect StoryFutures Academy’s programme of activities with those of the exciting Clusters’ programme.

partnership between NFTS and Royal Holloway so R&D will be commissioned as a group. When productions are made, Royal Holloway will facilitate audience insight around it through focus groups and behaviour research.


How much funding is being provided for this project and by whom?
£4.75m is provided by the government’s Industrial Challenge Fund and a further £2m is delivered by match funding with all the partners involved. This is in addition to a further £6m in leverage committments raised by the StoryFutures Creative Cluster project that the centre draws upon.

How much funding, either cash or in kind, is being provided by NFTS/Royal Holloway and other partners?
NFTS is putting in approx £250k and Royal Holloway approx £500k – (made up of staff time, overheads and facilities)

Will NFTS/Royal Holloway have to raise additional cash from outside sources?
Yes – we’ll be looking to co-fund productions in immersive

Why is taxpayers money being used to support this? Surely it’s something commercial companies should be doing?
Immersive storytelling is an area the UK can have a competitive advantage in. The technology is growing massively – PwC: “One of our recent reports forecasts that VR in the UK entertainment and media industry alone will reach a value of £801m by 2021, making it the fastest growing and largest VR industry in EMEA.” To be a world leader in this area, we need to make immersive content with storytelling at its heart to stimulate the UK industry as whole. Story is the missing link and the key to unlocking audience enagement in immersive.


How big is the international market for immersive technology estimated to be worth, currently, in 5 and 10 years time?
“Our Partner, ImmerseUK’s, recent report estimates that There are around 1,000 immersive specialist companies in the UK employing around 4,500 people and generating £660 million in sales, potentially representing as much as 9% of the global market share. If UK specialists grow in line with market forecasts, they stand to generate
over £1 billion in sales in 2018. We also estimate that half a million people work in companies with some participation in the immersive economy.
Price Waterhouse Cooper also suggest it is a burgeoning market

What is the potential for job creation through this project, directly ,i.e. employed by StoryFutures Academy and indirectly through harnessing StoryFutures Academy’s outcomes?
Between NFTS and RHUL, the Centre is advertising more than 10 jobs. There will also be a whole range of jobs that will be created as a result of the selected productions.