In this article, we look at how interactive video can help organisations in the arts and creative sector find new ways to reach audiences
The pandemic has had a drastic and long-lasting impact on organisations across the world. In pretty much every sector, they have needed to overcome obstacles in order to continue providing their services to the people who need them – all while keeping their clients and customers safe and without going against government guidelines.
One area of work that was affected a lot was the arts and creative sector. From theatre and art to music and communication, the industry has had to find its own way to deal with the problems caused by the pandemic.
Research has shown that the most dramatic decline in the cultural industries workforce was observed in music, performing and visual arts, where the professional workforce fell by around a quarter between March and June 2020.
Nevertheless, there are recent signs that the arts and cultural sector may start to recover. April 2021 showed the first gradual increase in employee growth within the sector, going up to -15% (from -20%) and rising to -6% (from -11%) by June 2021. Thus, while growth is still negative, there are encouraging signs that employment may rise if restrictions continue to ease and the sector continues to open up.
The pandemic made it hard for live shows and theatre productions, which started to have problems with staff shortages and fewer people coming to see them. This sometimes caused shows to be taken off the air.
Near-Life users, Eight Engines, teamed up with theatre company Carbon Theatre on a project called Sea Girl after the pandemic made it impossible for them to proceed with a live show as they intended. Instead, an interactive video version of the production was created. While it might not be quite the same as a live performance, it has enabled them to launch the production and given them the potential to reach a much wider audience with a truly immersive experience.
Here’s how it happened…
Sea Girl is an online adventure story about sailing around the world. It was inspired by the extraordinary achievements of Laura Dekker, the youngest person to have solo travelled across the world in a sailing boat (from age 14 to 16). Courtney Johnson, producer and founder of Carbon Theatre, created Sea Girl to enable girls to take part in Laura’s epic journey. With interactive technology, the beautifully illustrated game lets players control the experience on their own terms. Through branching scenarios, they can decide what to view and when, helping build confidence in their decision-making.
“It was the best way of doing it,” says Courtenay. “We wanted some kind of recorded version but it didn’t quite work. We wanted it to look beautiful and transport the audience to different parts of the world – which was difficult to do on Zoom.”
By gamifying the show with interactive technology, this ensured that young girls would still have the opportunity to learn and experience the Sea Girl show, while breaking any distancing boundaries. In fact, hosting shows online can bring in a completely different audience to a live show. People across the entire world can take part, without needing to travel to a set venue. This opens the doors to far more people to take part in the experience, which can in turn lead to far more donations and support for your project or business.
On top of this, once you’ve created the interactive online show, your work is done. There is no need for any more work from your team, and a host or teacher is not required to be present when your audience is watching it. However, you can check in at any time to view the insights about how your audience has interacted with the content.
Jack Leigh, who worked on the development and testing of the game for Eight Engines, says:
“It made it a much more rounded experience as opposed to the live show. It’s more engaging.”
“This would not be possible without Near-Life – the whole reason why this was possible is because of the technology [Near-Life] has made.”
You can watch the trailer for Sea Girl below or visit the Carbon Theatre website to experience the full production. It is free of charge but donations are welcome.
The pandemic has caused significant challenges for the arts and creative sector and those who work within them. There is no way interactive video can solve all of them, but as Carbon Theatre has shown, it does offer a way of creating compelling experiences and reaching new audiences.
If you are interested in seeing what interactive video could do for you and your organisation, sign up for a free trial or book a demo with one of our expert CREATORs…