University of Nottingham: Web video audience and interaction brings UPBEAT Festival to life

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have supported the development of a new web platform to host immersive events. It features a video audience where people can appear to watch performances and interact with the live acts.

The new web platform, StreamPark has been created for national organisations, recognised theatres, and communities to come together at interactive digital parks, and will host UPBEAT Festival of Culture, Learning and Wellbeing on 22nd July.

The platform has been created by Joel Hall and supported by researchers from the University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reallity Lab. It is being implemented as an extension to the Streampark web platform to enhance and support the experiences of performers, producers and both local and remote audiences, and represents a new way to consume streamed content together.

This project is part of Horizon Digital Economy research into the future of festivals and how technology can enhance the live experience. Dr Paul Tennent is leading the project, he explains: “This project is centred around the fact that festivals and live events are social experiences. Rather than thinking of how to stream content to individuals, we focus on how digital technologies can support the wider social experience of festivals in terms of rich communication between performers and audiences, social interaction among attending friends and family, the sense of being in and belonging to a wider crowd, and support for teams of producers and community volunteers. This is the first step in a project which seeks to rethink the way we experience streamed content together – starting with the web, and moving into VR/360 approaches as the project progresses.”

UPBEAT, forms an interactive ‘digital park’ and will include local artists, community groups, schools and some of Nottingham’s well-known arts organisations, including Nottingham Playhouse, Inspire Music & Youth Arts, Inspire Libraries, and both the University of Nottingham and Trent University. Building on previous StreamPark festivals, here there are more opportunities for interaction – both with a video audience wall, so audiences and performers can see who’s watching (assuming they want to share), and in chat at festival, stage and group levels. Upbeat will help researchers understand how groups consume online festival experiences together and inform the design of our platform.

The event has something for everyone including music, theatre, dance, comedy, poetry and art and centres around a live singing event with inspirational singing leader, vocal coach and choral director Mark De-Lisser.