Wallace and Gromit go on an augmented actuality journey in an creative new sport


Classic cartoon duo Wallace and Gromit will venture from their clay mation world into ours as part of a new augmented reality experience that aims to push the boundaries of technology-driven storytelling.

Wallace and Gromit: The Big Fix Up interactive app leverages city-scale AR gameplay, augmented reality portals, and comics as it guides the viewer through a narrative about the animated couple who start a business to repair their British hometown .

The creators – a team from Aardman Animations Studio, AR media company Fictioneers, and AKQA's own software developer Potato – hope it will help inspire new styles of non-linear storytelling that is rooted in mixed reality formats like AR are.

Scott Ewings, venture lead and founder of Fictioneers, said the inspiration for the project began with a grant from the UK government to encourage media innovation. The mandate for funding was broad: put together an experience that would benefit future audiences.

"It was one of those really big blank sheet briefs that you very rarely get," said Ewings. "So we've put together a vision to improve storytelling – specifically, how storytelling can evolve using a whole range of transmedia types and playing them in real time."

From there, Fictioneers hooked up with Aardman – the studio behind Wallace and Gromit – and decided that the beloved three-decade-old franchise would serve as an accessible world in which the first test of this new vision could be conducted.

"We felt that Aardman, and especially the Wallace and Gromit universes – these very popular and iconic characters – would do a very good job of turning them into augmented reality objects and experiences," said Ewings. "We felt that augmented reality in particular would be one of the media types and formats we wanted to play with because it fit the story."

The team used the Mixed and Augmented Reality Studio product from gaming developer platform Unity Technology and the AR Foundation toolkit to create the fascinating world in which the experience takes place. They also worked with Sugar Creative and Rebel Games, and received research support from the University of South Wales.

According to Ewings, the team has also developed software that uses user interactions with the story to determine how the game plays in real time.

"With the software we have developed, we essentially decide when content is provided, how it is delivered and under what conditions the individual content is connected to it," he said. "In this way we break the concept of the traditional three-act story apart and begin to build interactions on it."

Ewings hopes to build on the software engine the team developed for the game to perform other experiments in nonlinear story and augmented reality formats, such as: B. narratives that are told simultaneously from the views of different characters or stories with drastically different endings.

The app is coming as AR has seen a surge in popularity with brands and content creators, turning the format to reach diverse consumers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Amazon Prime, HBO, and the BBC recently developed complementary AR games and experiences to promote various TV and streaming titles.


Jeffrey Rabinowitz