4 XR Projects From UK-Canadian Collaboration Debut at SXSW 2022

Way back in August 2020 gmw3 reported on the launch of a new initiative to bring together UK and Canadian creators with a focus on immersive storytelling. Called the UK-Canada Immersive Exchange in 2021 six projects were awarded funds – from a prize pool of £300,000 GBP – towards further development. With the annual SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, now underway, four of the projects make their public debut.

Acorn. Image credit SXSW

Chosen as part of the SXSW XR Experience, the four “prototype projects,” which each received £25,000 were Acorn, Alone Together, Gloaming, and Radio Ghost. They each showcase the variety that can be achieved with XR storytelling. Acorn utilises augmented reality (AR) whereby players plant an acorn and experience the fullness of its life as it grows to an ancient oak. Alone Together also embraces AR, which has been “Inspired by the concept of family rental agencies that provide fake family members to lonely people seeking companionship.” Mixing theatrical storytelling with user interactions, players get to engage with virtual beings whilst navigating what’s real.

Gloaming, on the other hand, is virtual reality (VR) based. It’s a one-hour multi-site VR and live performance experience connecting two groups in different parts of the world. Each is in a multisensory art installation, with one group joining at dawn and the other at dusk.

The final prototype project to be selected for SXSW’s “XR Experience” category, Radio Ghost, is entirely spatial audio-based. Inspired by the Japanese concept of Tsukumogami, Radio Ghost is a ghost-hunt that uses binaural sound and multiplayer game design to transform shopping centres into immersive spaces.

Alone Together
Alone Together. Image credit SXSW

The other two projects that were part of the UK-Canada Immersive Exchange were The Galaxicle Implosions and Intravene. These were “audience-ready projects”, receiving £100,000 in funding. The Galaxicle Implosions is an episodic, animated sci-fi comedy series that’s performed live simultaneously in front of three separate audiences (VR, in-theatre and YouTube). While Intravene uses binaural 360 degree sound to create its two-episode immersive audio experience. 

The main SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, begins this Friday 11th March. The SXSW XR Exhibition is slightly shorter, running from 13th – 15th March 2022. If you’re attending the event the XR exhibition is open to all badge holders. For further updates on the latest XR experiences making their debuts at film festivals, keep reading gmw3.