Interactive Immersive Storytelling

Blending film, AR, and immersive installations for a journey about finding your place in the universe.

scroll

Scope
Screenwriting, Directing, UX, Production, App Design, System Architecture, Experience Design
Extended Trailer.
A brief explainer breaking down the project.
Full Documentation.
A digitized version of the experience from start to finish. 
Overview

Redefining the boundaries of storytelling.

The Space Between is a transmediated narrative experience beginning with a short film, followed by a series of interactive and immersive installations. 

The story follows a young woman named Aster enters a virtual fantasy world created by her childhood best friend, coming face to face with lost dreams, unfinished friendships, and buried memories. After advancing through the levels of the game, Aster must choose between returning to reality or living out fantasy of the road not taken.

The film explores the idea of regret and longing, whereas the interactive installations indulge in the desire to escape and revisit the road not taken. Overall, the experience questions how we define self-discovery, thus making The Space Between a unique shared human experience.

Solution

Create a multi-platform narrative combining linear and experiential media in an individualized user experience. Position users as the protagonist as they navigate the story, balancing emphasis on exploring analog elements while furthering the story through digital content.

A unified transmedia narrative experience beginning with a short film, followed by a series of interactive and immersive installation rooms. Each room contains hidden augmented reality (AR) triggers that reveal more of the story when scanned. Towards the end of the experience, users can choose their own ending to the story. Simple, intuitive, cohesive and highly engaging.

Why Transmedia?

The Space Between​ amplifies this hybrid model of storytelling because it propels the main character’s development arc as she gets immersed into the game world. When Aster gets lost in another fantasy, the audience themselves will also be entirely surrounded in the cosmic world of Dionysia.

Results

A series of rooms referencing themes and events of the film will allow the audience to personally connect to the story and character, and to reflect on the emotions and themes of the film.

Project Background

For their fourth year practicum, a group of RTA Media Production students from Ryerson University formed Delta Epsilon Productions. Over six months, they pitched and developed the transmedia narrative that became The Space Between. 

After passing two rounds of green-lighting from faculty, they spent the next six months creating the short film, augmented reality iOS app, and building the six immersive installation spaces. The final exhibition took place in Toronto in December 2019.

Insights

Interactive and immersive experiences are gaining popularity in mainstream society, where content is typically consumed passively and linearly. However, there isn't much spotlight or emphasis on a narrative-driven transmedia experience using film, augmented reality, and immersive installations. 

How do we develop a cohesive narrative that organically spans across multiple platforms? How do we create an immersive experience balanced between the digital and analog? How do we best utilize both traditional and experiential forms of media to create a smooth, unobtrusive experience? Why does this story need to be transmedia format? 

Landscape
  • Sleep No More: Immersive Theatre 

  • Outside the March: Immersive and Interactive Theatre

  • CNE Lanterns Come to Life: AR App and Art Installations

  • Kusama's Infinity Mirrors: Art Installation

  • Black Mirror's Bandersnatch: Interactive Film

Development

$10k

fundraised

200+

page project bible

Production

1 Short Film

1 Augmented Reality App

6 Installation Rooms

Design

The Entrance

Users enter the lobby area where they check their coats and bags. They are greeted by a team member who hands each guest an iPad and headphones, where The Space Between app is pre-loaded on the start screen. Users are led inside the first installation room, where they sit down and begin the experience.

The experience begins with an introductory voiceover from the 'Game Master', who explains that users will use the iPad as their 'toolkit' to scan objects and unlock more content throughout the experience. Users are also encouraged to be curious and explore the rooms they enter. The app opens the live camera view, guiding users to scan the first object, which triggers the short film that begins the story.

The short film ends as Aster enters the video game world of Dionysia. Subsequently, the interactive experience in the installation rooms begin, positioning users as the character of Aster as they move forward. 

The Game Mission

When users enter the first installation room, a voiceover from her best friend River plays. River explains that the planet of Dionysia was once guided by the light of the Orion constellation. However, dark forces extinguished the light, leaving Dionysia lost in the dark. In order to save Dionysia, users must revive Orion's stars by collecting three Crystals throughout the planet that could be crafted into stars by Hephaestus, the god of fire.

 

A Crystal is unlocked after users discover and scan all AR triggers in an installation spaces. These objects are sequential AR triggers that reveal more of Aster and River’s history through voiceovers and video clips.

The Settings

Garden Room An enchanted garden decorated with props recalling the night River and Aster were stargazing in the backyard, the first time Dionysia is conceived (as shown in the short film). The triggers were a wooden trail sign revealing a flashback of River and Aster exploring the woods, and a map of Dionysia unlocking the first Crystal.

Fire Room — An ominous, intense, barebones re-imagination of Aster's childhood bedroom. The first trigger is a childhood photo playing a voiceover from in-game River, who explains that Aster has now gained the powers of Hephaestus, the god of craftsmanship who will turn the Crystals into stars. She reminds them that "gold is refined by fire", just as "suffering and chaos precede rebirth". 

The second trigger is The Book of Tragedy, which reveals a video clip of River and Aster having a fight in Aster's childhood bedroom about their dreams and the future of Dionysia. River is seen reading the same book in the clip. The final trigger is a blackout poem that unlocks the second Crystal.

Underwater Room — A abstract and surreal underwater-themed space calling back to a scene in the short film on Aster's porch, where River contemplates her next step and expresses her desire to escape. The door and mailbox reference this moment.

 

The first trigger is a marionette (previously seen in a flashback of Aster's childhood room), revealing a video clip where in-game Aster and in-game River finally reunite after a decade. River asks Aster to stay, while Aster realizes  that real-life River has died from staying in Dionysia for too long. Aster's maximum game-time threshold is also rapidly approaching. The final trigger is a treasure chest unlocking the final Crystal.

Once three Crystals are collected, users' screens display an outline of three Crystals, which must be aligned with the three glowing Crystals on the ground.

The Space Between Room — An abstract and surreal representation of the narrative climax holding both literal figurative meaning. Aster/users are caught deciding between reality and the fantasy game world, childhood dreams and adult fulfillments, the road not taken and the road that needs to be taken—all of which are defined by however the users interpret the story. 

Designed with hanging and motion-sensored plexiglass tubes illuminated with colourful LEDs coded to transition at the speed in which users move through the space. When users first walk through, the motion-sensored lights transition quickly. As users pause to complete the next step of the story presented in the app, the lights slow down in a more reflective ambience.

Users choose the ending to Aster’s adventure and decide whether she will 1) complete the game mission, restore the Orion constellation and return to reality, OR  2) exceed the game-time threshold and stay in Dionysia with River forever.

Users then view the concluding outcome of their chosen ending. Although different, both video clips conclude on the Orion constellation.

Galaxy Room — A cosmic and starry room users enter once their respective endings are viewed. Users' screen then display an outline of three circles, which must be aligned with the three glowing circles on the Orion constellation on the ground. When they scan the three glowing circles, a video clip plays, showing a starry sky with the Orion constellationaccompanied by a voiceover from Aster.

For Ending 1, Aster reflects on the idea that despite constellations being fragmented or often lost in the darkness, they’re works of art that are still eternally connected in the grand scheme of the universe, just like her and River.

 

For Ending 2, Aster reflects on how Orion’s belt points to a nearby dog constellation Canis Major, which contains the brightest star in the sky, as well as dying one. She contemplates that if she represents the restored Orion, then River’s dual nature represents dual Canis Major, making the eternal connection of these constellations reflect her forever friendship with River.

When the video clip finishes, it transitions directly to the closing credits and song. After the credits complete, the screen goes back to the opening menu. Users can stay in the galaxy room as long as they want, and are welcome to take photos here.

Results

3

storytelling platforms

Selections & Awards

3

open exhibition days

SOLD OUT

All tickets sold out

Publicity

blogtologo.png
NowTorontologo.png

Johnny Lombardi Creative Endowment Award

RTA School of Media, Ryerson University

  • Instagram