Posted by Eleni Sharp on , last updated

Today sees the exciting launch of Civilisations, a landmark BBC Two series, which tells the story of art from the dawn of human history to the present day, for the first time on a global scale.

In addition to the linear television programme there is a strong digital proposition led by BBC Research & Development and BBC Arts. Content and events from cultural organisations across the whole UK will play a huge part in this and we hope to give it festival feel.

The Civilisations Festival is part of the wider Culture UK partnership, which was launched by Tony Hall in April 2017, and this will be one of the first big opportunities for the BBC and arts organisations to work together.

Why is it an opportunity for BBC Research & Development?

BBC R&D were involved in initiating Culture UK, as we have the potential to enable multiple partners to trial ideas and technologies, which will help to build a community of practice with which new ideas can be tested and validated.

The arts sector is hugely collaborative and is open to trying new ideas which makes it fantastic to partner with. It also builds on the collaborations and work already happening with the Manchester International Festival and at the Edinburgh Festival.

This is a unique opportunity for us to be part of a large-scale live project, which we hope will have a huge impact on the media industry.  By increasing the availability and use of our work we will also grow the chances of our ideas and technology transferring out of the R&D space and into the mainstream.

As part of the Civilisation Festival we have produced the following digital elements, which will all be available to try in the coming weeks.

Augmented Reality App

Civilisations - AR App

We are really proud to have launched the Civilisations Augmented Reality app, which we have worked with digital agency Nexus Studios and museums and galleries across the UK to create.  This will be the first of many high quality experiments with AR which will reuse the technology.

Our team have collaborated with over 200 organisations around the UK to 3D scan the artifacts featured in the app. It is packed full of fascinating objects that are being brought to life including Rodin's The Kiss from the National Musem of Wales Cardiff, The Torquay Mummy from the Torquay Museum and Madonna & Child from the National Museum of Scotland. These and many more will all be available for audiences to discover and explore.

My colleague David Johnston has written about the technology, process and feature set within the app.

BBC Media Centre - BBC launches first augmented reality app

BBC R&D - 360 Video and Virtual Reality

BBC R&D - An Introduction to BBC Reality Labs

BBC Innovation Tools

For the first time we have made a range of in-house and third party digital tools available to cultural organisations to help them find new ways of telling stories and enhance their legacy. The tools include the ability to make interactive 360 content, capture user-generated video and even film in broadcast quality with just a camera and a laptop.

Last year we ran a series of workshops around the country training museums, libraries, galleries and archives on how to use the tools, and we are really excited to see so many of them have created innovative content experiences.

The results of their work is going to be made available on BBC Taster and will be badged as part of the Civilisation Festival throughout the next couple of months.

Read what Jessica Driscroll and Bronnie McCarthy have written about the work we have done with cultural organisations.

Story Explorer

A screenshot of the Story Explorer tool, allowing you to explore representations of the human form through art.

The final digital element builds on the fantastic Peaky Blinders project which launched on Taster back in 2016.

This was a great opportunity to produce a more advanced version of Story Explorer - a new way of representing stories on second screen devices. Story Explorer makes it possible for audiences to discover more about their favourite programmes, letting them dive deep into narrative structures or catch up on bits they might have missed at their own pace through the use of text, clips and images.

Civilisations - BBC R&D

What next?

All of these experiences are going to be live in the coming weeks and we can’t wait to find out what audiences think of them. We will be capturing data and analysing how the experiences are being used which will inform future research and projects within R&D, so please have a try and give us your feedback.

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BBC R&D - Culture UK

Culture UK

BBC Connected Studio - Civilisations & the Museum Sector

BBC Arts

Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Arts Council of Wales

Arts Council England

Creative Scotland

This post is part of the Future Experience Technologies section