December 20, 2022
6 min read

Our work mentioned on ABC News: ‘Grieving spaces go digital’

This month, our work was showcased on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio for our collaboration with The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust on their fantastic new augmented reality cemetery tour app Discover Cemeteries.

Discover Cemeteries brings the stories within Fawkner Memorial Park to life using animation, audio, live action video and augmented reality. With the app installed on your smartphone, you can learn about the extraordinary lives of people at rest within the cemetery. You can choose between two self-guided tours, or you can explore freely. Read more about the app on GMCT’s website.

It was an honour and a privilege to be involved in bringing these extraordinary stories to life.

Above: The 3D model for the Mortuary Train in Fawkner Memorial Park

Creating an app-based walking tour

GMCT sought a creative partner to help ideate, produce, and deliver a self-guided app-based walking tour of Fawkner Memorial Park. GMCT has the desire to activate cemeteries as public spaces for people to enjoy activities other than just memorialising their loved ones. They also want people to come on-site to discover their history and heritage. The vision for the app, Discover Cemeteries, was to bring to life the extraordinary stories of the people at rest in their care, such as Revel Cooper, Alfred Tipper, Marion Bill Edwards, and Bill Bull.

Above: A snapshot of the behind-the-scenes work on our software

Using the future of technology to explore the past

GMCT sought out our studio because of our breadth of capability, not only in animation and live-action but also in immersive video; augmented reality production. Augmented reality was a unique and highly engaging medium that would set GMCT’s walking tour experience apart.

There were so many stories and so much information. Where did we start? With the first biography, and then the next. We needed to take the time to discover the history at play so that we could deliver an engaging digital experience that melded seamlessly with a real-world exploration of Fawkner Memorial Park and its people.

Above: An aerial view of Fawkner Memorial Park

GMCT’s aim was to represent the diversity of the Victorian community and to represent the experiences they had had over time. As a result, our combined team of researchers reviewed records to find stories that would best represent that diversity. Once these stories were found, the next step was to consult with the appropriate family members, historians, communities, cultural and religious leaders, or societies in order to undergo a consultation for approval to tell these stories.

Above: Doug Ackerly, our interviewee on the life of footballer John Coleman 

The chosen stories were then turned from biographies on a page into scripts, then into creative treatments, and finally, they became activations within the app. While this may sound straightforward, each final activation required a different production pipeline, as the medium of each activation varied – anything from augmented reality to immersive audio.

Activations as unique as their stories

As our CEO Julie Snagg reflected: “We’ve managed to bring in all elements of our company, from developers to creative specialists, our editors, scriptwriters; we’ve all had the opportunity to work on something which is very different. And I probably don’t think it has been done before in Australia. We’re really happy, but more than that, we’re really honoured because it’s such an important piece.”.

Above: An augmented reality composition over the Fawkner Memorial Park, featuring the art of Indigenous Australian artist Revel Cooper

There was no visual style and no storytelling convention that could be consistent throughout; the people we were including on the walking tour required a custom treatment as unique as their lives were. Every activation, every story, every video – animation or live action – every augmented reality experience, becomes a universe unto itself. 

You can listen to the full interview with a representative from The University of Melbourne on the ABC Radio website.

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