Digital Narratives for Archaeology Research (DiNAR) Project

The DiNAR Project is a joint research project led by the Centre for Digital Heritage, Digital Creativity Labs and York Museums Trust.

The project was set up to produce innovative museum experiences based upon emerging technologies from the creative industries.

Viking: Rediscover the Legend exhibition

The first major output of the DiNAR project will be an AHRC and EPSRC funded VR component for the 2017 Viking: Rediscover the Legend exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum.

Through cinematic VR, museum visitors will be able to experience immersive vignettes of life in the camp of the Viking Great Army at Torksey in Lincolnshire.

The project is informed by archaeological research at Torksey led by Julian Richards (University of York) and Dawn Hadley (University of Sheffield) and will provide archaeological insight as well as emotive personal experiences.

DiNAR Project - Team meeting December 2016

The project team will be working closely with the WEAVER Project, led by University of York’s Creativity Research Champion, Damian Murphy, to deliver a programme of engagement to regional creative practitioners, heritage professionals, VR researchers, and public audiences in 2017.

VR headsets

As part of the research for DiNAR, the team have produced hand-made, custom-built VR headsets for use in a museums context. These headsets have been designed to provide a robust and immersive experience of the VR scenes for the Winter Camp, whilst being in keeping with the ambience of the gallery space. Designed by Gareth Beale and Jon Hook, the headsets are predominately constructed from plywood. These were laser cut by Mark Hough in the Department of Electronic Engineering. 

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The headsets were then hand-finished by Nicole Beale and Gareth Beale. 

VR scenes - visualisation

The visualisations were produced by Guy Schofield, and are designed as stylised cinematic vignettes into daily life at Torksey. 

VR scenes - auralisation

Damian Murphy, Lewis Thresh and Kenneth Brown have worked to develop the audio content for the VR scenes. Lewis Thresh worked with students and staff from Department of English and Related Literature and the Centre for Medieval Studies to record a Norse-speaking script that Julian Richards produced to accompany each of the four scenes. This dialogue has been supported with various sound design content that Lewis has prepared, such as ambiences, animals, and the sound of life in the camp, to complete the immersive experience of the VR scenes. Lewis and Ken worked to test and deliver these soundtracks binaurally, resulting in directional, interactive sound as the viewer moves their head, using headphones embedded in the headset. Damian and Lewis have taken elements of these soundtracks, together with additional location recordings, to build the soundscape heard in the room itself.

Evaluation

The team are conducting a series of evaluation activities for the VR installation, including working with visitors to the exhibition to reflect on the use of VR in a gallery space and a series of in-depth interviews with Viking archaeologists to evaluate the potential of VR for the presentation of research to public audiences. The team will also be delivering four learning workshops through Yorkshire Museum over the next six months, and will produce a suite of training materials from the research.

Further details

Viking: Rediscover the Legend runs from 19th May to 5th November 2017 at the Yorkshire Museum, York.

To find out more about this project, please contact the Centre for Digital Heritage: cdh@york.ac.uk