Innovation Through Collaborative Audience Research
In this paper Dr. Helen Davies and Dr. Bronwin Patrickson discuss the range of benefits and challenges encountered, as well as the workarounds negotiated during a UKRI funded, Audience of the Future R&D demonstrator project designed to further develop digital storytelling practice within the UK Creative Industries. The Audience of the Future initiative has enabled the University of South Wales (USW) to collaborate with a consortium of creative commercial practitioners dubbed Fictioneers. Using the popular Wallace and Gromit IP, the consortium will draw upon their combined skills in games production, animation, creative marketing and new technology development to create a location-based experience designed to propel new and playful identities for a traditional narrative media. Using transmedia elements such as comics, YouTube videos and mobile tools, these enhanced experiences aim to engage new audiences and provide innovative ways for long term fans to interact with media favourites. The university is providing research and development support for this collaborative effort through audience research, documentation services, analytic expertise and a space for reflection.
Collaborations between University humanities researchers working together with the private sector have become more common-place, often motivated by funding initiatives such as the United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) Creative Cluster strategy. This multi-million pound capacity building fund purposefully promotes research and development Creative Industry Partnerships as a way to foster cross-sectoral innovation. By providing opportunities for inter-cultural learning, student and civic engagement, as well as regional social cohesion and cultural capital development (Williams et al., 2017), these sorts of partnerships offer many potential rewards.
They also pose a number of challenges. Universities and industry are likely to bring different cultures, values, motivations, expectations, even different languages (definitions and understandings) into these sorts of collaborations.
This conference presentation is delivered by the two researcher authors, Dr. Helen Davies and Dr. Bronwin Patrickson who take it in turns to present their individual contributions to this paper directly to camera. This ‘talking head’ style is also overlaid and intercut with sample observational documentation footage of the behind the scenes collaborative development process including extensive audience research and Fictioneers’ own promotional preview videos.
Williams, A., Dovey, J., Cronin, B., Garside, P., Flintham, M., Smith, M., . . . Taylor, F. (2017). The Hidden Story: understanding knowledge exchange partnerships with the creative economy.
In this virtual masterclass, Dr Helen Davies and Dr James Rendell presented on their current roles as researchers partnering with Fictioneers in collaboration with Aardman on the new Wallace & Gromit: The Big Fix Up augmented reality project. The talk considered the dynamic nature of collaboration between academia and media industries, how Covid-19 has impacted on working relationships, and the digital tools facilitating new approaches to audience-based research.