Around the end of 2017 All Seeing Eye, made up of four team members, proposed an historically accurate XR experience that explores virtual reality, physicality and is set on a large WWII aircraft called the G-George. Resident Olie Kay shared with us the processes they went through to create The Dam Busters.

Five Things I Learned:

1. After carefully considering several historical events, including the Hiroshima bombing and the actions of 300 Polish bomber squadron, All Seeing Eye decided to retell the story of The Dam Busters, an attack by the British Royal Air Force on German dams during World War II. It was important to recreate the story through an objective lens and there was also a level of sensitivity and appropriateness that needed to be considered, for example it wouldn’t be appropriate to allow the museum goers to play it like a game or encourage them to shoot guns and drop bombs. 

2. They examined many primary accounts, read historical books, watched films and visited the IWM Duxford. However, sources they initially thought were accurate were not, sometimes different accounts completely contradicted each other and they found that some things are still completely unknown. Throughout the research process they kept checking in with historians and experts to ask, would scenario A or B have happened? From there they began to assemble a basic timeline of the mission.

3. They then started mapping out the distances and the flight path of the aircraft using Google Maps of the dam. They cross-referenced this with records of the craft’s air speed and worked out the timings and the approximate range of the guns. The aircraft, objects and landscapes all had to be built to scale, so they used open sourced landscape scan data to work out the altitudes. They also worked with Polish artist Piotr Forkasiewicz who makes incredibly detailed aviation model aircrafts to create the prototype of the set.

4. All Seeing Eye did consider adding an interactive element to the piece, but decided to rule it out, as it would interfere with their aim of creating a historically accurate piece. Another consideration they ruled out was creating a tutorial for users as this would immediately break the immersion. They developed a linear story line, which didn’t require the user to do anything that would need a tutorial. Practical considerations included the safety of users moving about the set aircraft and avoiding anyone tripping or banging their head on the physical set.

5. Sound was critical, they sourced sounds from on board a real Lancaster aircraft and spatialized all the elements of the sound. This means it isn’t a stereo mix, it animates in real time depending on where you are in relation to it. Haptics was another important element. The user wears a Sub Pack during the performance which utilises vibrations to mimic the sound of the machine guns, beta-frequencies as well as having a subwoofer in the physical set which also adds vibrations and feedback. It is also used to emphasise and heighten certain moments in the story.

The Dam Busters will be available in the Studio to try over the next couple of weeks and you can follow what All Seeing Eye are up to by following them @allseeingeyeltd.

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