5th International Conference

Digital Culture & AudioVisual Challenges

Interdisciplinary Creativity in Arts and Technology

Hybrid - Corfu/Online, May 12-13, 2023

Augmented Reality as a tool for location-based narratives in Documentary films: Potentials for creating new forms of cinematic narratives
Date and Time: 12/05/2023 (17:45-19:30)
Location: Online
Argyro Papathanasiou
Keywords: Augmented Reality, Location based narratives, Cinematography, Documentary Film, Cinematic AR, Cinematic narrative, XR

This paper explores the potential of using Augmented Reality (AR) technology as a tool for creating location-based narratives in documentary films. The objective of this study is to investigate how AR technology can enhance the documentary film experience by creating a more engaging and informative medium of storytelling, as well as placing the viewer in the center of the action.
It is true that AR has gained significant attention in recent years due to its potential to overlay virtual objects or information on the real world. Thanks to technological advances, the storytelling type of Location-based narratives is gaining popularity, providing the audience with a more interactive experience, since it allows them to explore and discover the story in their own way.
Documentary films on the other hand, are non-fiction films intended to educate, inform, or raise awareness about a particular topic or issue. They are often used as a medium to convey real-life stories and experiences, which can be powerful in terms of creating empathy and understanding in the audience. However, the traditional format of documentary films, -i.e., the linear narrative- can be limiting in terms of engaging the audience and providing them with a unique and immersive experience. Additionally, the traditional format does not allow the viewer to connect the documented event with the actual (real / physical) space where it took place.
The potential of using AR technology in documentary films lies in its ability to create immersive experiences that engage the audience and provide them with a unique perspective on the story. By creating location-based narratives, the audience can explore and discover the story in their own way, which can create a more personal and emotional connection to the story. AR technology can also be used to provide additional information about the location or story that can enhance the viewer's understanding of the topic or issue being explored in the documentary.
The study aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the effectiveness and engagement of using AR technology to create location-based narratives in documentary films. To explore the above potentials and reach an initial conclusion, a combination of methods is proposed that combines qualitative and quantitative data collection methods, as well as the creation of a case study based on an original concept and script. The qualitative component includes a literature and case studies review, as well as interviews with filmmakers and experts. The quantitative component involves surveys and experimentation with self-report measures. The creation (design and development) of the case study using AR technology instruments such as AR-enabled mobile devices, AR SDKs, and location-based services, is considered a crucial step as it allows us to study the creation process but also to capture the differences compared to the creation of a traditional documentary.
The theoretical framework presented in this paper highlights the importance of exploring innovative technologies such as AR to enhance the documentary film experience. The findings of this study may broaden the horizons for filmmakers, AR technology developers, and researchers interested in exploring the intersection of documentary films, AR technology, and location-based narratives. Ultimately, this study seeks to contribute to the growing body of knowledge about the use of AR technology in documentary filmmaking and location-based narratives, and to inform future developments in this field whilst aiming to enrich the spectrum of innovation using XR in documentary creative process leading to new forms of cinematic narratives.

Argyro Papathanasiou

Argyro Papathanasiou. BASc in Music Technology and Acoustics engineering (TEI of Crete). M.A. in Art & VR (ASFA & Paris8). Currently she is a PhD candidate at the School of Film (AUTh), focusing on XR systems in Documentary films and Location Based Narratives. Her individual and team work have been presented in several conferences and festivals (incl. IEEE VR, International Conference FOE etc). She is co-founder and Managing Director of ViRA company. Since 2019 she works with Pausilypon Films and Documatism NPO as XR Production Director, and with the Studio Bahia organisation in the US as an XR designer.

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