Wallace and Gromit’s cracking AR story The Big Fix-Up hopes to find new avenues for animated storytelling
The UK’s best-known claymation duo star in a new game by Aardman and Fictioneers, using the latest tech to explore how the creative industry can thrive in a digital landscape.
- Jenny Brewer
- 26 May 2020
- Reading Time
- 2 minute read
Beloved claymation duo Wallace & Gromit are making their first venture into augmented reality with The Big Fix-Up, a new digital experience that hopes bring the franchise to new audiences and experiment with new methods of animated storytelling. Teasing the first animations from the experience today, the experience’s creators – animation studio Aardman and Fictioneers, a consortium of British companies including Potato, Sugar Creative and Tiny Rebel Games, with research support from the University of South Wales – say the project combines augmented and mixed reality (working closely with Unity Technologies), multi-user AR gameplay, in-character phone calls, extended reality portals, comic strips and even a city-wide 3D scan of Bristol (where Aardman is based), with CG animation.
The project is backed by funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), selected as part of the organisation’s Audience of the Future programme, itself a key part of the UK government’s Creative Industries Sector Deal announced in March 2018. This deal declared an investment of over £150 million “across the lifecycle of creative businesses” to fund growth in three areas: places of the future, ie. UK locations of burgeoning creative talent (for example Bristol), to help them compete globally; technologies and content of the future, via research into augmented reality and virtual reality; and creative skills of the future, via a careers programme aiming to open up creative jobs to “people of every background”.
The premise of The Big Fix-Up is that Wallace & Gromit’s latest enterprise Spick & Spanners takes on a contract to “fix up Bristol” but can’t deal with the workload, so enlists game players as “employees”. Via a free app, players step into Aardman’s animated world to help the duo and travel with them on the adventure. The game launches in Autumn 2020 initially in the UK, followed by a global release.
The Big Fix Up also forms part of Boundless Creativity, a campaign by UKRI's Arts and Humanities Research Council that explores the impact of lockdown on culture and the creative economy, and how culture and the creative industries can thrive in a digital age.
Merlin Crossingham, creative director of Wallace & Gromit at Aardman, said in a statement: “Aardman is a multi-faceted creative studio and is just as happy with classic filmmaking as it is with new and emerging technologies. Wallace and Gromit’s heart and soul is in stop motion, but they have often dabbled in the cutting-edge of tech, and this is one of those occasions.” He adds that it takes the characters on a new adventure in a “groundbreaking way”.