Knowledge Exchange: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Knowledge Exchange: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Brigadier David Allfrey MBE, chief executive & producer of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, will be one of the headline speakers at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards in February. Here we find out more about how knowledge exchange helped them...

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual event, staged on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle in August each year. It is an internationally renowned hallmark event which is attended annually by 220,000 people, recorded by the BBC, and is broadcast to around 100 million people. Performers from 48 countries have taken part and using the latest in sound and vision, the Tattoo is very much an “experience” for the visitors.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo aspired to enhance the audience experience by augmenting the production of the show and the venue and also to be a platform for encouraging and promoting new, leading edge technologies year on year.

The company had identified three potential areas of development to enhance the Tattoo, including 3D visual effects, smells and sound. 

Interface partnered the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo with Professor Kenny Mitchell and Dr Oli Mival of Edinburgh Napier University to work on this collaborative project, funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher. Edinburgh Napier brings a wealth of experience in the area of digital and augmented reality. Professor Kenny Mitchell is an imaginer and head of research for Disney UK, as well as a professor within the School of Computing at the University.  Dr Oli Mival is an internationally recognised expert in the areas of Human Computer Interaction, User Experience and Interactive Design.

The project aimed to landscape the novel application of emerging and near to market technologies for potential deployment in The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo live performance (both for the Edinburgh shows and the touring productions).  The end goal was to define and provide a design and integration roadmap for the digital and multisensory augmentation of the audience UX (User Experience) to add a new, never before experienced dimension to an already world leading production. The display needed to enhance the experience of the live user without detracting from the experience of those viewing the performance on TV, DVD and other media.

The use of real time digital AR (augmented reality) in a large scale outdoor live event was the key innovation for the project. Whereas the use of digital audio and visual elements such as lighting and sound have always been used as part of the performance, the project evaluated and explored emerging augmentation technologies (for example real time laser projection mapping and directional auralisation sound “spot lights”) that far exceeded the norm and it is hoped will pioneer entirely unique and innovative visual, auditory and olfactory experiences.

Dr Oli Mival commented: "Working with the team at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been a very interesting and productive process providing an excellent research opportunity in a real world setting. The interdisciplinary project enabled the University to draw on its wide ranging expertise across the School of Computing to explore the best way to augment the audience experience with a variety of potential emerging technologies. We look forward to a continued collaboration to help implement the ideas, insights and opportunities generated by the project work."