A DAY AT EXETER CATHEDRAL – 15 OCTOBER 2020
There was bright sunshine on Thursday 15 October when Exeter Cathedral welcomed RedBalloon Productions and their cameras, from Bournemouth University. With the help of the University of Exeter team, the aim was to use image to explain the importance of VISTA tools at this historic site. A full day of filming during which the Dean, the Canon of the Cathedral and several other key players in the project agreed to share their experiences and knowledge of the site and project during interviews.
We then shadowed the steps of a visitor experimenting with the various VISTA devices created for the Cathedral. Her visit began with an exploration of the premises using the tablet-based audio guide system. In her ears, the voice of a pilgrim tells her the story of the building and its components; before her eyes, through the device, the figures of the minstrels’ gallery come to life to play the harp, the statue of St Peter appears and describes the west front and its colours… A real immersion to the past thanks to AR and VR.
And it was not without bravery that our explorer tried the walk of faith and crossed the ‘plank’ on the Cathedral’s roof.
This video clip aims to give an overview of all the devices, their connection to the building that houses them and the interactive nature of these experiences, but above all to show that technologies do not necessarily go against the old, they can also enhance it.
This day was also an opportunity to rediscover the Cathedral at a time of change. A walk under a 96m high vaulted ceiling, in the light of brightly coloured stained glass windows, which was all the more pleasant as it was carried out in a safe environment thanks to the measures put in place to allow everyone to enjoy the visit in complete safety.
It is impossible to miss the security signs displayed at the entrance or the directional arrows indicating the path to follow.
Although discreet, hydro-alcoholic solutions are distributed all over the building.
Generous people who wish to make a donation also have the option of using contactless payment.
And each tablet is disinfected before and after use with a suitable wipe (following the advice previously listed in our article ‘Getting your site up and running with VR and AR’).
The obligation to wear a mask and respect social distance makes it more difficult to communicate discreetly; groupings in small chapels, for example, are no longer possible and finding a place that does not hinder visits, let alone cause too much echo, is sometimes a challenge, confessed one volunteer. Nevertheless, despite these constraints, the Cathedral staff always find a way to welcome and listen to those who come to meet them.
To conclude this presentation, here are a few photos taken on site.
Since this article was written, the UK government has announced a new lockdown. We wish the Cathedral the best of luck with navigating this new challenge and hope that visitors will continue to flock to the site when it is safe to do so.