Shaun the Sheep

Immersive Experience

Our aim is to deliver a world-first in research innovation, that will transform the delivery of Aardman’s high-end animation work, Shaun the Sheep, from a linear and pre-rendered end-user product, into a non-linear, real-time, responsive, spatially immersive experience. This experience can be enjoyed by a wide (family) audience in China, without the need for headsets, gloves or pre-rendered animation, whilst recognising China’s cultural context and values in the realisation of this work.

The animation market is increasingly challenged by changes in media consumption and modes of distribution. This innovation will focus on the development of shared experiences for the family entertainment market, that will turn the passive observers of screen-based storytelling into active participants. We will create a novel, digital-physical spatial experience, that embodies the spirit, ethos and participatory nature of games built around interaction, responsiveness and immersion. With the global games audience estimated between 2.2 and 2.6 billion (UKIE), and a significant number of these users based in China, we believe that this project will catalyse the development of transformative approaches to engaging animation audiences, in novel and more participatory experiences.

This research links three significant domains of knowledge in the family entertainment market, which can be expressed as a simple equation: Audience + Animation + Space + Games Technology = narrative, interactive, spatial experiences. Facilitating this, the project will combine research and creative practice expertise from the fields of animation, architecture, creative media arts, theatrical arts, engineering, AI and robotics, as well as gaming.

Combining immersive spaces with real-time audio-visual content currently has precedence within media art installations, however, our audience-focussed, spatially immersive, and responsive approach to storytelling, differs substantially from what we might have called in the past “immersive cinema”. Furthermore, due to the application of a quasi-intelligent system (supported by AI) we are developing new territories for Aardman and the wider animation sector.

By combining the “scalability” of film/animation with the “intimacy” and responsiveness of immersive experiences, we are seeking to redefine the term “mixed reality”, providing a scalable concept that could generate significant impact within and beyond the creative industry sector. In the context of this project, we are calling our approach “responsive cinema”.

Research Questions & Methodology: Our research raises critical practice-based research questions in the following six areas: WP1 Story & Conceptional Realisation; WP2 Dynamic Content Creation; WP3 Game & Interaction Design; WP4 AI & Sensoring; WP5 Target Audience; WP6 Space Integration – all of which will require a uniquely tailored, interdisciplinary methodological approach.

Project contact

Richard Koeck


Team name
Professor Richard Koeck, University of Liverpool, CAVA (PI)
Dr Shan Luo, University of Liverpool, Computer Science (CI)
Dr Marina Guo, University of Liverpool, CAVA (research consultant)
Dr Iain Cant, Virtual Engineering Centre, University of Liverpool (research consultant)


Partner name
Stephanie Owen, Aardman (Partnern), Senior Producer
Lorna Probert, Aardman, Head of Interactive Production
Ami Davis, Aardman, Production Assistant
Prof, Huang Changyong, Shanghai Theatre Academy, President
Prof. Zhang Zhixing, Shanghai Theatre Academy, Dean, Digital Programme
Chen Ruokun, CEO, Digital Fun

Supported by

Event partners

[membership level="1203,1389,3108,4274,4864,5178,5284,6220,6312" show_noaccess="true"] [/membership]