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Train the Trainer

Train The Trainer Elaine edit


Following the success of the work of a first cohort of 7 university projects across the UK, StoryFutures Academy Train the Trainer initiative is announcing a second call. This is to enable more universities to explore innovative new ways of creating teaching materials and developing courses in immersive storytelling in response to skills shortages and a critical need to build a talent pipeline in the UK.

Train the Trainer was launched in response to work on skills analysis carried out by StoryFutures Academy in its first published report, ‘Skills for immersive experience creation: Barriers to growth in the UK’s Immersive Economy. Key findings include: 97% of companies reported a skills shortage in the sector; 44% said they were worried there are not enough graduates with the right skills; 65% say that skills gaps are a barrier to growth.

The overall aim of the initiative is to support the growth and development of UK trainers and talent so that immersive can fulfil its potential in the UK with a creative workforce that is highly skilled in the use of VR, AR and MR.

Executive Producer Amanda Murphy says, ‘The projects that are being developed by interdisciplinary teams from Abertay & Hertfordshire, Bath Spa, Falmouth, Sussex and UCL alongside Royal Holloway University of London and National Film & TV school projects, are incredibly exciting and show real promise of delivering innovative new teaching tools and materials around these new technologies and immersive storytelling.’

The scheme provides an unique opportunity for educators from institutes all across the UK to work together collaboratively, so headway can be made more rapidly to open doors and develop innovative new courses for this new and growing sector. Those who apply in the second round of funding, will also benefit from the work of cohort one which will be showcased In January 2021.

Funding: The scheme supports applications with a maximum £17,000.

Successful applicants from this call will make up the second cohort of the programme.

The call will close on Thursday 17th December 2020.

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Cohort 1


StoryFutures Academy is led by the National Film & Television School and Royal Holloway University of London. Our overall aim is to support the growth and development of a UK-wide talent-pipeline to help make the UK a world-leader in immersive storytelling. Much of that work includes training and up-skilling those from film, TV, and games, to harness the talent of established storytellers, and to provide as many onward opportunities with funded professional placements on immersive productions, Kickstart and Production Booster funding schemes and Co-production opportunities.

Key Themes

All projects must address immersive storytelling challenges – broadly conceived – such as exploring established or emergent storytelling forms e.g. point of view, editing, spatial sound and attention, haptic engagements etc.

The scheme's areas of focus include (but are not limited to):
1. Interdisciplinarity, from STEM to STEAM: Projects or workshops that deliberately fuse arts with the sciences to promote interdisciplinary team building, bring together teams from disciplines such as computer science and media; engineering and drama; art and design; and physics.

2. Game Engines in new contexts: Projects or workshops that use real time game engines and/or gaming mechanics in collaborative storytelling contexts with other screen industries, such as film, television, theatre and music.

3. Key Skills: Projects or workshops that address areas where skills are seen as crucial to successful projects and/or gaps have been identified as an industry concern, such as programming, business development, real time game engine technical artists, interaction designers, creative directing, producing, UX Designer, Motion/Volumetric capture artists, or interactive writers. Projects that tackle more than one key skills role are welcome.


The scheme is open to educators in HEI whether they are on teaching-led contracts or research-led contracts. Applicants should ensure the project they are proposing is fitting to the contract they hold (i.e. those who are on teaching led contracts should consider submitting a workshop-led project, while those on research-led contracts (or practice led) may be more suited to a prototype/(practice-led project).

Applications must be made by a Principal Investigator employed at a UK registered Higher Education Institution.

Applicants and all team members must be 18+.

Applicants are encouraged to apply as a collaborative team from more than one Educational Institute, but there must be a lead institution that will contract with StoryFutures Academy who receive and administer the grant, including arrangement of any collaborative agreements or subcontract as necessary (Note: while working across institutions is encouraged, in the present circumstances given Covid-19, this is not a condition).

Applicants are expected to grant StoryFutures Academy the use of anonymised data related to the project in academic and industry-facing research publications.

Applicants are expected to share with StoryFutures Academy the learning from the project in the form of a learning log, in order for StoryFutures Academy to create a data base of teaching modules.

Priority will be given to projects that support immersive storytelling and production within disciplines such as computer science, engineering, digital and media, design, animation etc and to those with an interdisciplinary approach.

Grant awards to successful projects are subject to the acceptance of the contractual terms and conditions of the Train the Trainer scheme, outlined by StoryFutures Academy.

Key Dates

Call Closes – midnight Thursday, 17th December 2020
Winners announced – Monday 18th January 2021
Launch event – Train the Trainer Cohort 1 Showcase and Cohort 2 launch, 29 January 2021
Workshop 1 for cohort (and mentors) – 25th and 26th February 2021
Workshop 2 for cohort (and mentors) – 22nd and 23rd April 2021
Bi-monthly mentor meetings – February – July 2021
Workshop 3 for cohort (and mentors), Framing the Learning – 4th June 2021
Delivery of all project outputs – July 16th 2021
Final Showcase – July 30th 2021 (tbc)


A key output is the development and delivery of a range of teaching materials that can be used on future courses that integrate institution and beyond.

Note that in present circumstances, institutes need to be able to guarantee that their project is deliverable within government’s safe social distancing guidelines and, therefore, we are unable to fund live action projects on this call.


  • A summary of your plans for the next steps of the project, including detail of how, when and on which courses the learnings will be integrated
  • Participation of students in project or sample test group (min. 12)
  • A Learning Log summarising the outcomes of the project, detailing key lessons learned. This should include a summary of the results of any creative, technical or audience/trainer testing that has been carried out. A template will be provided.
  • Sample course materials that show how your training or researching initiative can be taught more widely
  • Next steps on how you plan to integrate teaching materials into an existing course, or to create a new course in the lead applicants home institute (and any others).
  • For prototype focused projects: A build or treatment of the immersive prototype or final piece, in a format which can that can be previewed in StoryFutures Academy Immersive Labs (wherever possible)
  • For workshop focused projects: A record of the training workshop(s) in the form of video, audio or photographic record that can be shared in the StoryFutures Academy working labs (wherever possible)

Eligible costs

The following costs are eligible:

  • Time for (key) named trainers/researchers on the project, such as teaching relief or remission from administrative duties;
  • Creative and development costs (e.g. writers, technical development);
  • Equipment and studio hire;
  • Equipment purchase (up to a maximum of 20% of total costs applied for);
  • Residency fees to support producers working in relevant collaborative environments;
  • Expertise and consultancy of freelance professionals or company partners;
  • All projects should make an allowance for the following costs:

a/ Travel costs, including for attendance at 3 x workshops at StoryFutures Academy

b/ Allow up to £200 to purchase immersive experiences so that teams can develop a range of knowledge about AR/VR/MR.


We will provide the following support to each successful project:

Access to a team of industry mentors who have a range of skills in immersive production and in project design/management and who will:

  • Deliver 4 days of workshops across the project cycle, including a kick off workshop aimed at helping the cohort of winning projects to access best in class examples of VR/MR work, to meet each other and share project ambition as well as benefit from inspiring ‘how to’ sessions from industry professionals (Note: in present circumstances, some of these will be delivered virtually);
  • Offer more specific help in the design, development and delivery of the projects, including one-on-one project ‘clinics’ at workshops e.g. tech clinic, budget clinic, design clinic etc.;
  • Specialist input will also be offered at regular stages throughout the project cycle with monthly scheduled virtual hangouts and phone calls;
  • Offer a mid-project critical review;
  • Provide access to a broader network of industry professionals for further advice and collaboration;
  • Co-design or assist in the development of future learning materials;
  • Showcase the project (July 30th 2021).

Please email for any enquiries.

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Application Judging Criteria

  • Theme fit and innovation: The extent to which the application clearly aligns with addressing immersive storytelling challenges and one or more of the three key themes (priority areas) identified in the call in an innovative and rigorous manner
  • Appropriate team skills: Applicants must demonstrate they have a team able to develop and deliver immersive experiences and workshops (as appropriate), including access to the necessary skills and tools to deliver the planned project
  • Value for money and realistic timeframe: whether the budget proposed is reasonable with respect to being able to deliver the proposed project and required deliverables, and within the proposed timeframe (delivery by July 16th 2021)
  • Impact and deliverables: Demonstrate that the project can fulfil all required deliverables, especially that it will develop course materials and plans that can be integrated into at least one HEI, clearly identifying the course(s), type and size of student body that will benefit from the project. Plans might include, for example, the launch of new degree/course pathways; augmenting existing programmes; new HEI collaborations; new HEI and non-standard training collaborations. Institutional support for the application at department, school or faculty level is therefore necessary (please upload email/letter of support)
  • Industry partnership: Industry partnership is encouraged but not essential. Where industry partners are involved, applications will be assessed according to the strength of that partnership and the extent to which the project aligns with the identified industry need
  • Commitment to diversity – StoryFutures Academy is committed to supporting storytellers from a range of diverse backgrounds to work with immersive technology. This includes a commitment to reach a minimum of 50% female and 20% BAME participants across our programmes. Applications will be asked to set out the gender and ethnic make-up of their teams with reference to these targets. We will take a portfolio approach to applications, ensuring that across supported projects this target is met.
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