Mansfield students bring village to life

Interactive and creative digital media students pictured with Colin Hall (third right) and brother David (right).
Interactive and creative digital media students pictured with Colin Hall (third right) and brother David (right).

Interactive media students in Mansfield have been using their digital design skills to bring an ancient village’s unique history, and vibrant present day, to life.

Virtual reality, animation and computer-generated imagery by learners on higher national diploma and degree courses at Vision West Nottinghamshire College are set to feature in a £1 million heritage and visitor centre planned for the Derbyshire village of Stoney Middleton.

Brothers and scheme developers Colin (left, standing) and David Hall (left, seated) view the virtual reality film, joined by students Luke Buxton and Natasha Finney.

Brothers and scheme developers Colin (left, standing) and David Hall (left, seated) view the virtual reality film, joined by students Luke Buxton and Natasha Finney.

It comes after scheme developers Colin and David Hall – whose family have lived in the Peak District village for several generations – approached the college to give young talent the opportunity to get involved as part of a work-related project.

Students have created a 3D map and film highlighting village landmarks including its Roman bath house and Toll House, with people able to interact with their 3D incarnations and see them up close from a variety of angles.

The film celebrates the village’s prehistoric origins, the first settlement by Ancient Britons in about 4,000BC and occupation by the Romans, to becoming an important industrial centre of limestone quarrying, mineral processing and boot-making, up to the present day as a popular home to heritage trails, listed buildings and an extensive underground caving system.

Luke Buxton, aged 23, from Mansfield, was project manager on the virtual reality film.

The creative digital media degree student said: “I took the lead on the video’s composition, placing the visual elements and recording the audio, so I’ve developed my cinematography skills, along with my composition and colour-grading skills, which is what I want to specialise in when I leave college.

“I’m not aware of any other facility in the country that will have this type of 3D immersive room, with wraparound screens that take up almost the entire space, so it could be truly unique.”

The Hall brothers visited the college’s Derby Road campus to inspect the students’ work and check progress on the project.

Colin said: “Stoney Middleton has an ancient and colourful history, with a plethora of interesting folklore stories of romance and tragedy, all based on truth, and it is now an important climbing and caving destination. From a tourism point of view, it’s got almost everything – but nowhere that tells its story.

“The idea of working with the college was to come up with something new and inspiring that tells this story in a dramatic and moving way.

“The students’ work will be the first experience that visitors to the centre are going to feel.

“Visitors are going to instantly get connected with how the earth was formed, its geology, and how Stoney Middleton came to be.

“Hopefully, they will then be inspired to look into how things unfolded, including all the wonderful stories connected with this unique place and its modern-day identity.

“We’re immensely impressed with the progress so far – it’s exceeded our expectations. The professionalism of the students, from start to finish, and the way they have taken our brief and implemented it, has been brilliant. We had a vision for how it might be, and they’ve surpassed that.

“Seeing what they’ve produced was a moving experience. We can’t wait for it to take pride of place inside the centre and let other people experience it too.”

It is hoped work on the purpose-built visitor attraction will start this summer, with the centre expected to open in autumn 2019.