Dragons take over Drummohr thanks to augmented reality

A series of dragon light installations and sculptures will be on display at the Drummohr estate. Picture: Contributed
A series of dragon light installations and sculptures will be on display at the Drummohr estate. Picture: Contributed
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Visitors to a country estate in East Lothian will soon be on the look-out for mythical beasts more terrifying than the average woodland creature.

Thanks to the wonders of augmented reality (AR), the grounds of Drummohr House near Musselburgh will be filled with dragons on evenings from 10-29 October.

A Leith-based team of developers has created its latest app which allows visitors to interact with light installations and sculptures as part of a high-tech theatrical adventure.

Vision Mechanics, with the support of East Lothian Council and local school pupils, has combined the worlds of gaming and storytelling to create the immersive experience.

Organisers hope the event will appeal to fans of the lucrative fantasy genre popularised by smash-hit shows such as Game of Thrones, as well as offering an example of how tech and heritage can be combined to create new attractions at well-known properties.

AR - technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world - is increasingly being viewed as the future of heritage attractions.

The AR technique – used by Google for its Google Glass technology, and BMW, which this year created AR glasses for Mini – utilises the camera on an Apple or Android phone and tablet to make virtual objects appear to be in front of the viewer on the screen.

While visitors in East Lothian are chasing dragons, the tech could be used to recreate medieval castles or ancient settlements.

Vision Mechanics first used the technology to create a theatrical performance in 2015 when it launched DragonQuest, a similar concept to Dragons of Drummohr, which was staged at Monikie Country Park in Angus.

Visitors to Drummohr will be told that “rare and protected dragons have descended on the grounds of Drummohr House - and the Dragon Protection League need help in catching them”.

A “Dragon Bus” will take audiences from the Prestongrange Museum Visitors Centre to the site - as any more vehicles would disturb the dragons and make them harder to catch.

Using the Dragon Matrix augmented reality app, audiences will be tasked with assisting the Dragon Protection League in finding all of the lurking mythical beasts inside the house and around the grounds – aided and abetted by trolls, fairies and red herrings.

Huge light installations and sculptures will transform the forest into another world, with clues to follow and puzzles to solve in the elusive structures hidden between the trees. Giant dragons, both real and augmented, loom out of the shadows. There are fairy settlements to stumble across, and goblins hiding in the cobwebbed corners of the old Drummohr mansion.

Vision Mechanics have a history of creating other worldly performances, such as the eight metre giant Pictish puppet Big Man Walking, and 2014’s Scottish woodland-set Embrace, fusing aerial artistry, dance, shadow, sound and light.

Last year’s event was attended by over 5,000 people and was a finalist in the Scottish Thistle Awards.

Councillor John McMillan, tourism spokesman at East Lothian Council, said the event would appeal to people of all ages.

He added: “There’s a huge interest in fantasy, adventure and dragons through a huge variety of media including movies and gaming so I expect this event, which promises to turn this fantastic world of dragons and adventure into reality, will be hugely well attended.

“I’m particularly pleased that East Lothian’s primary pupils will be getting involved in such a creative way.”