Building business with Backstage Academy

Ashley Ball has launched his own enterprise off the back of an end-of-year project at Backstage Academy

Ashley was part of an eight-strong team of students at the Academy which created a unique dining experience using video technology to create visual, sound and atmospheric effects for diners while they ate.

“Our only brief from Backstage Academy was that the project had to be ‘cool’.  We’re all creatives and had lots of ideas but we were determined the Digital Diner would be appealing and commercially viable,” explained Ashley.

Under tight time constrains they teamed up with Production Park’s onsite tour caterers, Rockpool, who helped design a three course internationally themed meal.

Ashley explained how Backstage Academy’s facilities enabled the dream to become reality. “Backstage Academy is one of the few places that has Notch. It uniquely allows you to add video content in real time, so we were able to manipulate images throughout the evening.  For example, we projected fish on to the tables, but we were able to move them reactively, so they appeared real.  

We’re all creatives and had lots of ideas but we were determined the Digital Diner would be appealing and commercially viable – Ashley Ball, graduate, Backstage Academy 

“From the control room, where we were manipulating the video, we could see how our diners’ moods changed,” he continued. “For example, brighter more dynamic scenes prompted more animated conversation, while diners were quieter when we projected darker, slower images.  They started with Japanese ramen served against a backdrop of a cherry garden, followed by Mexican tacos in an Aztec style temple and finally Italian gelato and pannacotta served on a terrace overlooking a vineyard.”

Joining Ashley in the Digital Diner team was Ed Joynson, project manager, Sam Vaughan, creative director, Charlie Cooper, marketing sponsorship and relations, William Hopkins and Kyle Reseigh as content leads and Andy Delmaine and Lucie Ozanne as audio leads.

Waiting for his final results from Backstage Academy – which is accredited by the University of Bolton – Ashley and second year student Kalean Dalton have set up Lucid Technologies.

Glen Rowe, MD of Backstage Academy, said: “Backstage Academy is all about factory-floor learning. I love the way this project tested the students of various real-life scenarios and took them out of the learning bubble.”

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