#Romanovs100: AR Photo Album

RT, Moscow / RT / 2019


1 Shortlisted Eurobest
Presentation Image
Supporting Images
Supporting Images






The Romanovs were photography pioneers — in the early 20th century they owned the world's first portable cameras capturing almost every meaningful event in their lives.

On July 17, 1918, Nicholas Romanov, last Tsar of the Russian Empire, his wife and five children were executed by the Bolsheviks. To pay tribute to the family, we merged a large set of visual data with transmedia storytelling to piece out the big picture of a "lost Russia". Thousands of the Romanov’s images were converted into platform-specific social media narratives on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram with accounts on each network showcasing unique format and content.


- create an immersive educational project that can resonate with “new generations” fully-adapted to social media

- transforming content to an interactive AR book which makes learning experiences an emotional journey into history

- introduce new approaches which can be effectively used in history education courses


#Romanovs100 is an image-first digital storytelling project built on the analysis of thousands of photos shot by Russia’s last Royal family. 4,000 actual analogue images once stored in the private albums were converted into platform-specific social media narratives on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram with accounts on each network showcasing unique format and content.

This vast family chronicle is a detailed first-hand witness account of the early 20th century; for decades this part of Russian history was eradicated from school-books and kept in the dark during Soviet rule. Working on this large set of visual data and adapting our historical research to social media platforms allowed us to make history easily accessible to younger audiences.

#Romanovs100 culminated in AR photo album which enhances this experience of history learning. It combines the visual language of photography with AR tech to create an interactive history book with the focus on the humane story.


The AR photo album we created is a culmination of the many-staged storytelling project. It is driven by and based on analysis of thousands of photos taken by Russia’s last royal family during the early 20th century.

To bring history to life, we partnered with the Russian State Archive to retrieve over 4,000 photographs once stored in the private family albums. Identifying and contextualizing the images began several months before the project was launched and continued throughout live phase. Through collaboration with researchers, historians and creators we managed to link visual data to historical facts and come up with narratives and special elements suitable both for print and AR.

Our work to digitize and analyze this trove of family photographs portrayed the Romanovs from a new, deeply human perspective, resulting in an innovative image-first educational narrative enhanced by extended reality.


Our challenge was to design an interactive multimedia book mixing history with new digital realities but to also create something personal and concurrent, connecting two totally different eras. In our design choices we wanted to create a feeling of intimacy: all images are unedited photos in original exposure with the same tints and colors as when developed by the Romanovs and pasted into albums with their own hands. This is why we chose the ‘bound photo-album’ format and complemented it with an AR app to fill the digital gap.

The purpose of AR is to extend the storytelling through limitations implied by print, and to allow readers become active co-creators of the unfolding story. The app provides an immersive journey into history triggering three interaction types:

- informative (videos, galleries, maps): uses extended reality to tell additional stories through swipeable galleries, AR infographic, short video documentaries rolling inside photos

- visual (panoramas, now/then AR images): AR app allows zoom-in on high-resolution images to experience them from different angles

- emotional (love letters, colorizations, VR animation art): 3D animations which come to life on the book pages offering a fresh emotional connection to the Romanov family. It creates a learning experience through artistic and playful adventure.

The Romanov photo album is a post-digital product due to its trans-media print/AR elements. Extended reality here is a legitimate tool without which the storytelling would lack breadth and depth. Through mixing AR with actual photos, the book breaks traditional print format boundaries to create a new kind of history text that is informative, engaging and interactive, designed to educate and inspire future self-learners.


Our project aims to show that learning history can be compelling and interactive. It targets younger audiences with innovative formats and digital approaches in educational storytelling.

#Romanovs100 has been selected to showcase at one of the world’s biggest educational festivals - SXSW EDU 2019 in Austin, Texas where we exclusively presented the AR book. The response from educators and students was overwhelming as we handed over dozens of copies to public libraries, to universities of Texas, Phoenix, New York, Cornell and many other educational institutions who showed high interest.

In general, #Romanovs100 had a remarkable impact across social media. The project generated over 25 million impressions & gathered around 55,000 fans & followers combined. Social media posts generated over 1 million engagements.

The project received global media coverage, featuring in The History Extra magazine, BBC News Hour, Tatler, Sky News, Daily Mail, and more.

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