Cannes Lions

#Romanovs100 AR Photo Album

RT CREATIVE LAB, Moscow / RT / 2020

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


Showcasing private photographs of Nicholas II and his family in a printed photo album would deliver only a conventional message. If we want to appeal to wider audiences, we need to make them active co-creators of the unfolding story. An AR app installed on individual mobile device would help resolve this task. It will break limitations implied by print and enrich storytelling by bringing in elements usually not associated with books: videos, “then/now” contrast panels, voice-overs and other movie-like effects.

With this AR publication, crafted by an in-house creative team at the international TV news channel, we aimed to go beyond traditional TV formats to create a more direct experiential engagement with media’s branded content. The #Romanovs100 AR book is documentary journalistic research communicated through an interactive mobile experience. The book became a showcase of the brand's innovative approach and creativity.


The AR photo album 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 contextualising the images began several months before the project was launched and continued throughout the 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 digitise and analyse 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.


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.


#Romanovs100 has been selected to premiere at one of the world’s biggest educational festivals - SXSW EDU 2019 in Austin, Texas. Throughout 2019 we presented the book at multiple festivals & forums such as Exponatec, Promax, EdCrunch. The response from media professionals, educators, students was overwhelming as we handed over hundreds of copies to public libraries, cultural institutions, to universities of Texas, Phoenix, New York, Cornell. In November, #Romanovs100 book was named the best digital project which preserves cultural heritage by prestigious "The Best in Heritage" forum curated by ICOM.

In general, #Romanovs100 generated over 30 million impressions and video views on social, gathered around 55,000 fans & followers combined. Social media posts generated over 1 million engagements. The project received global media coverage, featuring in The Drum, The History Extra magazine, BBC News Hour, Tatler, Sky News, Daily Mail, and more.

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