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Behind the Scenes – How Digital Guides Come to Life at Cultural Places

Cultural Places digital guides to explore the world
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Producing our audio and media guides is a lot of work! Find out about the process behind the scenes and learn how the outdoor tour for St. Stephen’s Cathedral came into being.

You browse our website or app, search for your favorite city, and select an audio guide you’re interested in. You see a lot of pictures, audio files, texts, designs, etc. along your way. But have you ever wondered how these tours and digital guides are produced? Find out how we do it!

Anna Cossa - Project Manager at Cultural Places
Project Manager Anna Cossa at work

The content department at Cultural Places (CP) is a relatively small one: Anna Cossa is the project manager for most of our content. She is accompanied by Hanna Bergmayr, who assists her and functions as the link to the marketing department. As you probably guessed, we are all nuts about traveling! That means it’s easy for us to come up with new ideas – our list is long and there’s never enough time to realize everything.

Apart from the guides we conceptualize from beginning to end, we also work on some with partners (such as museums, cities, exhibition halls, and other organizations). Since we started to organize content production solely at our headquarters in Vienna, we have managed to increase the quality as well as giving our guides a more consistent style.

Adapting the Audio Guides of St. Stephen’s

To give you an insight on the steps necessary to produce a guide from A to Z, we let you sneak a peek behind the production of our tours in and around St. Stephen’s Cathedral!

The cathedral already had an audio guide on old devices for the interieur of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, available in 23 languages. We adapted this old, existing audio guide to make it available for app and website use. The audio guide only consisted of, well, audio files, so we needed accompanying texts and pictures to provide a comprehensive experience for our users. That meant reworking the audio files in all languages, writing titles and short descriptions as well as looking for images – in this case, we worked with the photographers of WestLightArt, who had previously done photo shoots for St. Stephen’s. In 2018 we were happy to start showcasing their content in a modern, digital way, in cooperation with the most important church in Austria!

The Outdoor Tour – How It All Began

Nobody knows anymore whose idea it was initially – but we thought of also covering the outside of the cathedral with a special tour. The history of the cathedral building and all the small (and bigger) strange and interesting stories incorporated in the façade are really worth knowing. We reached out to St. Stephen’s, told them about our ideas, and asked them for their cooperation and support – which we got!

Cultural Places digital guides to explore the world

The texts …

We knew that this guide would dig very deep into history – not only of the cathedral but also of Vienna. Therefore, we were looking for a writer based in Vienna who could research and provide high quality texts. We were lucky to get the very experienced MMag. Dr. Huberta Weigl from Schreibwerkstatt to work with us! She was provided with a concept, done by Anna Cossa, and did a great job in researching all the stories around the cathedral that many people from Vienna don’t even know about. They worked closely together – discussing the style of writing, how the separate spots would be ordered, what to include and what to leave behind, and much more. This was important to both fit the guide into the style of Cultural Places as well as to keep our partner, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, satisfied. When the texts were ready, they were sent to the Domarchivar Reinhard H. Gruber, who is an expert on the church. We were very happy that after some small changes, he approved all of our texts!

Cultural Places digital guides - the texts

… the pictures …

The next step was to find great pictures which would highlight the small details of the façade which are crucial to support the stories. WestLightArt was again the ideal partner because they had already worked with us and the cathedral. We sent a list of photos we needed, and they headed right to St Stephen’s. What can we say, we were not disappointed!

… the audio files …

An audio guide would be nothing without audio, right? For this tour we wanted mature voices. For the German version it was very important to have a voice talent with a Viennese touch, so clearly an Austrian native was needed. We browsed our list of content providers and realized that a man we had already worked with would be perfect for this project: Wolf Frank. For the English voice we selected Ellen from the portfolio of Sounds & Words, our partner for outsourcing content production. Her warm and soothing voice was perfect for this topic.

… and much more.

Cultural Places Stephansdom digital guide

And then we were done! No? Well actually, there were more details and steps in the whole project we don’t want to bore you with. Things like editing, proofreading, selecting pictures, resizing, implementation on the technical side, communication, testing, and much more.

We would love to give you an insight into how our sales, technical, and marketing department are working, but this would go beyond the scope here.

We also designed a plaque to be placed at the Giant’s Gate of the cathedral, had Austria’s largest newspaper write about our project, and when COVID-19 began to affect our lives, we could offer a guide to get to know the cathedral even when it had to close its doors.

We also cooperated with Volkshilfe Wien, an Austrian non-profit welfare organization. With their support, 50% of the net proceeds of specific guides are donated to people in need.

If you want to see more, check out our tours about the Liebenau Camp in Graz, which was created in cooperation with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Kriegsfolgenforschung and the Karl-Franzens-University Graz; our guides for Vienna which are a CP production, our digital exhibitions Laughing is Contagious and Vienna United which are curated by CP, and many more. And there’s more to come: We are currently working on a guide for the Sacher Hotel Vienna – stay tuned!

PS: Our quality stands and falls on collaborations with great freelancers, content agencies, etc. If you like our approach and want to be part of it, get in touch! Email us at content@oroundo.com and tell us more about you.

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