Archive for the ‘interactive media’ Category

Health Freaks

My next multiplatform project is coming over the horizon. Here’s how it was reported in Broadcast the other day. It is my second experiment in transforming pre-recorded TV shows into live viewing events to make the experience more engaging for viewers whilst encouraging them to watch the live broadcast stream (and therefore the ads which keep the wolf from my door).

Dr Pixie Mckenna

C4 orders health series and latest Kirstie show

6 August, 2013 | By 

Channel 4’s features division has continued its string of recent commissions by ordering a health series from Outline Productions and a Kirstie Allsopp show from Raise The Roof Productions.

The 6 x 30-minute Health Freaks will put traditional home remedies to the test to discover whether they have any medicinal value. In each episode a series of people who swear by a particular treatment or cure will present their favoured remedy to a panel of three GPs: Dr Pixie McKenna, Dr Ayan Panja and Dr Ellie Cannon. The trio will then debate the remedy and, if they decide it needs further investigation, will send it to a lab to be tested further.

The series, edited by Chris Walley and executive produced by Outline’s Helen Veale and Ross McCarthy, will test treatments such a breast milk being use to cure infections and an oat bath being a good way to tackle psoriasis.

Veale said: “This show is a way of allowing ordinary people to have their remedies scientifically analysed – something they may have been unable to do previously due to the time and cost constraints involved.  We’ve already had some really interesting results.”

The series, which was ordered by commissioning editor for features Nick Hornby and will air in the autumn, also has an innovative multiplatform element.

Viewers will be asked if they have first-hand experience of the remedy in question [and whether they reckon it will succeed in its medical trial] and a live insert into the pre-recorded programme will feed the results of viewers’ engagement during the show back into the programme.

Channel 4 multiplatform commissioning editor Adam Gee said: “The interactivity of Health Freaks is effectively transforming a pre-recorded show into a live television event. This gives viewers more of a stake in the outcome, while encouraging them to watch the broadcast rather than time-shifting. It’s an early experiment in a largely unexplored area which benefits viewers, advertisers and the broadcaster alike.”

hughs fish fightThe first such experiment was in the second series of Fish Fight earlier this year. We used Twitter to put pressure on the supermarkets by whacking them with 16,000 tweets over a 3-minute ad break as see here:

Article extract courtesy of Broadcast

Play a long game

This project took two years to travel from Quotables, the website which inspired it, thought up in a cafe opposite Great Ormond Street back in 2010 with Andy Bell and some Mintfolk, to this primetime panel show playing out this summer.

Here’s an extract from Broadcast today…

 

Richard Ayoade actor director comedian Was It Something I Said

Same hairdresser as Elliott Gould and me

C4 panel show to feature Twitter playalong game

20 June, 2013 | By 

David Mitchell actor comedian Was It Something I Said

Channel 4 is hoping that the playalong game for forthcoming panel show Was It Something I Said? (WISIS?) will have as big an impact in the space as The Million Pound Drop Live.

The David Mitchell-hosted series, produced by Maverick TV and Mint Digital, will offer a playalong element hosted entirely on Twitter. Viewers will be directed to follow a dedicated account, @somethingIsaid, which will post questions, funny pictures and supporting content to coincide with the appropriate point in the show.

Players will be able to track their progress via a mobile-optimised website that will be closely integrated with the Twitter platform. C4 estimates that 80% of TV-related Twitter usage occurs via mobile.

Around 3,000 users will be sent personalised messages during each episode, with all the content produced designed to be shareable.

Separate Twitter accounts will also be launched to allow +1 viewers and those who watch the extended 45-minute repeat to also play along.

C4’s multiplatform commissioners Jody Smith and Adam Gee ordered the digital elements. The former said the broadcaster decided to host the playalong element on Twitter in response to viewer behaviour. “The interactivity around The Million Pound Drop has been hugely influential to other gameshows, and I’m expecting the interactivity planned for Was It Something I Said? to give the panel show genre just as big a kick up the arse,” said Smith.

The series is one of the first projects to have come from the broadcaster’s initiative to commission shows from non-traditional sources, and was inspired by the Quotabl.es website Mint Digital developed for C4 in 2010.

Micky Flanagan comedian Was It Something I Said

{Extract courtesy of Broadcast magazine}

Clean Sweep – Broadcast Digital Awards 2012

C4 and BBC4 triumph at Broadcast Digital Awards

21 June, 2012 | By 

Channel 4 made a clean sweep of the multiplatform categories at the Broadcast Digital Awards on Wednesday [20th June 2012], with four wins.

Indie-made projects for C4 won Best Game (The Bank Job), Best App (Facejacker), Best Website (Sexperience), Best Multiplatform Project (Live From The Clinic).

C4 also landed a fifth award, for Best News or Current Affairs, for the Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields website.

{extract published courtesy of Broadcast}

Fantastic Plastic for Live from the Clinic handed over by Mr Gilbert, headmaster of The In-betweeners (Greg Davies)

 

Empties are like chewing gum on pavements

Here’s a telly review from The Observer last weekend which pretty much represents the reception of The Great British Property Scandal. I particularly liked the last line.

The Observer, Sunday 11 December 2011

There’s too little time and space to get into the intricate successfulnesses of (Restoration Man) George Clarke’s two programmes on The Great British Property Scandal but, trust me, he is now doing for empty homes what Jamie has been trying to do for food. National Low-Cost Loan Fund might not sound the foxiest soundbite in the den, but it’s his answer, and it would work, by getting government and councils to let absent landlords (not all ill-intentioned) borrow £1,300 bloody quid and do up their empty homes to a lettable standard.

The angrier he got, the angrier I, and I hope you, got. The government/council lunacy of having families cooped in damp, rat-infested, poke-holes possessed of staggeringly dubious electrical safety, while round the corner lies a perfectly good “empty” which the owners, what with no one lending anything, can’t afford to twitch up to a lettable standard, hurts in that very bad way that happens when your mind hears stupidity.

Clarke managed, eventually, to show how even a little money can turn it around: the family needing not to live in squalor did up the house themselves, more than willingly and actually rather tastefully; the nice owners/landlords got some rent rather than a crippling mortgage for emptiness and a whole family was newly happy. Simples? I have already joined the website which allows you to help in your own area, or at least find out who in charge locally is helping/ unhelping. Empties are like chewing gum on pavements. We never noticed them: now we do.

{published courtesy of The Observer}

And here’s how the project was mentioned last week in the Scottish Parliament:

Motion S4M-01551: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/12/2011

That the Parliament welcomes the Channel 4 series,
The Great British Property Scandal, which, it believes, highlights the problem of long-term empty homes; understands that there are 25,000 long-term empty homes in Scotland; welcomes the Scottish Government’s funding for the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, which is hosted by Shelter Scotland, and further welcomes the Scottish Government’s ongoing consultation on extending council tax charges for such homes, with the intention that additional revenue raised is re-invested in affordable homes, including the re-use of empty homes.

Supported by: Adam Ingram, Sandra White, Fiona McLeod, Annabelle Ewing, Gil Paterson, Chic Brodie, James Dornan, Bill Kidd, Dennis Robertson, Margaret McDougall, John Mason, Marco Biagi, Margaret Burgess, Richard Lyle, John Finnie, Mike MacKenzie, Paul Wheelhouse, Mark McDonald, Colin Keir, Kevin Stewart, Drew Smith, David Torrance, Gordon MacDonald

4 highlights of work this year

As the debt burden of time edges towards the apocalyptic default of destiny, it’s comforting to sit here by the fire with my Sobranie and peat single malt and reflect on the year that was for me at work. It was a fine year, nay a vintage one, and the 4 things that gave me most satisfaction were:

January: The Big Fish Fight with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – the year started by taking online campaigning around TV up a gear

May: Live from the Clinic including My HealthChecker – using Embarrassing Bodies as a platform to experiment with Skype on live TV and data gathering, saving the NHS over 400 grand in the process

July: The Sexperience 1000 – given how cliched data visualisation has already become, an attempt to liven it up

December: The Great British Property Scandal with George Clarke – finished the year as I began with some full-on campaigning

So I’ll sit on here, puff away, muse idly on the last twelve months, and watch the counter on The Great British Property Scandal tick over towards that 100,000…

 

Channel 4 Multiplatform

There was a useful article in this week’s Broadcast about Channel 4’s Multiplatform commissioning and its direction of travel, based on an interview with the Multiplatform Lead, Louise Brown. Here are a few extracts [with a few annotations from me]:

The Great British Property Scandal - starts Mon 5th Dec on C4 at 9:00pm

C4’s multiplatform commissioning lead has been charged with finding innovative ways to get viewers involved in its campaigns [it's not limited to campaigns] through apps and online projects.
Multiplatform and convergence have been two key messages coming out of Channel 4 over the past 18 months, and Louise Brown is heading the team charged with innovation [including me whose focus is features and factual entertainment].
As multiplatform commissioning lead, Brown works with five commissioning editors tasked with working on two-screen projects that create meaningful dialogue.
George Clarke’s The Great British Property Scandal is the latest campaign to be getting the full 360-degree treatment, with a season of programmes supported by a range of multiplatform activity including an iPhone app and an online tool for members of the public to identify where there are empty homes, via mapping technology. The key activity is an online petition.
“It’s calling for a change in the law around long-term empty homes being made available for ordinary people to use, as well as setting up a low-interest loan fund,” Brown explains.
The information will be used by democracy project My Society [MySociety made the tools and app, they don't use the information, the tools pass it on securely] and passed on to the local authorities. Taking lessons from last January’s Hugh’s Fish Fight, which harnessed the mass-TV audience to make a tangible change to policy, Brown is hoping to get more than 10,000 signatures on the petition.
“In multiplatform overall, we are constantly learning; the team’s remit is really to innovate,” she says.
Adam Gee, multiplatform features and fact ent commissioner, has worked on campaigns for both Hugh’s Fish Fight and The Great British Property Scandal. Brown believes his experience can lead to more powerful campaigns in future.

“C4 prides itself on having really impactful programmes. When you have been stirred by a programme, you need to do something with that. That is what is so exciting about having multiplatform at the heart of things now,” she says.
One of the key lessons from the campaigns is that people need to have a variety of access points to do something that is achievable, she says.
Campaigns are not the only area in which C4 is looking to invest. All of its programmes have a web presence, but the level of interactivity will vary, says Brown. “In terms of resources, I would rather have the focus on a few standout, compelling experiences around really appropriate subject matter than try to make everything a little bit multiplatform,” she says.
Brown points to the range demonstrated by The Million Pound Drop Live playalong game, Comedy Blaps, Hippo: Wild Feast Live and forthcoming gameshow Bank Job.
In the ambitious Hippo: Wild Feast Live, a dead hippo was placed on a river and C4 attempted to let the audience watch almost every stage of the animal’s body being consumed as its energy was passed down the food chain. “It came together quite quickly,” she reflects. “Natural history is another area where I really hope we are going to see some more events or experiences. If we get the right subject matter and the right approach, it makes it a uniquely C4 experience. Not everything worked, but if everything is going right, we are not pushing hard enough.”
Despite some technical glitches, the project attracted an audience that was willing to spend time on the website – one of the factors Brown considers when looking at a project’s success.
The starting point when assessing how well a project has done is the number of visits to the site, followed by the number of minutes people spend on the site, and then the number of return visits. On the Hippo project, viewers spent an average of 19 minutes watching a live stream, which culminated in 6,500 hours of live-action views.
Those are the overall markers of success. But each genre should be approached differently as each has its own potential for multiplatform. In scripted content such as drama and comedy, the key thing is talent, says Brown.

Ideas machine

C4 has just ordered 14 developments from 200 pitches submitted after its first ever online briefing. The plan now is to increase the frequency of briefings and the number of commissions. “The total focus of my team is finding new talented companies. Sometimes they are content companies and sometimes they are technology companies,” she explains.
“At next year’s briefings, I would like to see more TV companies interested in multiplatform commissioning. We have some of the best digital companies, who come along with really brilliant thinkers, and I would like some of those TV thinkers to come along and meet with them.”
C4’s strategy of two-screen commissioning revolves around the TV, but over the coming year, we can expect to see a more fluid use of ideas. “I would be gobsmacked if an online idea doesn’t migrate onto TV next year. There are ideas we are considering already. There is already a case where it is has gone into a strand for a show. It is absolutely what we think and know will happen,” she says.
Ultimately, C4’s aim of pushing the boundaries in convergence and two-screen has led to a change in the way it commissions and the type of content it is working with, and a deeper understanding of audience behaviour. The next year will only see it building on that foundation.

How to pitch
Do
•    Know why your idea is perfect for Channel 4
•    Come to our briefings
•    Keep up with our current Multiplatform commissions – what you can learn, where you might overlap
Don’t
•    Overthink it – commissioners want to input/help
•    Assume the involvement of existing C4 talent
•    Pitch comedy or drama without a writer

Cash and Burn

Channel 4 multiplatform: 
A broad development slate
Channel 4 multiplatform commissioners have ordered 14 developments since the online summer briefing.
There’s a non-linear narrative drama and factual-based projects looking at topics such as international finance and food waste, while an entertainment format looks at the depth of friendships online.
Adam Gee has ordered a development looking at international finance. The project, from Cardiff ’s Cube Interactive and Twofour, aims to offer an experience of how international finance works and promises the unusual spectacle of a City trader, a bookie, a housewife and a monkey pitted against each other.
The idea is seen as having potential to translate to TV and could potentially be stripped over a number of days. Ten Alps’ Wasted, another Adam Gee order, focuses on a new chef who promotes how to avoid wasting food. The format will show people how to use their food by the end of the week rather than throw it away.

Intimate Exchanges uses Alan Ayckbourn’s 1982 play to explore the concept of non-linear drama. Multiplatform drama commissioner Hilary Perkins ordered the project from Tern in Glasgow.
A number of potential interactive treatments are being developed based on the themes of the original play. The idea is based on examining how decisions can be made both in a local environment, such as the living room, and how that might compare with regional and national decisions.
An in-depth knowledge of digital culture is the basis for The Network, which is being worked on by Nerd TV. The development, an entertainment format commissioned by Jody Smith, looks at how well people’s online friends really know them, and is another development earmarked as a possible TV transfer.

Reproduced courtesy of Broadcast. The full article can be read here (subscription only).

Interactive media cuts crime

Two years is a long time in interactive media – time enough for this commission of mine, Landshare, from Keo and Mint Digital to show its true value as highlighted in the Telegraph:

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s allotment halves anti-social behaviour

Hugh Fearnley-Whittinghstall, the River Cottage chef, has halved anti-social behaviour on a housing estate with an allotment scheme.

7:00AM BST 11 Aug 2011

The television chef launched the Landshare initiative, encouraging communities to plant food on unused plots.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

The scheme’s first project in Leigh, Wigan, has cut anti-social behaviour by 51 per cent, local police said.

“This has been a wonderful project that gives children something positive, healthy and educational to do,” said PCSO Wendy Walters. “The allotment has undoubtedly contributed to a staggering 51 per cent reduction in antisocial behaviour on the estate in the last year.”

“The estate has seen a great improvement in antisocial behaviour since the allotment started,” said one resident. “The site gives children somewhere to go and something to do.”

The Landshare scheme, backed by Channel 4, matches people in need of land and those wanting to help with growing with people offering unused plots. It also offers advice to novice gardeners. It has been used by more than 55,000 people since its launch by Fearnley-Whittingstall in 2009.

{Reproduced courtesy of The Telegraph}

Visualisation re-energised

The Sexperience 1000‘ has just gone live on the Sexperience website – here’s a brief explanation courtesy of Broadcast today…

C4 unveils Sexperience site

18 July, 2011 | By Alex Farber

Channel 4 has launched a “digital visualiser” to present the results of the Sexperience survey it commissioned around the fifth series of The Sex Education Show.

Developers Mint Digital and Lingobee have created a site which allows the results to be filtered by factors such as gender, age, location, sexuality, phone owned or car driven.

The site, which has a pixelated theme, allows people to drill down to track one respondents answers across each of the 20 questions.

Adam Gee, C4’s multiplatform commissioning editor Adam Gee said the site was a fun way for people to learn.

“Sexperience 1000 is a playful and engaging way for people to absorb information about the nation’s sexual preferences, and find out whether their own personal experiences tally with the results. In short, what is normal – a big concern for teens in particular,” he said. “This innovative visualisation represents the data in such a way that while users can see the bigger picture, the individual still counts.”

Results of the Ipsos MediaCT survey reveal that the Welsh are most likely to cheat on their partners, Marks & Spencer shoppers are most likely to have an orgy, and nipple clamps are most used by 46-54 year olds.

The Sex Education Show, produced by Remarkable Television, airs on Tuesday (19th July on C4).

[Reproduced courtesy of Broadcast]

Back to the Fatherland 2

…so I headed down to the city museum – nothing from the 20th century covered, they pointed me to the Zeitgeschichtliches Forum Leipzig (Forum of Contemporary History) – that covers from 1945 onwards focusing on the GDR. So by any standards a big gap in their city history, the 30s and 40s an official blank. But I had a break through. In the back of the museum shop I found a facsimile map of the city from 1938 – the year my grand-parents got the helloutta here and arrived in London. Promenadenstrasse wasn’t renamed after a Soviet leader but after an artist socialist by nature, Käthe Kollwitz, her inherent empathy for the less fortunate evident throughout her life’s work. As soon as I’d figured out how the old map mapped onto the new I headed over. The route took me from the old town hall past the famous Thomaskirche, last resting place of JS Bach, and then past the site of the Community Synagogue of Leipzig, burnt down on Kristallnacht in November 1938. They burnt the place down and then charged the Jews for the demolition costs. The lost 14,000 (not including never-to-be descendants) are commemorated by the empty chairs of the congregation in dull bronze set out on a flat blank concrete base. When I got to 16 Promenadenstrasse where my paternal grandparents lived from (I think) 1935 to 1938 that too was flat, blank, empty. A carpark, albeit a tranquil one shaded by trees and bathed in dappled autumnal light on my special visit. I can see from no. 14 the kind of building it probably was, a typically elegant Leipziger apartment in a tasteful neighbourhood. My grandfather was always a snappy dresser – like my youngest brother and my older son (that gene skipped me for better or worse) – so I can picture him easily in these streets.

The view from No. 1 Nordplatz

Next stop was Nordplatz, slightly further out from the centre, where he lived as a bachelor with his older sister’s family. No. 1 proved to be all present and correct, with a beautiful view over St. Michaelis church, a Gothicky affair built between 1901 and 1905, and the green beside it. Another smart apartment building where I stood on the threshold trodden by Nat Gewurtz (later Gee, 1938 was a good year for dumping German surnames) and his sister Else Wolf, peering in to the interior which has evidently been revamped in recent times. I was glad to see he’d enjoyed such a beautiful and calm home. From there to Promenadenstrasse – then next stop 5 Highbury Grove.

My next stop was the address on the Nazi birth certificate, 84 Biedermannstrasse, Sankt Elisabeth Krankenhaus, the Catholic hospital where my father was born. It was only a few blocks south of MDR (Mittel Deutsch Rundfunk), the main broadcaster in the region where I spoke yesterday on Crossmedia and Broadcaster Online Strategy to an audience primarily of factual film-makers which also included a State Minister of Saxony and the President of German/French broadcaster Arte. I spoke among other things about Surgery Live, which I reckon many of them thought had come from another planet. Seven Days was from another galaxy. From the feedback I received afterward it seems my passion for the possibilities of interactive, networked media and the boldness of our ambition at the very least landed home even if the out-thereness of Channel 4’s approach and the freedoms of British culture were somewhat alien to some of the Euros. I should have mentioned another of my projects which I also spoke about in my presentation, One Born Every Minute, because that would have given me an easier segue back to the maternity unit at Sankt Elisabeth Hospital. On arrival it was clear it has been recently refurbished so fear of disappearance returned. I found the maternity unit now in a clean modern block. A chat with the receptionist soon established that the original maternity block still stood and as I roamed the corridors of the art deco building I stumbled across the original foundation stone dated 1930. That meant when my father was born there it was an equally state of the art set-up. An irony of course was that he never got to see the place himself again after his blurry-eyed first days. He died a few years after the uprising that started in Leipzig and ended with the Fall of the Wall, never getting/taking the opportunity to come back.

I’ve enjoyed a couple of days with the presence of my grand-father and father around me. I see a tiny sticker on the wall of the hospital saying “I will wait for you” (in English). I spot a sparrow (my favourite bird, rather thin on the ground these days in England) hanging around. A warm autumn sunshine shines down from a perfect azure sky the whole weekend, contrary to the usually reliable information on my WeatherPro iPhone app, created by German-based MeteoGroup with a Teutonic regard for precision.

{2nd photo courtesy of Leipzigpost}

Seven Days ChatNav in Broadcast

Here’s the Leader in this week’s Broadcast by Lisa Campbell

A new vision of reality TV | 7 October, 2010 | By Lisa Campbell

Seven Days isn’t rating, but its interactivity makes compelling viewing.

“People never know what is wrong with them and other people see it right away.” Just one of the many poignant lines in the current series of BBC4’s Mad Men, but one which could so easily have been written for Seven Days, which launched that same evening on Channel 4.

It sums up just what’s so compelling about the new reality show – the fact that participants see themselves through the eyes of others and are forced to challenge perceptions of the self.

So far, so Big Brother, you might say, but unlike BB, the outside world is allowed in, with members of the public giving direct feedback on actions and behaviour. What’s interesting is the immediate and discernible impact this has on the subsequent behaviour of those involved. As far as social experimentation goes, it makes Big Brother look more like Watch With Mother.

Yes, the first episode was dull, but it was about establishing the characters. The second episode was when the genius emerged. From the bizarre walk-on-part of a member of the public in the opening café scene (initially, it felt like a set-up, but anyone hanging around Notting Hill can be captured by the cameras) to the public as puppet-master, it’s a concept that messes with the mind.

The ‘chatnav’ social media element of the project makes for a fascinating, often surreal watch. So, for example, you’re on a laptop reading comments while watching the show, watching a character on the show on their laptop responding to those comments (still with me?).

It’s intriguing to see how the contestants respond to the scrutiny; how bizarre it is, for instance, to watch an obviously ‘smug’ character relay her shock at being described as such. Or how amusing to watch those facing criticism suddenly trot out the sob stories – an echo of the cynical ploys adopted by real-life celebrities.

C4 is bound to be disappointed with the ratings after marketing the hell out of the show, and while it’s far from perfect (a location outside London might have been nice), it should be applauded for having the guts to experiment, to learn lessons from it and to continue trying to push the boundaries of cross-platform content.

Lisa Campbell is editor of Broadcast

{courtesy of Broadcast}

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