Since Channel 4’s launch in 1982 they have consistently been at the forefront of innovation in public service broadcasting.
As we specialise in new and innovative technology solutions they have chosen to work with us on a number of ground-breaking projects over the years.
For Channel 4’s first Ramadan season we created a microsite within the channel’s main website. Within the microsite were interactive features such as a countdown to the Calls to Prayer, a sentiment gauge, and an infographic highlighting the do’s and don’ts for Muslims during Ramadan.
The sentiment gauge encouraged site visitors to tweet a word after the hashtag #RamadanMeans and then displayed the 100 most popular words against a background of the moon. Over the course of the month the moon animated to reflect the current stage of the lunar cycle.
Overlaying the tweets was the word ‘Ramadan’ written in Arabic calligraphy, hand-drawn by Ruh Al-Alam from specialist agency Make Me Believe while a clock on the homepage counted down to each of the five daily prayers and, at the appropriate times each day, revealed a short film of the Call to Prayer.
When connected TVs first emerged on the market there was a lot of excitement about the potential of this new app-driven platform and Channel 4 were keen to lead the charge. In response to an open brief to develop interactive content to support the popular home-building series ‘Grand Designs’ we came up with the idea of an application that provided a user-navigable, realistic 3D virtual environment that recreates the buildings shown in the TV programmes.
Pressing the red button on the TV remote gives access to the environment, whilst simultaneously watching the show. Viewers can enter rooms, look at details and explore the building. Interactive ‘hotspots’ allow them to find out more information about products and materials used in the construction and a map indicates the viewer’s current location within the model whilst a video window shows the broadcast stream.
This project was cited by the channel as evidence of its investment in innovation in a report to the House of Lords Communications Committee as part of its media convergence inquiry.
The channel’s then Head of Online, Richard Davidson-Houston said: “The prototype renders the building as complete in order that, if you are interested enough, you can go and engage even more deeply with the wonder of the architecture”
He added that this kind of emerging multi-platform content was “forging partnerships between parts of the creative industry that have hitherto been strangers to one another”
The Twitter Tracker is a second screen application which monitors the Twitter ‘buzz’ around contestants on TV shows and provides sentiment analysis on what is being said about each of them.
Used for the first time on ‘The Taste’ – a 10 part cookery contest featuring Nigella Lawson and 12 would-be chefs, and then redesigned for ‘The Jump’ – a nightly show in which celebrities competed in a range of winter sports, Twitter Tracker tracked tweets containing both the show’s hashtag and the contestant’s names. It calculated the percentage of total tweets that contestants had received displaying them as a series of circles, each representing an individual, which grew or shrank depending on the their share of the buzz.
We designed and built another connected TV application to support the channel’s coverage of the Paralympic Games and to demonstrate how internet-streamed content could enhance sport coverage. The core function was to provide a framework for the delivery of four concurrent live video feeds as well as the ability to access catch-up video content. The viewer was able to view profiles of athletes and presenters, details of upcoming events, background information on all of the sports disciplines and medals table results.
A ‘ticker-tape’ style feed at the bottom of the screen showed latest tweets from athletes as well as news bulletins while an ‘Equipment’ section of the app allowed the viewer to find out more about the specialist equipment used by the athletes. For example an interactive 3D model showed how Wheelchair Rugby wheelchairs differed from standard ones and highlighted their performance improving modifications. The application could be personalised through a user dashboard to drill down on specific information and even to find information on local athletes using geo-location technology.
A meeting of minds
When two organisations sing from the same hymn sheet a beautiful friendship is born and great things can come from it. Channel 4 have come to Co-Pop time and again, relying on us to deliver their vision and push the boundaries in the relationship between TV and tech.