Since Channel 4’s launch in 1982 it has consistently been at the forefront of innovation in public service broadcasting.
As specialists 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. Then within the microsite we embedded interactive features. These included 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. It 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. It was hand drawn by Ruh Al-Alam from the specialist agency Make Me Believe. Meanwhile, 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. Channel 4 were keen to lead the charge in exploiting the potential of this new app-driven platform.
Corporation Pop responded to an open brief to develop interactive content for the home building series Grand Designs. We proposed an application providing a user-navigable, realistic 3D virtual environment that recreates the buildings shown in the TV programmes.
Pressing the red button on the TV remote gave access to the environment, whilst simultaneously watching the show. Viewers could then enter rooms, look at details and explore the building. Interactive ‘hotspots’ allowed viewers to find out more information about products and materials used in the construction. A map showed their current location within the model whilst a video window showed the broadcast stream.
Channel 4 cited the project as evidence of investment in innovation during a House of Lords Communications Committee media convergence inquiry.
Channel 4’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, multi-platform content like this was “forging partnerships between parts of the creative industry that have hitherto been strangers.”
The Twitter Tracker was a second screen application which monitored the Twitter ‘buzz’ around contestants on TV shows. It provided sentiment analysis on what is being said about each of them.
They used it for the first time on ‘The Taste’ — a 10 part cookery contest featuring Nigella Lawson and 12 would-be chefs. We then redesigned it 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 first calculated the percentage of total tweets that contestants received. Then it displayed a series of illustrative circles, which grew or shrank depending on the individual’s share of the buzz.
We designed and built another connected TV application to support the channel’s coverage of the Paralympic Games. This one showed how internet-streamed content could enhance sport coverage. Its function was to provide a framework for the delivery of four concurrent live video feeds. We also designed it to access catch-up video content. The viewer could view profiles of athletes and presenters and details of upcoming events. Additionally, we made background information on all the sports disciplines available and gave access to medals table results.
A ‘ticker-tape’ style feed at the bottom of the screen showed the latest tweets from athletes and 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. Viewers could personalise the application 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 returned to Corporation Pop time and again, relying on us to deliver their vision and push the boundaries in the relationship between TV and tech.