Category Archives: channel 4

Sponsored video: Make Bradford British – a twitter visualisation that will tap into our collective consciousness about what makes us British

Channel 4 has created a lovely visualisation of Twitter conversation for their documentary series ‘Make Bradford British’ which airs this Thursday. The series brings together people of different races and backgrounds to see if they can come up with a common notion of the thread that binds them together – what it means to be British.

The Twitter visualisation is a great match for the genre of documentary; which in itself provokes thought, reaction and most of all is based on a basic human curiosity. By exposing others thoughts and reactions you tap into that aroused curiosity – showing what everyone else is thinking.  It’s tracking the hashtag #makesyoubritish and invites people to say what they think makes us British, be it a full English breakfast, sarcasm or our glorious weather.

It’s also very pretty, and very populated prior to the programme airing, which is a bonus. This is always a worry with Twitter visualisations for TV, with marketing sending people to the programme information page prior to transmission and an empty visualisation looking rather lackluster. Although that said, there are currently no tweets referencing the hashtag in Twitter yet, so it’s obviously dummy data, but I think that works in this case as a catalyst and inspiration to get the conversation going.

I also like the element of ‘play along’ provided by the Channel 4 Citizenship test. When pairing up digital experiences with TV genres it’s not often a ‘play along’ style would work with documentaries (rather quiz shows or contests) but the idea of finding out how you would do in the citizenship test works perfectly for this.

I did the test and scored a pretty embarrassing 38% so according to the test I’m not eligible for UK citizenship. The questions are surprisingly hard. Do you know what percentage of the UK’s population lives in Scotland? Or how many years a driving license is granted for if you take your test after 70??

The first episode of Make Bradford British on Channel 4 at 9pm this Thursday (1st March). Here’s the trailer:

(Sponsored post)


Datacopter ‘Twitter Tracker’ for C4 Drama The Promise

This is the latest instance of Datacopter for Channel 4 drama, The Promise.  Here it is called a ‘Twitter Tracker‘ and it represents all of the conversation relating to the drama over the four weekly episodes.

When Channel 4 first saw The Promise, they recognised that the drama may cause debate around the Israel / Palestine crisis, and wanted to find a way to represent this conversation in a fair way.

Written and directed by Peter Kosminsky, The Promise is a compelling drama set in both modern day Israel and 1940’s Palestine, telling a tale of two ages via two main characters, Erin and her Grandfather.  It’s definitely a gripping drama, which has had amazing tweets from people saying as much, so if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend catching up.

The Twitter Tracker has been designed to specifically represent the breadth of the conversation around the drama, the issues and debate it raises and the characters, to ensure that no large topic drowns out all the others, purely based on numbers or ‘loudness’.  In a sense, it represents not just the top trending topics, but the long tail of conversation.

The visualisation itself consists of a timeline, covering the 4 episodes, which allows you to highlight a specific episode and see the aggregate conversation around it.  Below that are a series of ‘planets’ with corresponding ‘moons’ (a conversation constellation, if you will).  Each planet represents a theme and has a series of moons around it to show related terms to that theme.  As you click on planets and moons you alter the tweets that are shown to you on the right hand side, which drill down as you drill down by clicking on the timeline, planets or moons.

There is some super clever science / maths behind the constellation model, which I’m sure my colleague Steve (who built this) will blog about soon, and I will not attempt to try and explain here!

Here are some initial sketches we sent to the multiplatform commissioner at C4, which I hastily sketched up after an ideas session with Jenni and Steve.  This kicked the project off, but from this we developed the idea quite a lot onto the constellations.  It’s always nice to revisit the first seed of an idea!


And here is a screenshot of the first prototype of the planets and moons Steve made:

My colleague Jenni who has been working on this project from a UX / design perspective has started making a story of the project on Storify, a nice little service that allows you to curate stories by pulling in media from all different sources, such as tweets, flickr photos and blog posts.  She asked that I caveat that this ‘story’ isn’t finished – she still wants to add in some narrative around the media – so it will develop over time!

The Big 4 art project – Time to breathe

The new art installation on Channel 4’s Big 4 is being built this week. This time they’re building a membrane and vents on it for Hannah Gourlay’s Time to Breath which has been designed to create a brief moment of calm for passers by. Her design involves covering each section of the ‘4’ with fabric and sees the 4 softly breathe, inhaling and exhaling slowly. At night it is lit from within to create a gentle glow that lightens and darkens at the same pace.

Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock Live pilot

Tonight I went to see the pilot of 10 O’Clock Live, a new live comedy and current affairs show hosted by David Mitchell, Jimmy Carr, Charlie Brooker and Lauren Laverne.  Myself and Jopkins are doing some social stuff around the programme and it was interesting to meet some of the other people working on it too.  And it was fucking funny – a bit wobbly perhaps being one of the first times they’ve done it live (this was the second pilot) but nothing a series of 15 episodes wont settle.  David Mitchell was stand out, and Jimmy Carr’s seal laugh (which always makes me happy) was out in full force.

They did a bit of social media integration on the show, featuring a facebook poll from the fanpage.  I really hope there will be more as the show progresses.

See the trailer for the show here and catch the first episode next Thursday 20th January at 10pm.

Follow it on twitter @1ooclocklive.

Datacopter – a NixonMcInnes product – visualising & measuring conversation

I’m very proud to have been involved in the development of Datacopter, a product which is the baby of my colleague Steve, who runs the Applied Technology practice at NixonMcInnes.

As per our marketing blurb “Datacopter turns the online conversation around TV programmes into bespoke, interactive experiences, visualising, encouraging and measuring second screen engagement.”

In essence Datacopter visualises the conversation in any number of ways.  You can see what the top keywords are at any one time:

What the ‘velocity’ or ‘tweetrate’ of the conversation is – how thick and fast the tweets are coming in:

The key themes and how they dominate the conversation over time:

There are many more ways Datacopter can analyse and visualise the data,  some of which aren’t developed yet – the limit is design and imagination.

The first outing (or should I say flight?) of Datacopter was for the Channel 4 project detailed in my last post, a live budget debate with an online game integration on Dispatches, How to save £100billion Live.  See Steve’s blog post about building it here.

We have also used Datacopter to look at the conversation around the final Big Brother launch night, which was actually  before the first outing and more of a test internally and proof of concept.  I was at home running and screencasting Datacopter on my laptop, while watching the launch and it really was fascinating.  Seeing in real time an aggregated feed of real opinion of people on Twitter of the contestants.  Rather than just the river of random thoughts you might see following a keyword or hashtag on Twitter Search, Datacopter really showed the collective consciousness in a snapshot, showing the top 5 keywords at any one time about that contestant or point in the live programme.  What was also fascinating was seeing the velocity of tweets shoot up within the first 30 seconds of the first ad break.  This ad break was also the most expensive piece of ad real estate on Channel 4 in that whole year, and I can’t help but thinking that the insight of tweeting behaviour could have informed the ad creative in an exciting way.

We’re currently working on a Datacopter instance for Channel 4 for a Drama which is airing in February, which is an interesting new challenge.  Typically, we have used Datacopter on Live event TV, which makes sense as it visualises conversation in real time.  This drama is over a four week period, with 4 episodes, so conversation is going to happen over a different sense of time and space to live event TV.  The drama also poses a challenge in that it’s going to be quite controversial as it tackles a particular political issue in a controversial way, so the design challenge we had was to represent the conversation in a fair, balanced way without manipulating what we show but also without the debate overshadowing other conversation about the drama itself.  I can’t wait to show you more, but for now, watch this space… or watch out for something on Channel 4 early Feb.