PixelPower

Pixel Power Creative Services team get results for the BBC and STV

The background

Broadcasters across the world are battling increased competition while striving to keep their costs under control. It’s essential that they continue to innovate, providing a complete onscreen experience that grabs audiences’ imaginations and holds their attention, strengthening their brand through content over and above the video and audio. But how can broadcasters achieve this eyeball loyalty while working with reduced staffing levels?

Pixel Power’s Creative Services team provides the ability for broadcasters to integrate user-generated content by outsourcing the design and creation of value added graphics as well as complementary technologies and services. Broadcasters including the BBC and STV have chosen to take advantage of Pixel Powers creative services.

The challenge

For the BBC the challenge was to continue to increase viewer involvement and interaction with the Autumnwatch and Springwatch series. The BBC wanted to be able to allow viewers to upload their photographs of local wildlife that could then be viewed via the interactive “red button” facility across the country. While this needed to be automated it also required an editorial approval process prior to air. STV initially turned to Pixel Power in 2010 as it prepared its national election coverage – a similar system was also used for regional elections in 2011. The challenge was to bring all the drama of election night, with the rapid-fire results and dramatic changes of political fortune, into viewers’ living rooms. Pixel Power’s Creative Services team developed a system that could take the third party amount of data supplied by staff out in the constituencies, as well as that via external feeds, combine it with information already held, including photographs of each candidate and then present that data quickly and elegantly onscreen in the form of a well organised, visually rich graphical experience; quite a challenge.

The solution

For Autumnwatch, Pixel Power’s in-house team, in conjunction with Stephen Mills of BG+C, a long-time third-party Pixel Power application developer, created a system that took viewer-uploaded images from a range of Flickr® pages and then presented them to air. The application downloaded the images, including the metadata, then automatically presented them for editorial review. With a simple button push the images were published to a Pixel Power Clarity unit, the photos moving in sequence across the TV screen.  

In the case of STV the Pixel Power application gathered all the data that was presented via an internal database and ingested from an external feed (in the case of the national elections last year), then organised that data for rapid access. At a director’s instruction, an operator could then use a series of simple drop- down menus to select precisely what they required: name, party, constituency, number of votes, photograph – the list goes on. The application then preselected the data, cued it and pushed it to a Clarity unit for playout.

The results

The STV solution was a fantastic success with the broadcaster continuing to use it on subsequent broadcasts. It collated a vast amount of data quickly and effectively, then presented it to an operator in a visual form that meant graphics and images could be put on-air as soon as they were needed. Viewers were brought closer to the action adding to the tension of live election reporting. Sam Dornan, News Operations Manager, STV, says “Both from an editorial perspective and from my own technical perspective we were delighted with the service from Pixel Power. The Creative Services team was excellent to work with and put in a great deal of effort in to both projects.”

Through choosing an external platform such as FlickR, which already has a huge following with audience members then creating a workflow to integrate with Clarity technology ensured that viewers of Springwatch and Autumnwatch were able to share their natural world experiences and to feel the thrill of being part of the shows.

Summary

Pixel Power’s Creative Services team – including Stephen Mills of BG+C – allows broadcasters to go where they otherwise may fear to tread for cost, time or overall complexity reasons. The team can create applications that give a far more immersive result. The company’s experience with broadcasters across the world provides a deep well of creative ideas that can be called upon at any time.