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Visualising Material World

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Mark Damazer Mark Damazer 14:51, Wednesday, 24 June 2009


We're experimenting this week. Material World - our weekly science programme presented by Quentin Cooper - will be accompanied, live, by some pictures. It will not be television and I won't reveal exactly how it will work - but give it a try. The visuals will stay up for several days after the programme - so if you don't catch it live you will still be able to see it.

We have done a fair amount of Radio 4 visualisation but we're still feeling our way. Here are some samples - the most recent being from Today last week. I thought that one was rather intriguing. The most complex thing we tried - quite a while ago now - was around Drama - a project called The City Speaks, from March 2008, which had TV images transmitted while a series of short plays were being transmitted in the Afternoon Play 1415 slot (the original story was by Peter Ackroyd). It was not television. That would have defeated the purpose of the enterprise. It was a bit giddy to watch and listen - but the plays worked as pure radio plays and it was fascinating.

We all know that we are not trying to make television - but we feel there are a limited number of things we might do where some kind of visualisation can add to a programme's editorial clout - or entertainment. It's early days... and we'll keep going with it...


  • Comment number 1.

    Sorry to be a 'damp squib' on all this but how much money is this sort of thing costing, at a time when the BBC has been that it needs to save money wouldn't it be better to either save this money or put it into actual programme (editorial) production. Sorry but it seems to me that, with this and all the recent talk about 'radio-vision' (otherwise known as 'television' since the late 1930s...), that there must be a lot of frustrated radio people who wish they were working in TVC and not the new media building along the road - so to speak - is this a side effect of moving radio out of Broadcasting House and mixing it with those from television?!...

    Also, can you tell me how to access this - err - content using my trusty old transistor-radio, not even sure if my new-fangled DAB radio will display it either, single colour, dot matrix LEDs seem to have many restrictions on what can be displayed... [/tongue in cheek]

  • Comment number 2.

    I suspect that the internet is changing the very nature of radio, television and film, Boilerplated.

    I rather like your visualisations of 'Material World'; immaterial worlds are, perhaps, rather more difficult to visualise.


  • Comment number 3.

    "The visuals will stay up for several days after the programme - so if you don't catch it live you will still be able to see it." Where? Is this referring to the Flickr photographs?

  • Comment number 4.

    @Al There's been a delay getting the Material World visualisation up on the web site so that you can replay it. Policies vary: some programmes will archive their visualisation materials and others won't. Check the Material World home page over the weekend. I hope it'll be there by then.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 5.

    Mark Friend, the Audio and Music multiplatform/interactive boss, has some more context about the trial's background over at the BBC Internet blog.

  • Comment number 6.

    "Check the Material World home page over the weekend. I hope it'll be there by then."

    Well, I still haven't found it. The reason most people listen to a programme via a computer is that they want to hear it other than at the time it was broadcast. It seems a very poor trial that is only available during the live broadcast.


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