Archives for July 2012

Olympic Data Services and the Interactive Video Player

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Oliver Bartlett | 11:00 UK time, Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Photo of the BBC's Olympic Data Team

The Olympic Data Services Team at the Broadcast Centre in White City

Hi, I'm Oli Bartlett and for the last 15 months or so I've been the Product Manager for the BBC's Olympic Data services.

My team have built the systems which provide all of the London 2012 data to the BBC Sport Olympic website, mobile applications, IPTV applications and other BBC websites showing Olympics content.

We provide three main functions:

  • The Dynamic Semantic Publishing platform (DSP). This is the framework for creating over 10,000 athlete pages, plus a page per event, discipline, country and venue.
  • A service to receive, process and store data from the Olympic Broadcasters' Data Feed (BDF).
  • A stats service, the Olympic Data API providing all of the sports data: Schedules, starting lineups, results, records, medal tables and video logging data.

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Record breaking start to the Olympics for BBC Online

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Cait O'Riordan Cait O'Riordan | 14:30 UK time, Monday, 30 July 2012

Before the Olympic Games began, the BBC promised to deliver up to 24 simultaneous live streams of coverage to the biggest audience the Sport website has ever seen.

And my team managed that within the first 48 hours of live sporting action.

As the Head of Product for BBC Sport, it’s been a fantastic weekend for me and my team watching the Games unfold. Just after 3pm on Saturday afternoon we had all our encoders in action playing 24 live video streams of sporting action across desktop, mobile tablet, connected TVs and Red Button.

And Sunday was the busiest day ever on the BBC Sport site – with 6.1 million unique browsers in the UK and 8.3 million worldwide.

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What's on BBC Red Button 28th July - 4th August

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Tess Foster Tess Foster | 06:00 UK time, Saturday, 28 July 2012

What's On Red Button banner

London 2012 Olympics


Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London

All this week you can watch up to 24 streams of Olympics content on Red Button (satellite and cable) and Connected TV.

Full details are available on the Olympics schedule website.

BBC Sport Multiscreen**

During the Olympics you can also catch up on all the latest in other sports via the BBC Sport multiscreen. Headlines are available around the clock with up to five streams available to cover the best that BBC Sport has to offer.

Please note that Red Button sport timings are subject to change at short notice.

For the latest information refer to the BBC Sport website.

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Full BBC 3DTV Schedule For Olympics

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Kim Shillinglaw Kim Shillinglaw | 17:17 UK time, Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Hi. I'm Kim Shillinglaw and I'm the head of 3D for the BBC.

Summer seems to have finally arrived, and with that continues the BBC's 'Summer of 3D'. We've had Wimbledon - and what a final to have captured in three dimensions - and I'm now looking forward to the rather impressive Planet Dinosaur 3D in August, and the 3D simulcast of the Last Night of the Proms on 8th September.

Before all that though, we will of course be broadcasting Olympic highlights in 3D. For those of you who (like me!) didn't get tickets, you may want to sample some of the BBC's coverage. These free-to-air broadcasts in 3D will be available to anyone who has access to a 3D TV set and to HD Channels, regardless of which digital TV provider they use. For more information of how to access the BBC's 3D content go to

As previously announced, the BBC will be broadcasting The Opening Ceremony, Closing Ceremony, Men's 100m final and a highlights package at the end of each day in 3D.

Today I can confirm the full 3D schedule for the Olympics:

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What's On BBC Red Button 21st - 28th July

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Tess Foster Tess Foster | 06:00 UK time, Saturday, 21 July 2012

What's On Red Button banner

London 2012 Olympics


Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London

From Wednesday 25 July you will be able to watch up to 24 streams of Olympic content on Red Button (satellite and cable) and Connected TV.

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CBBC Game Workshop at Games Britannia

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Jon Howard Jon Howard | 16:00 UK time, Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Dozens of children standing in front of some adults wearing BBC badges.

CBBC Game Workshop 2 Attendees

I'm Jon Howard, Development Manager for Games in Children's Future Media.

As part of my role I run the Children's Future Media Games Stream which is responsible for developing all of the games on CBBC and CBeebies websites - overseeing agency builds as well as making many hugely successful in-house games.

Making games for children demands a huge amount of specific knowledge about how kids use computers, appropriate cognitive load and how to maximise engagement. The most important factor of all is fun, and making sure that fun is at the core of all BBC Children's games.

We spend a lot of time working with children while testing our games to ensure we maximise their input into our development processes. When invited to get involved at Games Britannia we jumped at the chance to let the kids lead on the game development front while we facilitated.

Games Britannia is a schools video game festival featuring 5 days of hands-on interactive workshops and lectures from leading figures in the games industry.

2011's Next Gen report by gaming guru Ian Livingstone and visual effects veteran Alex Hope called for programming skills to replace business software training in ICT classes.

If the UK is to be a hub for the video games industry, more focus needs to be put on how to write software than how to use it. This is at the heart of what Games Britannia is trying to achieve. The great and the good of the UK games industry, from Namco and Sumo to Bafta Games and UKIE, were drawn to such a noble cause.

Girls poring over paper prototypes at a table

paper prototyping at the workshop

Most of the kids who signed up for the CBBC game workshop were Key Stage 1 (5 to 7 year olds) with some Key Stage 2 (7 to 10). Our aim was for each team of children to build a working game that they could access online from their home computers after the workshop.

It was felt that programming would be too advanced given the available time. However game design is a discipline that we could cover which would allow a great deal of creative freedom. We wanted the attendees to feel inspired that they could create as well as consume.

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Super Hi Vision TV Screenings

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Tim Plyming | 11:10 UK time, Monday, 16 July 2012

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash Installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

Hi. I’m Tim Plyming and I’m the project lead for the BBC’s Super Hi-Vision trials taking place during the London 2012 Olympics.

As I spoke about in the video above, I’ve just finished a fantastic week of Super Hi-Vision filming in London with a crew made up of staff from Japanese broadcaster NHK and the BBC. Given this and the fact we’re now 11 days before the start of the Games, I thought this would be a great opportunity to tell you a bit more about the BBC’s Super Hi Vision trials.

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What's On BBC Red Button 14th - 21st July

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Tess Foster Tess Foster | 06:00 UK time, Saturday, 14 July 2012



Omid Djalili as Hercules and Perry Fenwick as Billy in Eastenders

Billy Mitchell sees his role as an Olympic torch-bearer as a chance to make his family proud but, as the big day looms, his nerves take over and his sleep is plagued by visions of what could go wrong. En route to a promotional event, things go from bad to worse for Billy - and he soon finds himself in a desperate race against time to fulfil his dream. Can cheeky cab driver Hercules and a whole host of sporting legends and celebrities avert Billy's Olympic Nightmare?

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BBC Olympic App on Android and iPhone

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Lucie Mclean Lucie Mclean | 08:30 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2012

Launch image, home page, and menu

BBC Olympics app on Android

Last month I wrote on this blog about the new mobile video services we've developed to help you enjoy the summer of sport - including live and catch-up video on your mobile and tablet.

My team, the mobile sport and 2012 team, has been using your feedback on our Euro 2012, F1 and Wimbledon coverage to continue improving the service, working on the video quality and reliability of playback.

And as we build up to the Olympic Games, I'm excited to be able to announce the release of our next new BBC Sport mobile product - the BBC Olympics smartphone app.

It's available on Android and iPhone, and we are introducing a shortcut for Blackberry devices too.

BBC Future Media's Mobile Platforms team, based alongside us at Mediacity UK in Salford, built the app.

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BBC Online Outage on Wednesday 11th July 2012

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Richard Cooper Richard Cooper | 10:38 UK time, Thursday, 12 July 2012

Hi, I'm Richard Cooper, the BBC's Controller of Digital Distribution for BBC Future Media.

As some of you will have noticed, we suffered a major failure of BBC Online last night. The site started to fail at 20:10, and by 20:25 was completely down. It stayed down until 21:10, when it started to recover, and by 21:30 the site was back. Some of you may then have experienced problems accessing some pages between 21:55 and 22:10 as we restored full resilience, and from 22:10 onwards we were back to full operation.

The problem was caused by a failure of the traffic managers in both our data centres.

These traffic managers are a critical part of our infrastructure, responsible for handling all requests to the site, and routing those requests to the right servers. They are designed to be highly reliable, and have served us very well to date.

We are still investigating the root cause of this incident, and I would like to apologise for any inconvenience that this outage may have caused. We are working hard to make sure that the causes of the issue are addressed, and that this does not happen again. I will keep you updated on this blog in the coming days.

Richard Cooper is Controller of Digital Distribution, BBC Future Media

Olympics: User Experience and Design

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Nick Haley Nick Haley | 15:00 UK time, Monday, 9 July 2012

Mockups of Olympic pages on four platforms

The same Olympic content appearing across different devices

I'm Nick Haley, the Head of User Experience and Design for Sport & London 2012 at BBC Future Media.

As the final pieces of our four-screen Olympic jigsaw come together, I thought I'd take the opportunity to share some of the design thinking that has gone into delivering this huge sporting event across desktop, tablet, mobile and connected TV.

Our Olympic project started back in 2011 and one of the key aims was to create a family of products across different platforms. During the Games, you will be able to access an incredible range of content via a wide range of devices and it was important that the experience across each was joined up and consistent. So whether you're checking the latest Team GB news in the morning on your phone or looking at rowing results on your computer at lunch, we wanted a sense that they all form part of the same overall experience.

The design team's ambition was to make it easy for you to find and interact with the content you want, when you want to. That meant understanding the different ways people use different devices, as well as getting to grips with an event of the scale of the Olympic Games.

Another aim for 2012 was to build on the foundation established by the BBC Sport website redesign. This meant reusing, where appropriate, the new page layouts and design language that had been created for Sport, but also exploring where we could go further and provide you with richer features and a greater depth of content.

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What's on BBC Red Button 7th - 14th July

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James Aslett | 06:00 UK time, Saturday, 7 July 2012

What's On Red Button banner

First Night of the Proms


Proms 2012 illustration, featuring the Royal Albert Hall

First Night of the Proms begins the world's greatest classical music festival in 2012 on BBC Two. Viewers will be able to press the Red Button to follow Radio 3's Sara Mohr-Pietsch on Twitter, as she guides you through the performances of the First Night with her Twitter Notes.

She also invites you and a selection of well-known names to share your thoughts about the Proms on Twitter.

Join in the conversation during the First Night of the Proms by including #bbcproms in your message. We'll be featuring some of your Tweets on Red Button throughout the programme.

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Further Ahead: Ten Day Forecasts on BBC Weather

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Jo Wickremasinghe Jo Wickremasinghe | 11:15 UK time, Friday, 6 July 2012

Birmingham will be rainy and stormy for this five days, but the forecast is precise enough for you to avoid the showers.

BBC Weather forecast page for Birmingham showing the 'Further ahead' button

Just over two weeks ago I posted a blog about the major upgrade we made to the BBC Weather website, introducing new hourly forecasts for UK locations and three hourly forecasts for International locations.

Yesterday we introduced extended forecasts, providing ten day forecasts for all our locations.

When you select a forecast location on BBC Weather you will see the forecast for today and the next four days in the tabs across the top of the page. Above the 'Find a Forecast' box you will now see a 'Further ahead' button which will take you to the following 5 days forecasts (i.e. into next week).

You can go back to the first five days by clicking the same button which now says 'First five days'.

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Connected Studio 4: Weather and Travel Build Studio

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Adrian Woolard | 18:00 UK time, Thursday, 5 July 2012

Man speaking in front of a TV displaying the BBC logo, and a Mozilla banner. Other men watch.

The teams finished the event with a ten-minute demo of their work

Last week, BBC Connected Studio ventured off site again, this time to MozSpace in central London for the second Build Studio, with the focus on the Weather and Travel Product.

From the 25 concepts that were pitched at the Creative Studio in Google Campus on June 12, six teams were selected to attend.

After my short introduction, and a briefing for each team from my colleagues in Weather, the teams began two intense days developing their proof of concept.

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