Radio 1's Band In Your Hand
I recently asked Hugh Garry, a producer for Radio 1 interactive, to write about his latest project...
For last year's Big Weekend I ran an ARG called Frozen Indigo Angel. It was a superb project that saw me spend a few months lying to my family and colleagues, causing major security alerts at Radio 1, wondering around London in a bunny suit and playing the role of an agent meeting strangers on street corners across the UK.
I have really happy memories of it. My only regret being that I took the secrecy element of it too seriously. Because of the storyline it was impossible to PR without giving the whole game away. A few day after launch I had the national press wanting to know the story behind why Paul Denchfield was claiming I had sacked him to which I simply replied "There is no story - the bloke is a crank". A great opportunity for press around the game lost. The real press should have kicked in towards the end when the game merged with the ill-fated Perplex City Season 2, which sadly had its box lid closed before it really got started. Apart from the players and people within the BBC not a lot of people knew what a brilliant game it was.
So... for this year I wanted to do something simple. Attention grabbing. Gimmicky if you like. Something I could demonstrate in one click, that I didn't have to lie to my girlfriend and boss about or dress in a bunny costume for. The result was Band In Your Hand.
With Madonna topping the bill at this year's event demand was always going to be high for the 15,000 pairs of tickets available so we wanted to do something for the people who didn't get tickets. Over half a million people were on the receiving end of bad news by the time ticket registration closed. In their email delivering the bad news there was a link directing them to Band In Your Hand. There they could download some software and print out a sheet of paper with two Radio 1 logos on. When they held the first logo up to their webcam The Big Weekend tent appeared on the paper they were holding. Out of the speakers boomed Zane Lowe's voice apologising for the lack of tickets but in their hand they now had The Frattellis playing live. As they held the other logo to the webcam an exclusive acoustic video performance of The Fratellis' 'Mistress Mabel' appeared on the paper. You can see the video of Scott Mills trying it on this page.
The application uses augmented reality technology that has been around for a few years. I'd been looking for an excuse to use it since seeing the demos at Picnic07, and bearing in mind how I felt about last year this seemed like the perfect opportunity. My first worry was that you'd need a top-end machine to use it but it works on any PC running XP or Vista and could be viewed using a £10 webcam (like mine). The next issue was the scanning - did it have to be printed on special paper? No is the simple answer. It can scan anything you tell it to scan and can read from t-shirts if that's where you want the augmentation to appear... like this.
The exclusive video, the secret page, the magic of the technology and the wow factor of seeing it in real life all add up to another fantastic project to have worked on. Unfortunately music rights restricted us to a seven day window and it was not available on Macs so there were a few barriers, but other than that the whole project was quite effortless. The video of Scott Mills trying it has just been added to YouTube and seems to be spreading faster than a nasty rumour in the offices of Radio 1, so it should live on way beyond the 7 days in video form.
The chances to use this in radio are very limited but the possibilities for TV and education are endless, perhaps Top Gear might be able to demo cars in greater detail like this. Anyway, that's not for me to be thinking about now.... I need to be thinking about what we're doing for Big Weekend 2009. All suggestions welcome.
You can read more about technology and the Big Weekend from Ben Chapman over on the BBC Internet blog