Research & Development

Posted by Maxine Glancy on , last updated

We're carrying out a series of studies at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival to understand ways in which the BBC might enhance its coverage of live events.

I’m Maxine Glancy, Lead Research Scientist in the User Experience team.

We're carrying out a series of studies at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival this week, to explore ways in which the BBC might extend coverage of events it wouldn’t normally reach, and understand ways in which the BBC might enhance its coverage of festivals, so that audiences at home get more of the experience of ‘being there’.

If you’re at the Edinburgh Festival, or have visited the festival in the past, we’d love you to contribute to our research by sharing your insights, reviews and ideas via an online diary. Just enter a nickname as your passcode to get started.

1. New production processes and tools

We're trying out two new production tools on site.

4K Nearly-Live

A series of static unmanned 4k cameras are fixed around an event space and remotely connected to ‘Primer’, a prototype audio/visual editing system connected over a high-speed network, allowing the user to mix the feeds from the cameras in near real-time (see photo above).

Through this set-up we are exploring production processes that are necessary to create TV programmes in new ways – and the possibilities of using such a system to extend the BBC coverage of live festival events in a cost effective way.


In a similar vein, we're working with Bootlegger to explore BBC coverage through community participation, so it’s not intrusive in the moment of capture. We are investigating how we might support contributors learning the vocabulary of film-making through the use of these enabling technologies, to provide shots in a format appropriate for the editorial process.

2. Festival concept demos

Two festival concept demos have been on display in the BBC’s area in Potterrow this week, for audiences to see, interact with and give their feedback on.

Festival Map showing GPS data and emotional response from the Emotion Wheel.

The Edinburgh Festival Map is a cumulative evolving map of the festival showing real-time activities and areas of interest. The map represents alternative viewpoints generated by media content and data from social media, GPS trackers, festival community photos, 360 video views, performance reviews, jokes, comedian biometric data and laughter levels. The user can filter views and use the map to navigate and plan their festival experience.

The Mosaic of Moments (above) combines BBC footage with festival community generated video and data, in a variety of template editable overviews.

The mix of content gives the audience the best of both worlds: the access of the professional crew, with the emotional responses and exciting moments in the crowd. There are also links to users’ social media accounts – to include moments made by friends, and artists/broadcasters they follow.

Users can define what media they want to see in their Mosaic of Moments, and can share/’gift’ the Mosaic with friends and family back home.

In the future, we aim to synchronise the media content to ‘this moment in time’ or longer time frames offering ‘the best bits of your festival experience’.

3. Data gathering activities

Touch TV/Haptic TV

A range of devices used in the home for Touch TV/Haptic TV.

The aim of the ‘Touch TV’ study is to explore if touch technology (or haptics, as we refer to it) is effective as an extra part of a broadcast stream, and how this extra sensory content is experienced alongside a TV programme.

Haptics are used regularly in computer games (e.g. the Xbox controller buzzes), and so we are exploring the question: “Can and should haptic forms of communication be used in the home, to become part of a TV programme?”

To do this we are recording biometric data from Festival performers, environmental data from event locations and laughter data from audience members. This data will then be analysed, edited and played-out alongside A/V footage in a series studies back in the user research lab in MCUK, to gain audience feedback on the Touch TV concept.


4. Audience feedback and group data

We’re gathering audience feedback on Festival performances and events, using simple devices to register opinions and emotional responses.

The FOB (above) is a physical button that tags keys moments with a single button press, while the online Emotion Wheel (below) is an engagement measurement tool thatallows the user to input the type and intensity of emotion to a moment, via their mobile phone/ tablet.

5. Ethnographic work

We’re gathering information about people’s experiences of the Edinburgh Festival as a whole, and about what people want from BBC coverage of Arts festivals, whether it’s experienced at the event or at home.

Online diaries and video diaries

We’re inviting Edinburgh Festival visitors to complete an online diary to share photos of and/or thoughts on the Festival experience. For example, a photo of something they found funny or embarrassing, or a comment about something unique, or a review of an event.

We’re incorporating interesting photos, videos and comments from the diaries into our Festival concept demos.

Animated audience comments

We are working with new technology from a start-up to collect spoken comments from visitors and use animated characters to visualise their words. This approach aims to alleviate the cold or nervous feeling of speaking into a microphone.

Designing future festival experiences

We are also recruiting visitors for ethnographic interviews, to find out what types of festival experience they want, and what they think about some of our Festival concept demos, such as the ‘Mosaic of Moments’ or the ‘Edinburgh Festival Map’ above.

If you’re at the Edinburgh Festival, or have visited the festival in the past, we’d love you to share your insights, reviews and ideas with us via the online diary. Just enter your first name or nickname as your passcode to get started. Your photos, videos and feedback from the diaries will be anonymised, and available for you to keep afterwards, and will not be given to third parties.

In future months we will update you further on our findings.