Imagine a world where the BBC makes content that’s perfect - just for you.
Content that’s tailored for your circumstances, preferences and devices. Programmes that understand your viewing habits, and flex to fit. Experiences that reflect the things you love, and offer extra information just when you might need it.
Object-Based Media can do all this.
Object-based media allows the content of programmes to change according to the requirements of each individual audience member.
The ‘objects’ refer to the different assets that are used to make a piece of content. These could be large objects: the audio and video used for a scene in a drama – or small objects, like an individual frame of video, a caption, or a signer.
By breaking down a piece of media into separate objects, attaching meaning to them, and describing how they can be rearranged, a programme can change to reflect the context of an individual viewer.
We think this approach has potential to transform the way content is created and consumed: bringing efficiencies and creative flexibility to production teams, enabling them to deliver a personalised BBC to every member of our audience.
Each of the scenarios below is for illustrative purposes only and represent how BBC R&D work on Object-Based Media could manifest in the future.
When I watch the weather forecast on iPlayer, I can choose to replace the speaking presenter with a signing one. Because it knows me, iPlayer gives me a signer as default. It syncs with my calendar, knows where I’m planning to go in the next week, and gives me hyper-local forecasts. Ideal for planning my festival wardrobe for Radio 1’s Big Weekend!
I love EastEnders but with four episodes a week there’s a lot to catch up on after a fortnight in the sun. iPlayer knows what I’ve missed and it creates a catch-up episode of Enders just for me. All the juicy bits are there and I’m up to speed in 30 minutes instead of two hours.
I’m a passionate Accrington Stanley fan, I want to follow every move they make! Match of the Day Local lets me do just that. When I watch on iPlayer the programme focuses on my team, I can set which games I want to follow, and see how the league is shaping up.
Everyone’s Wonders of the Universe
When Wonders of the Universe first started it caused arguments in our house because of the soundtrack. We always loved how atmospheric it is but Gran’s hearing issues meant that she had trouble hearing Brian Cox over the music. These days our telly knows when she is in the room and adjusts the audio mix around her so she can hear the dialogue clearly.
Personal Podcast Commute
My commute can take me anything from 35 minutes to an hour. I usually listen to a podcast like Inside Science. By the time I’m on the train, iPlayer Radio has created and downloaded a length-perfect podcast for me. It’s great that iPlayer can make the programme fit my commute, rather than me missing the end.
Me and the Band
Because I’ve tagged tracks I love on iPlayer Radio, when it comes to Glasto there’s already a personalised channel for me. The ‘Tune Me In’ feature is excellent. During Goat Girl’s set I muted the lead guitar, got the sheet music and lyrics on my phone, and became Goat’s guitarist. I saved my performance, did a bit of an edit, and now I’ve shared it with my followers on SoundCloud.
‘Reversioner’ R4-World Service
As a radio producer I’m asked to supply shorter versions of the programmes I’ve made for different broadcast slots. This would take a great deal of extra time if we didn’t have ‘Reversioner’ - I can choose a new duration and the tool creates an edit for me to review, polish and publish.
‘Live Reversioner’ - Automatic Package Editing on the fly
On a live news programme sometimes interviews can overrun meaning that there’s not enough time to run certain pre-recorded packages. With Live Reversioner, I can quickly reversion the package to fit the amount of time left in the programme, and more of my hard work reaches audiences.
‘Rushing the Rushes’
Now that our cameras are connected to the cloud, they can be accessed by everyone on my production. Whilst we’re filming all the footage is automatically ingested, logged, and arranged into a rough edit for me to finesse. Extra footage is easy to find as the system has classified it, telling me what kind of shot it is, and who’s in the frame. It’s also already transcribed making it even more searchable.
Digging Deeper into Drama - ‘Narrative Next’
As a drama producer, I often want to go beyond the allocated time slot, to tell deeper stories, or let audiences explore character profiles and back stories. With production tools like ‘Narrative Next’ viewers can access interactive versions of our dramas where they can follow their favourite characters. I can use the automatically marked-up rushes of these actors to offer an edited package about the character they’d like to know more about.
‘Remix’ – perfect audio wherever you are
Audiences want to enjoy our programmes everywhere. With mobile devices, they might start watching or listening to a programme at home and then finish the rest on the bus. Object-based media allows me to specify different audio mixes for different environments - if people are listening on the move, I can make sure that the sound is just right for them - whatever their surroundings.
‘Duration Controller’ – The Woman’s Hour Serial
A full series of our Woman’s Hour serial can be up to 70 minutes of content. The omnibus edition needs to be substantially shorter. Rather than reviewing the episodes to decide where I can save time, all I need to do is ask my edit tool to ‘show me all the recaps’, or ‘which character has the least airtime?’ and I can quickly work out what needs to stay and what can go.
‘Be efficient and increase the reach’
I see the stories I’ve written appear in lots of different places across the BBC network. When I write copy I mark it up so my report can be reused anywhere. I don’t have to worry about the layout, because the images and text are automatically styled for Newsround, the main News page, and the BBC Click site.
These links will take you to examples of BBC R&D’s work on Object-Based Media - from content ideas, to the research we are doing to make how to make it a viable reality at scale.
A personalised, interactive episode, based on your interests and tailored to how you want to experience the show.
A real-time, interactive cookery show that changes in response to you.
The Mermaid’s Tears
The World’s first end-to-end Object-Based Media radio drama.
A binaural version of an episode from series 10 made available on BBC iPlayer.
A radio documentary where audiences could listen to the complete story at a length that fit in with the time they had to listen.
An experimental Object-Based weather forecast.
A new way to enjoy and understand drama and stories on the web.
A production tool that can automatically create montages of news stories to any duration.
Newsbeat Explains/Atomised News
Piecing together the news for young audiences.
A magical binaural sound-led VR fairy-tale.
Visual Perceptive Media
Personalised video which responds to your personality and preferences.
Making it work at scale
R&D is exploring ways of making Object-Based Media to scale, infinitely repeatable and standardised.
Exploring ways to distribute and consume Object-Based Media experiences at scale and investigating how we broadcast live personalised AR experiences to millions of people.
Object-Based Media Toolkit
Taking object-based media to the next level by supporting content creators with tools and workflows that enable real-world production for responsive object-based experiences.
BBC R&D’s approach to an infrastructure for IP production that will enable Object-Based Media.