Friday, October 11, 2013

The BBC's secret weapon - The future of Television. I have seen it. I call it Media shift

Touchcast strengthens second screen viewing 

By David Dunkley Gyimah. Connect with him on Google 

The future of Television, where multimedia has been pensioned off.  Medium specificity is no more. And instead  media shift - fragmentary media mimics our psychological understanding of narrative, in a diffused medium on one platform. Confused already?

It works. I have seen it and by the time you finish reading this you will too.

Simply put,  what if you could bring the Net, Cinema, motion graphics, the photo play all together?

On the one hand we're recycling the famous Plato's Cave illustration of simulating Cinema before it became the cinema, you and I know.

For film scholar Robert Stam it is Bakhtin's carnival, "an anti classical aesthetic that rejects formal harmony and unity in favour of the asymmetrical, the heterogeneous, the oxymoronic, the miscegenated".

We are in a super post modernism era. The future has folded back onto the past. It's the 1920s again, everything is possible before theory, process and the battery hen farm approach usurped our dialogical thinking.

I blame the institutions, which have spawned institutional ideological  thinking. There was a time when something meant something without an authority having to validate or remediate it.

So what is about to happen next should make you gasp because it is the institution that is helping to change our thinking. Focault called it Discursive Formation "[ institutional discourses with the nominative power to produce that which they speak of"]  Read Scannell's Media and Communication.

So if you're a disruptive individual there's room for you to score big.

Inside the BBC's think tank
It is a non-descript building removed from its new state-of-the-art fanciful buildings in central London. Tucked away on the fifth floor is the BBC's version of the Earthscope project.

It is here where a select group of people have been tasked with seeing the future of television; the BBC's own RnD.

David  Dunkley Gyimah at the BBC
And see they have. The BBC has had many firsts; more recently, the iPlayer which has turned into an unparallelled success.

But what is about to happen will turn our concept of television viewing upside down. It's a fairly bold statement and not a day goes by without someone proclaiming this or that is the future of television.

For some it's the fidelity of 4K television, talked up by this year's blockbuster movie The Hobbit. It's so real you can smell it.  Other experts  more presciently point to the future in this Guardian newspaper op ed.

I have been an avid prospector myself, winning a Knight Batten award for Innovation in Journalism and being one of the jurors for innovative media on the UK's highest television journalism awards.

Occaasionally, I get the opportunity to sneak at something e.g.  

So I hope I come with a bit of  knowledge of this area.

London Live
Across London, an equally exciting project is gripping media land - the launch next year of London's 2nd 24- hour television news station.

Truth! Someone from #Londonlive should send a spy into the BBC. The idea of linear television will continue to work with narrative, but how we access the narrative and its own 'cause and effect' causality is about to be disrupted.

In fact it already has, we just haven't been paying too much attention.

The BBC yesterday did two things to signal its intent; the rnot-so-new Director General Tony Hall provided an internal key speech for the BBC's vision and where next?. The BBC also showcased internally to staff, this new television, and the oohs and aahs flowed.

There own pilots which I have seen, I won't divulge, but I can talk about my work, which resulted in Charley, one of the futurologists from Touchcast spearheading the BBC project.

Spatial filmmaking

In 2001 A friend introduced me to the writings of  Lev Manovich and his ground breaking book, The Language of New Media.

We had an idea. What if media really became spatial as opposed to linear? That idea dovetailed with one of the mega projects at that time. I was asked to be a videojoutnalist for the Lennox Lewis camp as he was fighting Tyson for the undisputed heavyweight crown.

Myself and a colleague took a different approach to looking at the sport of boxing, from a grass root level and the result was this circular film called The Family. It had a beginning, but no middle and and end.

For Manovich, this approach was no big revelation. One of the UK's most exciting cinema scholars, Mark Cousins calls its schema plus variation.

What Manovich revealed was the template for filmmaking before it was Hollywoodised. Spatial cinema already existed in the the Zoetrope and Napoleon's triptych, so this new thing we stumbled upon was a variation on that spatial theme.

That idea went further to conceptiualise the Internet, outside called the Outernet, which  was first featured on Apple's website in 2006.

In 2006 I gave it a fairly obvious name: video hyperlinking. The Economist picked up on it in this article. The Economist wrote:
.. at, a website that is experimenting with hypervideo, the term “drilling” is used to describe the ability to click on a talking head during a sound bite to summon an entire interview. 
What the BBC has achieved, which is only the tip of the futuretv-berg is video hyperlinking of varying sorts.  This is a visual manifest that you control, one that provides endless possibilities. It's like television in its nascent stage so it would appear we're still thinking linear.

But I have it on good faith that we'll soon be experimenting with the Touchcast on IT can't come soon enough.

Solo - a film about videojournalism from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.

Now here's the big reveal. Imagine everything you read here, you had control of on a platforms which collapsed video around my tweets, blogs, external links, links within links and that you could influence the direction, even add to the narrative.  That's touchcast.

Davd Dunkley Gyimah is the creator of To contact him email David (at) (dot ) TV.

I'll demo my Phd thesis into the future of videojournalism. Read more about David Dunkley Gyimah's career