BBC World News’ technology programme, Click, has developed the world’s first interactive factual programme using object-based media technology, allowing viewers to choose from hundreds of thousands of alternative versions.
A year in the making, Click’s 1000th episode, which launches on Friday (5th July), offers viewers the chance to personalise their experience by making decisions as they’re watching, and can even tailor content according to what it learns about them.
Viewers will be able to explore the world’s self-driving capital, Phoenix, to hear about the backlash to self-driving cars, be introduced to some innovative tech entrepreneurs in Malawi, and meet the godfather of branching narrative content – choose your own adventure king, Ian Livingstone. They can choose which stories they want hear about, and in how much detail, decide to dive deeper or see things from a different perspective, or skip a section completely.
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The interactive episode used a content creation tool called StoryFormer, which was developed by the BBC’s Research & Development department. Whereas traditional editing tools line up blocks of audio and video on a timeline, StoryFormer allows production teams to break stories down into their constituent parts, such as audio, individual frames of video or captions, which can be dynamically personalised and shaped by the preferences of the person watching.
Simon Hancock, editor of BBC Click, said: “This approach has the potential to transform the way content is created and consumed in the future. It offers our viewers a bespoke experience, tailored to their specific interests, preferences and choices. It is a great example of how the BBC is at the forefront of innovation in broadcasting, as it has been for almost a century, and the future possibilities for object-based media in the factual space are incredibly exciting.”
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Click, which has been on air for nearly 20 years, regularly pioneers new ways of telling stories and has previously experimented with other ground-breaking production techniques, including 360 video, virtual reality and making shows entirely on mobile phones.