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British Broadcasting Corporation (United Kingdom)
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180 Projects, page 1 of 36
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/P011586/1
    Funder Contribution: 533,267 GBP
    Partners: University of Edinburgh, BBC

    The cost of producing dynamically-updated media content - such as online video news packages - across multiple languages is very high. Maintaining substantial teams of journalists per language is expensive and inflexible. Modern media organisations like the BBC or the Financial Times need a more agile approach: they must be able to react quickly to changing world events (e.g., breaking news or emerging markets), dynamically allocating their limited resources in response to external demands. Ideally, they would like to create `pop-up' services & products in previously-unsupported languages, then to scale them up or down later. The government has set the BBC a target of reaching a global audience of 500 million people by 2022, compared with today's 308 million. The only way to reach such a huge audience is through new language services and efficient production techniques. Text-to-speech - which automatically produces speech from text - offers an attractive solution to this challenge, and the BBC have identified computer assisted translation and text-to-speech as key technologies that will provide them with new ways of creating and reversioning their content across many languages. This project's objectives are to push text-to-speech technology towards "broadcast quality" computer-generated speech (i.e., good enough for the BBC to broadcast) in many languages, and to make it cheap and easy to add more languages later. We will do this by combining and extending several distinct pieces of our previous basic research on text-to-speech. We will use the latest data-driven machine learning techniques, and extend them to produce much higher quality output speech. At the same time, we will enable the possibility of human control over the speech. This will allow the user (e.g., a BBC journalist) to adjust the speech to make sure the quality and the speaking style is right for their purposes (e.g., correcting the pronunciation of a difficult word, or putting emphasis in the right place). The technology we will create for the likes of the BBC will also enable smaller companies and other organisations, state bodies, charities, and individuals to rapidly create high-quality spoken content, in whatever language or domain they are operating. We will work with other types of organisation during the project, to make sure that the technology we create has broad appeal and will be useful to a wide range of companies and individuals.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: AH/F006748/1
    Funder Contribution: 74,440 GBP
    Partners: University of Bristol, BBC

    This project will engage with the contributors to User Generated Content websites in order to understand better how they use such sites to develop their skills and knowledge. UGC sites offer a mix of opportunities to post your own work and receive comment from the community of users as well as post comments on the work of others. In some cases there are also opportunities to communicate with acknowledged experts. There is a lot of interest in this kind of activity, which is seen as a newly emerging cultural practice that has democratised media publishing. However, little research into UGC sites has yet been funded or published, so little is known about the range and depth of engagement. Early indications are that interaction around such content hosting sites might offer opportunities for contributors to learn more about creating media and develop their practical and critical skills. In order to explore this potential the BBC has developed BBC Blast, a UGC web service with a real world tour element. The resulting store of content, posts and established users provides an excellent research site to analyse the extent to which such communities of users do in fact collaborate to learn and develop their creative skills. \n\nIn order to explore the potential of sites such as Blast to support learning communities and inform BBC developments in this area University of Bristol and BBC staff have collaborated to develop the following research questions (which are further developed in the work programme):\n\nAbout users and use:\n\n- Who is posting user generated content (UGC) and what motivates them?\n- Can the dialogues that emerge within Blast actually support learning?\n- Do learning communities grow up around UGC sites like Blast / is there real interaction between users that informs and develops the work of those who post? \n\nAbout BBC Blast:\n- To what extent does the Blast offer, including Blast on Tour, meet its goals of engaging and inspiring creative learners?\n- How might the design (technical and editorial) be modified to maximise this impact?\n\nThis project would therefore seek to accomplish the following goals:\n\nAn analysis of existing interactions for evidence of learning dialogues. \nA review of the range of models of such dialogues that occur elsewhere. \nAn articulation of the ways in which the design and functionality of Blast could be developed to increase the opportunity and range of such learning dialogues.\nHistories of particular user development, tracking the journey from newbie to expert\nAn overview of the patterns of engagement with UGC sites to understand the motivations of those who post, those who see posting as an opportunity to learn and those who chose not to post. \n\nThroughout the project will be exploring a variety of ways to engage the creative, technical and editorial staff at the BBC in a dialogue about the research and its implications. We intend to use a blend of face to face and virtual strategies to maximise the range of opportuinties for knowledge exchange.\n\n

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/N013948/1
    Funder Contribution: 822,222 GBP
    Partners: Swansea University, BBC

    Mobile phone and tablet touch screens are flat, dead surfaces. Our work seeks to explore the potential of a far more fluid, 'alive' portable display. It departs radically from existing deformable research by endeavouring to provide truly direct interaction with affordances, controls and content integrated within a visual display. We will be highly ambitious and adventurous, pushing the boundaries of technical possibility and being inspired by perspectives from deformations in the animal world through a Co-I and team from biosciences. Our work will be further grounded and informed by our end-user partner, BBC R&D. The outcome will be scenarios, interaction styles and a range of fully-functional prototypes that will enable us to map out a design space to drive developments in both display materials and a richer, expressive toolkit of gestures and manipulation on touch surfaces. Consider the following scenarios that illustrate the possibilities of the new technology and user interfaces: 1. Sam is using the new paint application on her tablet. At the top of the screen is a row of paint pots that dynamically recess into the display. Each contains a colour, and the deeper she dips her paintbrush into the pot, the deeper and thicker she is able to paint onto the remaining screen surface, just as in the real world of watercolour sets. 2. Rosie is watching a BBC nature programme on her very large screen HD television set. In her hands she holds a tablet which can display companion content for the programme. While the large screen shows a butterfly dancing around a garden, her tablet screen deforms to provide a sensation of the flapping wings, indicating to Rosie that there is further content on the second screen. However, she is immersed with the main screen display and briskly pushes the deformation away to the right of the mobile. The force of her interaction is used by the system as a gauge to her interruptibility as additional second screen content becomes available. 3. Siân is producing a live music event for broadcast over iPlayer. She needs to keep her eyes and ears alive to the pace and spectacle of the band whilst catching the individual performances of each of its members. Normally a sea of controls from an array of mixing desks would surround her, rigged to control every potential shot from the camera crew on and off stage. The new flat panel touch screen mixers enable Siân to customise the controls, reducing the kit required, but without tactile feedback her attention is diverted from the action to the control surface. These micro moments of distraction can be critical and the continual switching of attention increases the stress of the job. The new deformable displays give her best of both worlds: a smaller, responsive mixing desk with tactile feedback that keeps her eyes on the performance she is broadcasting. We propose a number of transformative benefits of the novel surfaces and architectures we will construct: - The three dimensional and multimodal nature of the elements can be used to communicate features of an information space in more efficient and satisfying ways; - The surface can provide sophisticated and nuanced controls with, for instance, the extent to which the user pokes her finger or stylus into the surface adjusting the degree of system response; and, - The tangibility of the elements can enable eyes-free operation, allowing the user to combine their handheld interaction with other objects in their environment in order to deal with a complex content space. The platform can then provide physical affordances and controls, in a dynamic way, as the user interacts with the Internet of Things around them. The team combines world leading researchers with expertise in: user experience, hardware and materials innovation, electronics, design space analysis and biosciences.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: AH/F006829/1
    Funder Contribution: 74,381 GBP
    Partners: University of Salford, BBC

    The BBC's future audience is ageing. Yet older customers are less likely to exploit advanced digital services: this project will use interview and experiment to investigate why this is so. In particular, the project will consider the reasons for 'inhibited exploration' - a reduced tendency to 'try things out'. \n\nThe project will investigate two independent causes for inhibited exploration. The first relates to older viewers' diminishing intellectual capabilities, and their tendency to change behaviour so as to reduce the load on these capabilities. Exploration loads memory (so as to keep track of what has already been tried, and to distinguish things that have been tried recently from things that have been tried on another occasion). Older viewers will find these memory tasks more difficult, and may choose to avoid them, particularly if they fear reaching 'catastrophic states' of the technology / screens from which they can't return to their tried-and-tested services.\n\nMuch interface design effort has attempted to address these issues (both in BBC and elsewhere), and so it becomes important to investigate how severe and important this issue remains. It is also important to try to discover aspects of older viewers' dispositions and situations that may ameliorate the problem.\n\nThe second cause of inhibited exploration is that older viewers may find advanced services unattractive. This may appear to be a failure of programme making or service provision; however, recent work on the psychology of decision making has shown that this issue is not simple. When people choose to try a new service, or watch a new TV program, they do so on the basis of their prediction of what they will enjoy. But how are they to do this? It's easy to predict whether or not you will enjoy something that you have consumed many times, but new products are more challenging. In fact, a body of experimental work has shown systematic discrepancies between the prediction of pleasure and its actual experience. Similarly, there are notable discrepancies between pleasure measured as it happens (imagine asking someone during a TV programme how much they are enjoying it) and pleasure measured retrospectively, from memory. The relations between these predictions and measures of enjoyment are crucial for the consumption of new products, including interactive digital services. However, most work in this area has used young participants (students), so it remains unclear what particular issues are salient in the case of older populations. \n\nThe first phase of the project will use in situ interviews to explore these issues. The interviews will also target an analysis of each cause in terms the situational and dispositional parameters. Are there some older viewers who are invulnerable to the fear of exploration / and if so why? What is the role of social support? (It is well-known that social support changes many aspects of older people's behaviour and appraisals, and it seems plausible that social support will ameliorate the fear of reaching catastrophic states, or encourage the appreciation of what is to be gained from novel services.)\n\nOnce the interviews have been analysed we will have a fuller appreciation of the nature of inhibited exploration, and we will also have a set of cases or stories that illustrate its operation, and how it relates to features of services and interfaces. These case-studies will be packaged as illustrative design scenarios to capture good and bad design practice.\n\nThe understanding gained from the interviews will allow us to prioritise issues for the second phase, for experimental studies. Experiments on exploration will evaluate interface design solutions, using mockups of the solutions already designed by BBC Future Media & Technology Division. Experiments on predicted and experienced enjoyment will use new content to explore the relations among predicted, momentary and retrospective judgments of TV content.

  • Project . 2021 - 2022
    Funder: UKRI Project Code: AH/W002876/1
    Funder Contribution: 24,108 GBP
    Partners: University of Exeter, BBC

    Filming Cornwall's Red River will involve making a 30minute documentary TV film for transmission on BBC4 TV about the research findings of the AHRC ECR LF project Red River: Listening to a Polluted River (AH/S012303/1). The BBC has agreed to air the programme on BBC4 during October 2021 as part of its celebration of National Poetry Month. The BBC are a partner on the project, contributing cash and in-kind costs (although they are unable, for legal and business reasons, to state the value of air-time and other costs associated with transmissions). The programme will contain extracts from the long poem written as the practice-as-research output for the original Red River AHRC project. In the 1880s, the river was described as one of the most lucrative in the world because of the mineral wealth generated from the mine sediments carried in its water. After the collapse of mining in Cornwall in the 1990s, the mining district of Pool, Redruth and Camborne, through which the Red River flows, became one of the poorest in Europe. The impact of this shift has been dramatic and traumatic. Now, with investment flowing back into Cornwall to fund the 'ethical' extraction of rare-earth metals like lithium and cobalt, and 'enabling metals' like tin, the area is again being described as the UK's mineral 'Klondike'. This is the right moment to think about the river's past, present and future as a complex human/nature hybrid subject shaped by extractive industries, and to use the poem (and associated research) composed for the Red River project to inform a BBC4 TV documentary about the river that will foreground the issues it raises at a national level. The film will cross BBC TV's arts and nature programme genres. It will take an innovative filming approach to the small-scale, damaged and sometimes 'ugly' appearance of the river and celebrate its complexity as a neglected human/natural hybrid landform rich in culture significance, and damaged and recovering biodiversity. The film will explore questions about the future of the river and, by extension, other mistreated minor watercourses. Interviewees will be drawn from the pool of individuals who have contributed to and shaped the research project, and will include local voices as well as academics and experts. Interviews will be conducted on location at sites along the Red River to ensure the programme is local in its engagement with the detail, but of national and even global significance in terms of landscape debates around remediation and local community engagement. We will hold live regional screenings and panel discussions with our regional partners to ensure that the film reaches local audiences who do not usually access BBC4 TV, and to debate and record impact responses to the issues it raises. These events may take place at the Eden Project, Heartlands, The Cornubian Arts and Science Trust and the Environment Sustainability Centre at the Penryn Campus of Exeter University. These events form part of the existing programme of impact and engagement activities planned for the second half of 2021 as part of the Red River project. The PI will present and co-write the script with the independent ex-BBC producer Simon Willis. The scripting, organising, interviews and filming will take place over a period of approximately two months from the start date of the award. The film will greatly enhance, through creative and innovative filming, the impact of the original AHRC-funded Red River project. Project viewing figures for the programme range between 300 000 & 600 000.