Monthly Archives: May 2014

Breaking the Fourth Wall At Sheffield Doc/Fest

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DocFestLogoGreat news! I’ll be taking part in a panel session at Sheffield Doc/Fest this year!

Back in 2012 we showed Renga there – which went down so well we added an extra show at very short notice. Definitely one of the most enjoyable film festivals I’ve been to. Just because it has ‘Doc’ in the title doesn’t mean that it focuses purely on Documentaries! The Crossover and interactive elements make it one of the most relevant conferences to anyone working in digital media.

I’ll be joining the panel:

Breaking the Fourth Wall: Audience Participation in the Digital Age

With changing expectations from audience’s of how they experience their entertainment, and pushes in what technologies allow audiences to take part in stories, entertainment will fundamentally understand who we are, who we are with and how we feel when we experience entertainment in the future. This panel looks at how audiences could take part in stories today from live, cinema theatre to children to horror, what technologies are available today for audiences to take part (from looking at the audience’s facial expressions, heart rate to tablets) and what opportunities that brings for content producers to deliver new types of entertainment. Curious minds are welcome.

Two of the panelists I know from previous conferences together and am very much looking forward to sharing the stage with them.  The incredibly insightful Julian McRea, Portal Entertainment, & the always lovely and entertaining Gawain Morrison, Sensum.

I’m very intrigued to find out more about Choose Your Own Documentary – lots very positive feedback across the web. I’m hoping to make one of the two performances on while I’m in Sheffield. Will be interesting to compare notes with Sam Smail, CYOD, as they face many similar problems to those that Renga faces.

Can’t wait! Come and join us all on Monday 9th June from 13.15-14.45 in the Millennium Gallery

Category: Uncategorized

Brumpic – Twitter photos on Touch Table

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Photos always work fantastically well on large touch tables.  They are natural for even a novice to handle, can be moved, expanded and generally just passed around.  With the right content conversations between users comes automatically.

However there are two problems with this – curating the content in the first-place and secondly ensuring the content remains fresh.  I’ve thought for a long time that you could solve both these problems if you connected to an existing ‘stream’ of photos – something like ColorizedHistory on Reddit or HistoryInPics on twitter.  That was why I was delighted to meet @BeThirtySix who runs Birmingham’s very own BrumPic twitter account:

Tweeting pictures past and present of Birmingham and surrounding areas.

Every day BrumPic posts new content from Birmingham’s varied history for its followers on twitter.  It already creates interesting discussion via social media – so surely it will work just as well in the flesh.  Actually, I already know that photos of buildings generate fantastic discussion.  An early touch table project developed for The Worcester Hive has a folder of black and white photos from Worcester’s Highstreet.  They instantly conjure up memories of the visitors and are a fantastic catalyst for conversation.

The prototype version – scans the Brumpic twitter account for posts with photos from the last few days.  It downloads the hi-res version and tries to make sense of the 160 characters posted with it to create an image title.  These photos (with titles) are then displayed on the touch table, scattered around the edge of the table and a few random ones chosen for the centre.


This project is an excellent way to share the same photo content with a different audience.  Coupled with the fact it’s much easier to see this images at much larger sizes, as opposed to mobile phones and tablets.

This version is updated daily with content from Brumpic – but future versions could take content live from the feed.  This could be extended so that anyone could live tweet the table with new ‘user-generated’ content.

It may be that this application is successful just as a twitter photo viewer, but it would be useful to explore how this functionality could be extended.  Initial thoughts are that we could allow visitors to select their top images, create their own collages, tag the photos or add their own photos and comments.

We’ll be trialing this prototype version at the Library of Birmingham on their Discovery Floor on Friday 30th May between 2pm and 4pm.  If you’re in the area – pop by and have a play.

Category: My Projects

Agent in a Box (Working Title)

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“Agent in a Box” (AiaB) is a project I’m working on with Katie Day of The Other Way Works and Alyson Fielding of Pyuda.  It can be thought of as a prequel to Black Tonic, an existing Interactive Theatre Experience developed in 2008 by The Other Way Works.

It was originally envisioned as a single player, time-limited experience for the intended audience of a business traveler, trapped in a hotel away from home.  As an alternative to watching hotel-room TV or replying to emails – why not take on your alter ego of a spy for an hour?

Backstory & Objective

The story of AiaB pre-dates Black Tonic.  During this show, Lena, a hotel maid observes the actions of a Fukuenya (a private detective who specialises in breaking-up relationships).  The reason that Lena recognises these actions is that a Fukuenya had previously destroyed her relationship.  AiaB tells this story of Lena’s relationship break-up.

The player takes on the role of Sam Watson, a newly recruited Fukuenya, who is providing support to Anna, an agent in the field.  Sam will use her detective and investigation skills to assist in breaking-up the relationship between Lena and her partner Charles.

Anna has managed to arrange dinner with the target ‘Charles Hollingberry’. The player will be supplying information to Anna throughout this dinner. Anna will secretly sms the player, sneak off to the bathroom to call in, and on occasions leave her phone ‘open’ so that the player can listen in to the dinner conversation.


When the player arrives to check-in at the hotel the receptionist informs them that a package has arrived for them. Back in the privacy of their hotel room, the player will begin to unpack their ‘box of tricks’ – black magic chocolates with a hidden compartment containing a mobile ‘feature’ phone, a secret identity, notes about the ‘obstacle Lena’ and the target ‘Charles’, phone numbers of other characters etc. The player will use this information in order to carry out a number of secret-agent tasks including finding ‘dark secrets’ from Lena’s past to share. The player will dial into Lena’s mailbox, hack into her email account, and spy on conversations with her friends. All of this from the relative safety from their hotel room!


From the players point-of-view the game takes place entirely in the hotel room. This is the only real / physical world location. There are however numerous virtual / imaginary locations in the game.  The player will only communicate with these virtual spaces via their feature phone. At no point will the player leave the safety of the hotel room.

To help explain the concept we have created a short trailer with the help of the very creative Chris Keenan and fantastic acting talent of Jill Dowse.  I’ll add a link to this just as soon as the final version is complete.

I’ll write up some more notes from our development shortly – talking about the technology behind all of this and about our recent performances at PILOT Sites.

Category: My Projects