Directors' blog

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‘Mash this!’ whispers Aunty Beeb

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Chances are, you won’t have heard of R&D TV. As the name suggests, this is an experimental new programming format from the BBC where footage is supplied with the intention that you and I won’t just consume, but we will take the opportunity to create too.

As it says on the site: “The clips are raw straight from our cameras and although this may be too much for most people, it makes great footage for those who want to remix and mashup our footage with there (sic) own or others.”

Trouble is, only one such mashup has so far taken place despite worldwide access and awareness of the initiative is very limited.

Is this just early days for something ahead of the curve , or is the mighty institution smothering its fledgling participatory offering before it can get out of the nursery?

The crowd at last night’s Social Media Cafe in Manchester were in no doubt it was the latter, provoking a lively debate with the BBC’s Ian Forrester (AKA @cubicgarden).

Why couldn’t the BBC promote the new programmes through established programmes such as Click? Why wasn’t it available in iPlayer? Will it ever be shown on BBC2 – or even 3?

(As a personal aside – just look at the URL http://ftp.kw.bbc.co.uk/backstage/index.whtml, hard to think of anything less user friendly).

Ian was able to explain many of the issues around licensing which make it difficult for R&D TV – soundtracks with music under copyright to artists for example, couldn’t be just handed out for further publication and distribution.

Fair enough points but, as several members of the audience pointed out, surely there’s content which is wholly BBC produced which could be offered up – or even specifically commissioned – if a true collaboration is going to take place?

I was left thinking that probably the highest hurdle this  brave project faces is an organisational mindset one – let’s hope that doesn’t take too long or become too distracting and good luck to Ian in pushing this on.

There’s no doubt that, while those internal bickerings take place, creative mashups will continue without any regard to licensing issues, hurt egos or approval from Aunty Beeb.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxi6QDwQyLU]

* There’s an audioBoo of reaction to the talk here.

* A FriendFeed commentary I did during the session with Ian can be seen here.

Written by sarahhartley

June 3rd, 2009 at 8:25 am

5 Responses to '‘Mash this!’ whispers Aunty Beeb'

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  1. [...] Full post at this link… [...]

  2. We covered this in April, just to reassure you that it is getting some covvy! Second episode out soon…
    ;-)

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2009/apr/09/bbc-research

    Jemima Kiss

    3 Jun 09 at 11:27 am

  3. yeah, Ian did mention last night it had been in the Guardian. Thanks for the link.

    sarahhartley

    3 Jun 09 at 11:37 am

  4. [...] ‘Mash this!’ whispers Aunty Beeb « Sarah HartleySarah identifies that, once again, people are more complicated than technologies: "Chances are, you won’t have heard of R&D TV.As the name suggests, this is an experimental new programming format from the BBC where footage is supplied with the intention that you and I won’t just consume, but we will take the opportunity to create too. [...] I was left thinking that probably the highest hurdle this brave project faces is an organisational mindset one – let’s hope that doesn’t take too long or become too distracting and good luck to Ian in pushing this on." (bbc mashups management ) [...]

  5. Hi FoodieSarah,

    So to clear up some of those points which you may have missed during the debate at #smc_mcr, it was hot and I was dying for a drink.

    R&D TV is created by BBC R&D and BBC RAD, both are setup to push the boundaries of whats possible with technology. This is a research project and not part of the usual editorial/production output of the BBC. Hence no iplayer or part of click. One of its main purposes is sharing and remixing, as we talked about before people will always do remixes but this is totally legal way to remix content.

    Its also quite a niche show, its not meant to be on BBC 2 or 3. Its a much longer tail approach. Hence people at #smc_mcr may find this stuff interesting and turn out to be some of our remixers in the future. Its also not about high production, we choose off the shelf equipment and used software which most can download or buy cheaply. The message is you can do it yourself and we’re giving you a helping hand to go about doing that.

    We choose to start from zero to totally cover ourselves with a cc-by-nc licence. Remember the example I gave of the BBC orchestra where the conductor was on a part time contract. We wanted to avoid those all together and be 100% sure what we’re putting is out is correct and legal.

    Happy to talk about it with you next time or sometime soon?
    Theres more info here – http://www.cubicgarden.com/blojsom/blog/cubicgarden/media/2009/06/03/R-D-TV-Episode-2.html

    Ian Forrester

    4 Jun 09 at 5:46 pm

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