R&D TV: Episode 1

So finally its been revealed what I've been working on recently.

R&D TV is a pilot project between BBC Backstage (which is part of BBC R&D) and BBC RAD Labs. The pilot is monthly technology programme made up of interviews from knowledgeable BBC developers, BBC project experts and experts from around the world. Its made of rights cleared assets so sharing of content is a core part of its concept from day one. When I say experts, I don't even mean in the traditional sense but more people doing interesting things which there very knowledgeable about.

There are three parts to the project,

  1. A brief 5 minute video, containing all the very best bits
  2. A longer 30 minute video, containing deeper conversations
  3. The Asset Bundle, containing everything we used and didn't use to make the videos above

They say good artists borrow and the best steal. Well you can think of what we have done as a combination of PBS's NerdTV and Microsoft's Channel9. The biggest difference is the asset bundle.

Releasing the assets as well as the 5min and 30min versions is something that's new for the BBC and to be fair both teams are not well known for. I mean R&D and Rad are not content creation departments. However we truly believe this is a exciting and possibly important experiment in creating media specifically to be shared and remixed.

Not only does the asset bundle include media but it also has all the extra media to create the show and stuff which didn't make it into the show. So you can duplicate the show or with a little more creativity do some remixing and show – legally.

We (me and George Wright) did a interview with Jemima Kiss of the Guardian on Wednesday. There's a couple of corrections like the project is half RAD and half Backstage plus Rain Ashford works for backstage and Hemmy Cho works for RAD. But otherwise Jemima does a good explaining the project and some of the thoughts behind it. I kind of wished we recorded the interview but who knows what might appear in the asset bundle one day soon.

Videos can also be viewed on YouTube and Blip.TV right now but expect even more places in the next few weeks. We created a ATOM/XML podcast file so you can suck down all the files in one go using a podcatcher. Hell we even did the MD5 hashes to confirm the files are correct if you get them from elsewhere.

One of the things which I believe will happen very quickly at the start at least is people asking us to interview certain people. We will take a lot of this on board but what I really want to see is people filming themselves and using our footage and combining it with there own. I already have looked into mixing MakerTV with our footage to create a more hardware driven show. Or even taking parts of the Socialweb.TV and using some of the Kevin Rose interview. The best part of all this is, you can all do the same! One thing I've been dying to do is combine Pop!tech footage with ours, because they also put there shows out under a creative commons licence.

There's more to come from R&D TV so look out for number 2 about May time. Looking forward to hearing all your thoughts.

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Ashley Highfield on iPlayer, DRM and Crossplatform Support

From the Backstage Blog, a frank discussion about DRM and Cross-platform support. It all started when I asked Ashley a few questions recently about the iplayer strategy. Ashley answered the question with quite a bit of passion and Matthew Cashmore thought hey wouldn't it be a good idea to get some of that passion in a recording. He is the result which you can judge for yourselves…

The iPlayer, no don't do a runner, seriously, it's taken over the mailing list, dominated our discussions and is something that many members of the backstage community care an awful lot about. So do we. We all know the questions. Why don't we stand up to the rights holders? Why do we insist on using DRM? Why did we sign a secret deal in blood with Microsoft?

So we finally decided that these questions needed answers, and the only person to talk to was the boss. We present 26 minutes of questions and answers about iPlayer, DRM and cross platform support with Ashley Highfield, Director Future Media & Technology.

In this frank discussion we cover the DRM issues, explain that iPlayer isn't a Microsoft only party and ask why didn't we use a non propriety solution.

You can get the file directly from Blip.TV under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence in Mpeg3, Ogg Vorbis or AAC.

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