How UK media are facing future challenges

Published 20.11.2019
Earlier this month, a delegation from the Norwegian Media Cluster went to Cardiff and London to meet with several media and tech companies, including BBC, Amplyfi, ITV, as well as leading academic institutions.

Through the membership in the Media Cluster, member companies are given the chance to join study tours with NCE Media. This time, the destinations were Cardiff and London, with the purpose being to learn how U.K. media and tech companies are facing the industry challenges of tomorrow, to experience new and innovative technology and also for the attendees to network and spend time with their cluster colleagues. The trip also included visits to leading academic institutions in both cities, where the group were introduced to new research and cross-over projects between academia and industry.

Scroll down for a short summary of the visits:

The first visit was to 4Pi Productions' CULTVR lab in Cardiff, an immersive research lab for presentation of digital arts, live performance, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Janire Nájera (Creative Director), Matt Wright (Artistic Director) and Chris McFall (Film maker) gave the group an extensive tour of the premises, including a 360° experience in an impressive full dome cinema, and a live demo of a virtual backlot system.

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CULTVR / 4Pi Productions: The group were treated to a full dome experience with 360° video, shot in Northern Norway.

CULTVR / 4Pi Productions: Filmmaker Chris McFall demonstrating a virtual backlot system to the group.

The School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) at the University of Cardiff is at the forefront of exciting new developments in journalism, media and communications. The school has strong links to the industry, with the new BBC Wales headquarters located close by. 

The group met with Elliot Pill (Director of International Development, JOMEC), who introduced Professor Justin Lewis and Sara Pepper from Clwstwr, the Creative Cardiff Cluster, an ambitious five-year programme to create new products, services and experiences for screen. Clwstwr is built on South Wales' success in making creative content by putting research and development (R&D) at the core of production. The purpose is to create a culture of innovation in the cluster which will move the screen sector from a position of strength to one of leadership, internationally. 

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Professor Justin Lewis, Director of the Creative Cardiff Cluster. 

Sara Pepper (Director of Creative Economy) presenting the Creative Cardiff Cluster.

BBC Wales' new headquarters
The BBC are currently doing a massive relocation project in Cardiff, and our group got an exclusive sneak peak into the new building, which is amongst the most technologically advanced broadcasting centers in Europe. It is the first BBC Centre in the UK to use Internet Protocol (IP) technology for controlling cameras, TV editing and output. The building is also designed to be BBC's most open and accessible.

BBC's Brian Davidge (Head of projects), Hugh Hallam (Senior Technical Architect) and their colleagues led a tour of the impressive venue, providing technological, architectural and organizational insights to the visiting group. 

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The new BBC Wales HQ in Cardiff. 

One of the studios at BBC Wales HQ. 

Hugh Hallam (Senior Technical Architect) and colleagues giving a presentation on how BBC Wales will use IP technology in broadcast.  

ITV as an integrated producer broadcaster, creates, owns and distributes high-quality content on multiple platforms globally. ITV also continue to diversify their business through the opportunities presented from consumers’ willingness to pay for great content and to engage with ITV as a trusted brand.

Ian Cottrell (Director of Channel Operations) gave the background story on ITV, as well as sharing details on the channel's new strategy. The channel have restructured to face the competition from other commercial TV companies, and Cottrell explained how the channel have worked to renew their operation in terms of content production, advertising, use of data, and by utilizing the power of artificial intelligence. ITV has also recently released a new streaming service, BritBox, together with the BBC. 

ITV: Ian Cottrell (Director of Channel Operations) provided insight into ITV's story, as well as their strategy going forward. 

Synthesia delivers AI-driven video production and can generate new, professionally looking video without the need for any cameras or hardware. The solution enables video translation without the creative casualty of dubbing or subtitling. Utilizing AI to synchronize the lip movements of an actor to a new dialogue track the result is a seamless experience for the viewer. The group got an in-depth presentation and demos from Steffen Tjerrild (COO, CFO & Co-Founder), emphasizing how AI can impact the way we produce videos in the future.

Earlier this year, NRK Beta tested the technology on Dagsrevyen anchor Yama Wolasmal - and the result is equally impressive as it is scary: 

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Synthesia: Steffen Tjerrild (COO, CFO, & Co-Founder) explaining the concepts of AI driven video production. 

AMPLYFI has instigated a paradigm shift in organisations' abilities to unlock the internet – going far beneath its surface to harness its vast, untapped information resources. AMPLYFI’s purpose is to fundamentally transform organisations’ decision making, business intelligence and research capabilities by enabling them to unlock the internet for themselves. Amplyfi has developed their own set of tools and algorithms that lets the end-user dive deeper than what's possible through existing search engines today.

DataVoyant™, AMPLYFI's flagship product, is the world’s first business intelligence tool to seamlessly combine surface and deep web harvesting, artificial intelligence, and intuitive data visualisations within a single, integrated platform. Users self-drive DataVoyant™ to enable smarter, faster decisions. 

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Amplyfi: Rony Seamons (COO) demonstrating Amplyfi's tools, which have the capabilities of harnessing massive amounts of information from the deep web. 

Outernet Global
A massive construction project in central London, the Outernet experience brings together the epic scale of 360 degree 8K floor-to-ceiling screens with the world’s greatest storytellers and information providers. Commuters, local communities and tourists will enjoy a new experience every day as Outernet is refreshed by a carousel of broadcasters, video artists, news sources, advertisers and live events. 

"We’re building the largest capacity entertainment venue in London since the 1940s with the highest resolution screens of anywhere in the world”, said Philip O’Ferrall, President and CEO, Outernet Global. 

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Outernet Global: Philip O’Ferrall, (President and CEO) shared details on the ambitious Outernet project in central London. 

StoryFutures (Royal Holloway University of London) 
StoryFutures is all about placing innovative storytelling at the heart of next generation immersive technologies and experiences, to fuel the growth of the sector and ensure the UK is leading the way. StoryFutures is led by Royal Holloway, University of London and is part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s unprecedented Creative Industries Clusters Programme. Funded by the government’s industrial strategy challenge fund and based in the ‘Gateway Cluster’ immediately to the west of London it is focused on delivering game changing R&D projects.

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StoryFutures: Angela Chan (PhD) gave a presentation on creative clustering and shared how they are working with industry partners in their cluster.

StoryFutures: Professor John Ellis presented a general overview of the StoryFutures programme.

StoryFutures: Åste Amundsen (PhD) recently joined the project and brings a wealth of experience in interactive theatre, immersive storytelling and technology driven personalised audience experience.