Utilising User Generated Content

Photo (C) Metro
Here’s a fantastic example of using user-generated content to make a really interesting looking TV spot for BBC Radio 1’s Teen Awards. It’s a simple idea – but executed really nicely.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

There’s a little more background on the Earshot Creative review blog here.

I think there are huge opportunities for making great sounding, highly effective promos and imaging using this method. There are countless examples online of contests where bands have let fans download elements from their songs to create alternative mixes. There are also examples of online games where fans can “create” their own programme trails – like this one for the BBC’s Doctor Who from a few series back.

So – how about someone publishing some imaging elements online and giving their listeners the chance to create the idents for the station. Just imagine the creative treats that might emerge.

Torchwood – The Lost Files

Image (C) BBC

Having been a Torchwood fan since the series first started (as a spin off from the BBC’s long running Doctor Who), I’m really looking forward to the new series which starts this week.

Before the last series – Children of Earth BBC Radio 4 commissioned a couple of radio plays to bridge the gap between the series. They have done it again with a 3 story run of Torchwood: The Lost Files. The series is running this week in the Afternoon Play slot in BBC Radio 4. And they’ve handily made all 3 stories available as downloads.

I listened to the first file – “The Devil and Miss Carew” this morning on my commute in to work. It’s all standard Torchwood stuff – though the “alien” seems to be called Fitzroy – and seems to live within the Radio 4 Shipping Forecast (played by Radio 4 drama stalwart Martin Jarvis).

If you’ve never listened to a radio drama, this could be your ideal stepping off point. It’s nicely acted, pretty close to the feel of the Tv series, and has fun performances from the main Torchwood cast.

You can download it here

And the new TV series starts this Thursday night (July 14th) on BBC 1

Expect the Unexpected

Turn on a TV drama like Doctor Who and turn off the sound. Does it change the viewing experience?

This afternoon I went to free talk at the Royal College of Music hosted by Matthew Sweet – focusing on the work of Doctor Who’s sound effects editor Paul Jeffries and dubbing mixer Tim Ricketts. And these aren’t people who merely add some sound effects and random music to the pictures. They provide an integral part of defining the pace of the narrative, the mood of a scene, and the intensity of the drama.

Being someone who works entirely in radio, the sound element of TV shows has always fascinated me. But working in radio promotions, it amazes me how often the sound mix is a mere afterthought. For dramas like Doctor Who, this is clearly not the case.

They revealed some pretty amazing facts. Like how the sound of Davros’s claws was 5 coins taped on someone’s hand whilst tapping a Le Crueset lid. Or how one alien sound was merely the sound of a squirrel barking. And if you counted the number of separate cyberman sounds in the most recent episode – it was in excess of 25,000 sound cues! (slightly dubious if this is exact number – failed to write it down – but was a lot – honest!).

Tonight, a few thousand people will enjoy some of the experience of the music that adds so much to a programme like this – live in the Albert Hall – as the National Orchestra of Wales play selections of Murray Gold’s musical scores.

But next time you watch, close your eyes and listen to the sounds that enhance the drama. You’ll be amazed what you hear!

Who’s Getting Disruptive?

Do you recognise this sound then…?



I heard this fantastic bit of “disruptive” audio this morning during the Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1. This was produced by BBC Radio X-Trails – a team I’m shortly joining as a producer – and is a great example of doing things a little differently from the normal. It is, in effect, a teaser trail, for the new series of Doctor Who which starts this Saturday night on BBC1. However – the premise for this is effectively that the Doctor has crashed his TARDIS into the radio station – works out where he is – andsays stuff that points towards the new series – without giving a direct call to action.

What makes this effective is the fact that the “break in” to programming is fairly obvious – and that the TARDIS sound occurs fairly early on – making it effectively a “sonic trigger”. Promotion for the new Doctor Who series is all over the media at the moment – from Youtube to the BBC Website – and with the new Doctor appearing on shows such as Friday Night With Jonathan Ross and the likes – this is a clever way to build audio into the mix. My guess is that more traditional trails with a specific call to action will follow.

And have you ever heard a DJ interrupted mid-link before? Takes a bit of preparation beforehand – but sounds quite clever too!

So how could you make this sort of thing  work on your station? Get thinking…

[All audio (c) BBC. We acknowledge all rights held by the owners, creators and performers of the recorded works which are included solely for the purpose of review].