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Designing for the Big Screen

At Screach we have a dedicated Product Team; designers and developers who create the on-screen animated, live and interactive content for ScreachTV.

Dave Potts heads up the team. Here’s some insight from him on Screach’s approach to designing for the big screen.

Our inspiration

We spend a hell of a lot of time in pubs, and we can see that conventional broadcast solutions suck – when a pub isn’t showing live sport, it’s normally just the news with the sound off. We see that the current broadcast model is broken for venues, so many of our ideas come from trying to fix this. We’re also data junkies, so when we come across a cool data stream, we love to experiment with visualising it on the screen.

The Challenges

Television in a bar is not watched in the same way as conventional television in the home, but you’ll notice that the current broadcast in both settings is still exactly the same. This makes no sense to us; few people go to a bar to watch television, and the on-screen content just becomes background visual noise, often with illegible text; it’s designed to be watched up-close in the quiet of your living room, not in a noisy social surrounding. On top of all of that, bars usually have the sound off on their TVs, so not only can viewers not read the content on it, they can’t hear it either. Not exactly the best user experience, is it?

Our challenge is to change this media format into something useful for venues, and interesting to customers, making the television in a venue relevant again. Viewers are accustomed to looking at broadcast content, so our biggest challenge is creating something new and appealing which isn’t jarring to the viewer. It has to be visually stimulating to cut through everything else that’s going on in the venue. It must function without audio too, and text must be completely legible, even from the back of the bar.

The process

The creation process starts with getting the team members together who will work on the project. We sit and thrash out possible solutions, and it’s a great feeling getting excited about the prospect of creating something new and game-changing. Our product team is a talented bunch of smarty-pants; they’re designers first and foremost, but they’re also code ninjas and are just as comfortable when developing software solutions. Most of our ScreachTV products have lots of moving parts, so we develop and design features in tandem. Before testing, we go over every aspect of the project with a fine-tooth comb to make sure the visuals for on-screen and in-phone are complementary, and that the software just works. At this point we do internal testing coupled with live trials in customer control groups, before rolling out to our nationwide customers.

What’s Next

The product team moves fast. We are working on a brand refresh across the whole platform that we hope everyone will love, it’s to keep the advert templates and interactive games feeling new. We also have some cool new television channels coming that we can’t wait to release. And in my work stream right now, I’m building some cool tech for smartphones that will change the way users play games in venue. I can’t say any more than that for the moment!

Dispatches app shortlisted by One World Media

 

A few months ago, the Dispatches second screen app made it to the final of the British Journalism Awards.

The Guardian’s Reading the Riots project won the Innovation of the Year award that time around, but news reaches us that the second screen app has been shortlisted for a digital media award at the One World Media awards 2013.

A Screachy Christmas Story

It’s closing in on Christmas. You know what that means.

Tinsel. Presents. The same eight songs again and again. Festive drinks and nuclear hangovers. And, of course, that special moment when companies get all wistful and start reminiscing about all they’ve done in the last 12 months.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.

story

What we learned about second screen from a national TV pilot

People say second screen is an awesome opportunity. Some even say it’s the future. But there’s no handbook out there on how to do it right.

This year, we developed a second-screen app for popular documentary show Dispatches as part of a 26-episode pilot with Channel 4 and production company Standing Stone. It was an interesting experience, and was even nominated for a British  Journalism Award.

Here are a few of the things we learned from the experience.

A day at AdMonsters Screens

It’s always good to try and do something a little different on a Monday morning, so we kicked off our week with a trip to London for the AdMonsters Screens conference.

The nice folk at AdMonsters invited us to put together a panel during their morning session. Screach founder Paul Rawlings joined Mike Hemmings of Amscreen and Rob Edwards of Bauer Media to discuss interesting ways to use screens to engage with consumers.

You are here: Why “Social, Local, Mobile” rocks

 

They call it “social, local, mobile” (or SoLoMo if they’re really trying to annoy you).

It’s an important concept that technology companies and brands should be thinking about, and if you’re not doing it, you’ll be left behind.

Hang on…

This sounds like high school all over again. And, y’know what, the world didn’t end because I didn’t wear skinny jeans or a pork pie hat when it was fashionable.

What’s in store for Screach?

Screach co-founders Paul Rawlings and Sam Morton

If you’ve already downloaded Screach, you’ll notice we’ve got an update out. It’s all leading up to a major revamp of the app in the next couple of months, but it’s an interesting indication of where we’re headed…

Over the last 18 months, Screach has evolved. We’ve had a name change (for those of you who remember us as Screenreach Interactive), we’ve added a New York office, and we’re a bigger team than when we first emerged from the Difference Engine startup accelerator in 2010.

Screach at IBC 2012

Our CEO Paul Rawlings spent the early part of this week in Amsterdam, soaking up the atmosphere at IBC 2012. IBC is a great spot to pick up the latest chatter about electronic media and entertainment, and Paul was invited to be part of a panel on the evolution and the future of second screen.

During the conference, he bumped into The Next Web’s Martin Bryant, who’s been following Screach from its early days.

Once Paul got back to Newcastle, we grilled him a little about what he’d seen and heard at the conference, and had a bit of a chat of our own about second screen and where it might be headed.

Can second screen make a difference?

Can second screen make it easier for users to act on issues that inspire them? (Illustration by Catherine Kasas)

In a slightly longer post than usual, we explore how second screen experiences might help people to act on issues and causes that inspire them (featuring special guest Lee Duddell of Newcastle online usability testing company WhatUsersDo)

At some point today, your TV will show you something that will make you cry, make you think, or make you angry.

Can second screen help you to do something about it?

The promise of second screen is that, if you’re interested in a programme, you can learn more and discuss issues in an environment that’s umbilically linked to the show. But once you’ve built that interest up, is it acceptable to just leave users to hack through the forest of Google links to find a way to speak out or get involved?