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Posts tagged television

The RTE MoJoCon Mobile TV Studio

Live from Mojocon 2017: How mobile powered RTÉ’s pop-up multi-camera TV studio in Galway, Ireland

Last week, I was working with the RTÉ team at MoJoCon in Galway, Ireland. For the event’s live-streamed interviews, RTÉ set up a multi-camera TV studio. But, being MoJoCon, there was one major twist…

MoJoCon brings together broadcasters, journalists, filmmakers and social media specialists from around the world. Now in its third year, the event explores how new technologies – from smartphones to 360-degree cameras – are revolutionising the way we tell stories on television and online.

Teradek Live Show studio at RTE MoJoCon 2017

Teradek Live Show studio at RTE MoJoCon 2017 (image: Live X)

As was appropriate for a show focusing on mobile tech and the media, the RTÉ pop-up TV studio from which we live-streamed our interviews was powered by mobile.

It’s an impressive setup: the five studio cameras were Apple iPhone 6s plus smartphones, each kitted with superb quality Zeiss ExoLens lenses mounted on a Helium Core iPhone Rig; the vision mixing and encoding was handled by Teradek Live:Air running on an Apple iPad Pro 12.9 tablet.

For day-long power and belts and braces connectivity, the devices were hard-wired to Ethernet, although a wireless setup is perfectly possible too. I would say the only non-mobile component of the studio was the sound: traditional XLR-connected lavalier mics supplied a standard mixing desk, the master output of which fed into one of the mobile devices from which the Teradek software took its audio feed.

Here’s a clip from the end of day two where my co-host, the lovely Róisín Ní Thomáin, and I embarked on a quick studio tour.

Over two days of the show, Róisín and I interviewed some inspiring broadcasters, journalists and innovators including BBC Sport’s Conor McNamara, Story-Up’s Sarah Hill and Video Journalist Michael Rosenblum. The topics we covered were as broad as How to be an App Store Millionnaire, to The Evolution of 360, VR and AR Storytelling.

Further technical stuff about mobile studio has just been posted on the Teradek website, and all of the interviews are available on demand from the RTÉ MoJoCon YouTube channel.

First look: Nintendo Switch

It’s a familiar tale: any time I once made to play Metal Gear Solid, Pro Evolution Soccer or PaRappa the Rapper has long since been eroded by the glamours of parenthood and an erratic work schedule. Mario Kart Wii still gets spun up, as much of an occasional treat for me as it is for my kids.

I am the ‘lapsed gamer’.

On-the-go Gamer

But I do still play games. Armed with my smartphone or tablet, pocket puzzlers like the stunning Monument Valley, gory graphic novel epics such as The Walking Dead or riddlers including Mr Robot help ensure that train platform dead-time can still be game-time.

I’ve yet to tire of exploring new places with Pokémon Go, and I stand firm that the Swift Playgrounds lessons are every bit as satisfying as a good Sudoku puzzle – plus I get to learn a valuable skill.

I am the ‘on-the-go gamer’. Living the smartphone gaming dream I am part of the fastest area of revenue growth in the games industry.

So, when Nintendo formally announced its latest console last Friday I wondered if it was an attempt to appeal to gamers like me.

Nintendo Switch

Will gamers make the Nintendo Switch? (image: Nintendo)

Nintendo Switch is a hybrid tablet/TV games console, as comfortable in your hands as it is hooked up to your television. Accompanying the hardware is a strong first year line-up of titles including new the Zelda Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey adventures.

Switch Coverage

But the big question is whether Nintendo has given itself enough of a fighting chance with the Switch to emerge from the shadow of the debacle that was the Wii U, to overcome the console behemoths that are Microsoft and Sony, and to take on the smartphone gaming market.

That was the topic of the story I wrote this week for Mobile World Live: “Will Nintendo fanboys make the Switch?”.

After going hands on with the Nintendo Switch at the London launch event, including playing the new fun fighting game Arms, I headed over to BBC Broadcasting House to report back for two live spots with the BBC News Channel and BBC World News:

BBC Right on the Money

Right on the Money turns commutes into cash

Right on the Money, hosted by Dom Littlewood and Denise Lewis, returns for a second season on BBC1 this summer and I’m excited to be part of the reporting team.

In Friday’s show I front a film about how make money on the move, armed with little more than a smartphone. I look at how people are using apps including Nimber, which pays you to be a courier, YouGov, which rewards you for sitting and submitting surveys, and also Bounts and Sweatcoin, which convert exercise into cash and prizes.

Here’s a quick clip from the show:

You can watch the full Right on the Money episode here (for as long as BBC iPlayer allows, that is).

Despite this appearing on screens in the height of summer, the item was filmed during the depths of winter – the shorts and t-shirt sequence in particular during a sub-zero day in High Wycombe!

Right on the Money airs on BBC1 weekdays 9.15-10am between 11th – 22nd July 2016.

What Britain buys? Dashcams.

The convergence of car tech and consumer tech is something I’ve spoken and written about in the past, so when Channel 4 asked if I’d explain more to Mary Portas in her new show What Britain Buys I was only too happy to oblige.

Mary was particularly intrigued by the emergence of the dashcam as the must-have in-car accessory for 2016. That said, she was somewhat preoccupied with what happens when the camera faces into the car rather than out front – mercifully our own carpool karaoke didn’t make it into the final cut.

As I wrote in The Metro recently, dashboard-mounted cameras are quickly becoming a must-have accessory for safety-aware, litigation-conscious drivers. Dashcams record video in the event of a bump or prang (or even a malicious key-scrape) with some insurers offering owners lower premiums to counter so-called ‘crash for cash’ and ‘flash for cash‘ scams.

What Britain Buys with Mary Portas is produced by Sundog Pictures for Channel 4.

Videogame Nation

Virtual Reality Challenge

On Challenge TV’s Videogame Nation recently I chatted with presenter Dan Maher about the challenges faced by studios when developing games for Virtual Reality platforms.

Videogame Nation is that rare thing on mainstream television: a show about video games.

Hosted by Inside Xbox co-host Dan Maher, Aoife Wilson and John Robertson, produced by Ginx TV and airing in the UK on Challenge TV, VGN celebrates games and gaming culture with a maturity and intellect that appeals to gamers and non-gamers alike.

In this week’s episode I speak with Dan about a pet subject of mine: virtual reality. We discuss the specific challenges that studios face when developing for VR platforms, and the role that mobile can play in VR’s future.

Here’s a clip from the show where Dan and I talk about the challenges, how mobile will be an invaluable on-ramp for VR, and get hands on with Kickstarter project prototype, Goblin VR.

Hardware is one of the challenges faced by developers – platform fragmentation is already real – and so is grammar: a successful VR experience is not simply a case of lifting traditional a game and dumping it into a pair of virtual reality goggles. The fact is that developers don’t know what works yet; it’s frontier-land all over again which makes VR development a very exciting – if very risky – arena for studios to be working in.

*** UPDATE: Since I wrote this story in early 2016 VGN has, after four series and much critical acclaim, used up all of its credits – much to the disillusionment of gamers all over the internet. Fear not: without too much searching you can still find pretty much every episode of Videogame Nation on YouTube.

Sex, Lies and Online Affairs

Sex, Lies and Online Affairs – Unmasking Ashley Madison

The leak of personal details from the Ashley Madison extramarital dating website is one of the significant breaches of sensitive information in the web’s history.

High-profile data leaks have outed private customer data from internet service providers, online retailers and high-tech toy manufacturers in the last few months alone. As a result, cyberattacks have been elevated from trade-press niche news to stop-the-press nine o’clock news.

Yet the Ashley Madison data-breach is different: it wasn’t just email addresses and credit card details that were liberated this time, it was data of the most personal nature. Changing your passwords after a cyberhack is a hassle; salvaging your family relationships after being publicly outed on an adulterous dating website is something infinitely more profound.

While the story was still developing in August 2015 the team from Mentorn Media got in touch to ask if I could add some context to the story for a quick-turnaround documentary they were making for Discovery Networks. Beyond the hack itself, the show sought to explore the wider impact that internet and connected technology is having on 21st century sex and relationships – it’s not often I get to talk about teledildonics and virtual reality sex on television…

The documentary aired in September 2015 in the UK and in January 2016 in Australia. Here’s a trailer:

Sex, Lies And Online Affairs | New SpecialGet an insight into how the internet is changing marriage and monogamy in the 21st century with the new special, Sex, Lies And Online Affairs, premiering on TLC this Monday at 9:30pm AEDT.

Posted by TLC Australia on Monday, 11 January 2016

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Stay classy, Ashley: image grabbed from archive.org archive of AshleyMadison.com 2008

In whichever direction your moral compass points, Ashley Madison has for a long time been a hugely popular online destination. The Ashley Madison Agency Limited launched in 2001 and, until the events of July and August 2015, welcomed almost 125 million visitors every month from over 50 countries around the world.

ITV Good Morning Britain

Hoverboard Health and Safety – ITV Good Morning Britain

Make no mistake, hoverboards have been the hot technology of 2015.

Fuelled by Back to the Future fever and celebrity spots with Jamie Foxx, Justin Bieber et al, self-balancing scooters (to give them their proper name) have proven so popular with the public that online auction site eBay reported sales of one every twelve seconds earlier in December.

On Thursday I joined the ITV Good Morning Britain team to talk through the hoverboard phenomenon and the growing safety concerns that have led retailers around the world to stop selling and start refunding.

Negotiating an obstacle course on a hoverboard in windy conditions while answering Ben Shephard’s questions live on national television? No sweat!

There are two powerful safety angles to this story:

Scoot Safely

First up, hoverboards are heavy, powerful vehicles requiring skill, balance and practice to master. Unlike a Segway – considered the hoverboard’s forebear by many – there are no handlebars here, it’s just a motorised sideways skateboard.

Like the Segway, however, it is illegal to ride hoverboards on public streets and pavements in the UK. When the Crown Prosecution Service issued a statement reinforcing this guidance in October some argued the law (derived from the Highway Act of 1835 in England and Wales) was overbearing and heavy-handed. Then, last week, a 15 year-old lost control and was killed, run over by a London bus after losing balance on a hoverboard.

Electrical Hazard

The other safety angle is the construction of the boards themselves. Leaping aboard the lucrative coat-tails of the hoverboard craze far-east manufacturers have mass produced hoverboards to lower price points with inevitable corner-cutting. Sadly, these short-cuts have been potentially lethal, with basic safety standards and common sense all but ignored. The main flashpoint has been the electronics.

One problem is that lithium-ion batteries used are notoriously unstable unless properly shielded. Major airlines are refusing to carry hoverboards in hold or checked luggage for risk of the batteries catching fire mid-flight. The other problem is that to keep costs low manufacturers are choosing to ship hoverboards with inferior quality poorly-shielded batteries, without thermal cutout circuitry or fuses in their plugs. Outcomes have included spontaneous explosions and fires and have been well-documented in various social media and the mainstream press. National Trading Standards claims to have examined thousands of self-balancing scooters at UK borders since October, with 88% (15,000) assessed to be unsafe and detained.

Eager to avoid a PR horror story major retailers have been quick to ground hoverboards, pulling stock from shelves and issuing health and safety advisories faster than you can say Great Scott. Amazon has been issuing automated refunds to customers and advising to dispose of hoverboards in WEEE approved sites.

BBC Watchdog Logo

Investigating ‘Microsoft Tech Support Scams’ for BBC Watchdog

“Hello, this is Mark, I’m calling from the Windows Technical Department. We have identified a problem with your computer…”

Have you ever received a phone call that begins like this? I have, too many times to count. The so-called ‘Microsoft Tech Support Scam’ is almost as old as the internet itself but, like a nasty virus, it refuses to go away. I’ve just filmed an investigation for the new series of BBC Watchdog to highlight the how the scam works and catch the fraudsters red-handed.

Tech Support Scam in Action

Tech Support Scam in Action (image: BBC)

Despite being plagued by these calls, I am fortunate; I know that they are almost certainly from scammers intent on stealing my money, personal details or identity. However, thousands of people do fall victim to this fraud every year with many hundreds of thousands of pounds reported stolen in the UK alone.

According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) the average victim of ‘Computer Software Service Fraud’ will be 59 years old and £210 worse off as a result of the crime, although some report losses of up to £6,000. As with many nuisance calls these criminals work on volume, and for every one hundred calls they make, if only one is successful then it will have been worthwhile.

In the past legal action against the perpetrators has proved difficult (although there have been some successes) but by showing Watchdog viewers what to look out for we hoped to raise awareness and reduce the number of victims.

We decided the best way to do this was to capture the scam in action for the cameras — a first for UK television, we think, and no mean feat given how difficult it is to track down the fraudsters. What happened next was quite intense…

Listen and share! Watchdog reveals the scare tactics scammers use to pressure us into handing over our card details.

Posted by BBC Watchdog on Thursday, 29 October 2015

You can watch the full report here.

Watchdog Scams the Tech Support Scammers broadcasts on BBC1 at 7.30pm on Thursday 29th October 2015.

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