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University of Ulster To Help Viewers Shape TV


Want a romantic version of Star Wars? Or your own cut of Big Brother? Ever wish you could get more news from the headlines? Or less from a documentary?

Manipulating your favourite films and programmes to make more personalised viewing is just the beginning of a £5.1 million project involving the University of Ulster.

New Media for a New Millennium (NM2) will see the development of a completely new media genre, which will allow audiences to create their own media worlds based on their specific needs or tastes. Viewers will be able to participate in storylines, manipulate plots and choose how much or how little information they want to see.

The University of Ulster is just one of 13 partners across Europe involved in the EU funded research. Dr Terry Wright, from the School of Art and Design is heading up the project at UU. He will be producing a documentary about a village in the Czech Republic. The unique difference in his production will be that the viewers can choose how much or how little information they want to see. They can even opt to see only parts of the programme that relate to specific topics such as history or art.

Dr Wright said the new genre would radically alter the role of the audience. “I am delighted that UU is one of the NM2 partners. Multimedia production techniques (such as developing ‘non-linear’ narratives) can enable viewers to personalise their viewing. They can choose the breadth, depth and sophistication that a documentary production can offer. In this context, the NM2 project will enable us to experiment with visual images and to devise innovative ways of telling the story,” said Dr Wright.

“Another exciting aspect is that NM2 not only depends upon international collaboration, but on alliances between the arts and sciences; education and industry: we shall be creating new media content in tandem with technological developments investigated by our industrial partners, such as BT and Sony.”

The documentary will be one of seven media productions that will provide the test case for the NM2 production tools. It will sit alongside a drama serial in which people can choose a variety of edited versions and an experimental production about love where the plot will be driven by text messages from the TV audience.

David Young | alfa
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