Future Media Broadcasting 

September 2022 - March 2023
Funded by AHRC via XR Stories, York University
with Eleanor Dare and X||dinary Stories

This project explores what children aged 7-11 think is the future of broadcasting. It sits alongside two other workpackages, one that looks at younger children and another at teenagers and forms part of a body of work being undertaken by XR Stories.More about the other two projects can be found here.

The project explores what children aged 7-11 think is the future of broadcasting. This is being acheived by running a series of public engagement activities for groups of children at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford. Here, we offer children the opportunity to explore their ideas on the future of broadcast media in relation to a series of new technologies such photogrammetry, Cardboard VR (age appropriate) and proto-metaverse platforms. Participants are given the opportunity to explore these technologies through a series of hands-on art and design-based research methods.

The intention of these workshops is to seek an understanding of children's ideas for how they would like to consume future TV content. It builds on the decline of children watching linear TV and the planned closing of CBBC in 2025/6. In relation to this, we introduce children to a range of new technologies and seek their ideas for other ways in which they might like to engage with TV content. There is a two-prong focus on engagement via immersion (i.e. VR) and via interaction (e.g. proto-metaverse like mass online gaming platforms).

Research Aims & Questions

• To undertake public engagement activities on the topic of future media broadcast
• To explore how children aged 7-11 years-old would like to consume heritage brands through interactive media and, or new technologies

Research Questions:
1. What are the elements most important to 7-11-year-olds when changing heritage media into interactive media?
2. What are the elements most important to 7-11-year-olds when changing heritage media to immersive media?
3. To what extent do emerging technologies, such as photogrammatry, augmented and virtual reality used in future media broadcasting engage children? 
4. What aspects of consuming broadcast media through immersive media is engaging/ disengaging for children?
5. What aspects of consuming broadcast media through interactive media is engaging/ disengaging for children?

Public Engagement Workshops 

The public engagement workshops used the Beano as a case study. The long history of the Beano made it an interesting choice for considering how the format of the stories have changed over time in relation to different platforms for their dissemination, and then to see how children think this might change in the future. 

Public Engagement Workshop 1 & 2: Character Creation 

The first two workshops focused on changing characters from the heritage brand, the Beano into future broadcasting prototypes using photogrammetry.

Children who attended the public engagement workshops were given a range of cultural probes. These are a collection of visual and physical materials that act as a prompt to engage non-design specialist participants in design processes (see images below). Specifically, for Workshops 1 & 2 children were provided with a range of stories and characters from the Beano and asked to create models using Play-Doh or LEGO of those they would like to form part of a virtual world.  

In terms of research, the children's creations were scanned using a photogrammetry app and also photographed. Children who consented to take part in the research were informally interviewed about what they had created and why in order to collect dialogue on their decision-making processes.

Introducing participants to photogrammetry was also seen as offering insight into emerging tools for storytelling that could form part of future broadcast media. 

Public Engagement Workshops 3 & 4: Worldbuilding
The third and fourth workshops focus on the creation of buildings and objects for a virtual Beano Town. Using the same cultural probes as were used for the first two workshops, participants will be asked to create buildings they wish to remain in the future broadcasting of the Beano from cardboard boxes or update with entirely new ideas of their own based on their image of what Beano Town might look like in the future. There is also the option of creating objects needed in the town from Play-Doh. 

Testing the methodology, creating Minnie the Minnx’s house

After creating a building or object participants are asked to  place them in a circle so they can be filmed in 360 and then viewed in virtual reality. 

Image: research prompt for workshop participants 

By including techniques such as world-building in online gaming spaces, photogrammetry and software such as Blender in our data collection workshops, we are introducing children in Bradford to a range of techniques commonly used by adults in the design and production of new forms of storytelling media.

Developing Future Broadcast Prototypes 

As mentioned above we scanned models made by children to produce 3D assets of children’s work during the public engagement workshops. We then used these in the development of future broadcast prototypes.

Images by Eleanor Dare

The intention was to produce prototypes of content that use a range of emerging technologies and to consider the role of both interaction and immersion, seperately and combined. For example, I added the models made by workshop participants to the interactive online gaming platform, Roblox. 

Images by Dylan Yamada-Rice

Eleanor on the other hand animated children’s models so that they form part of an augmented reality experience:

Image by Eleanor Dare

Or allow children to dance with their creations in Virtual Reality:

Image by Eleanor Dare

Testing Future Broadcast Prototypes

The final two workshops will look to test children’s reactions to prototype future broadcast media made by Eleanor and myself (see above). Details of these sessions are to follow.