Case study: Blast Theory SMS Drama Ivy4Evr


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Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture: Digital Day (Brighton)

Case study: Trial episode of SMS Drama Ivy4Evr commissioned by Channel 4 Education
Julianne Pierce, Executive Producer, Blast Theory

On 7 June 2011 Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) announced a new £500,000 Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture, for projects that harness digital technologies to connect with wider audiences and explore new ways of working. Project proposals will focus on six key ares: six areas: user-generated content and social media; distribution; mobile, location and games; data; resources; and education and learning. The Digital days aim to: - encourage new partnerships and collaborations between arts and cultural organisations and technology companies - inform participant about opportunities of using digital technologies - provide information on the Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture.

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  • Text made smaller
  • Stories are parables/metaphors: they simplify and encode Blast Theory’s work is focused on how events and dialogues might offer alternatives to stories
  • To reach up to 250,000 people
  • To reach up to 250,000 people
  • 44 drafts
  • 44 drafts
  • Players have to respond to a stub to launch a ladder Players have to respond to every ladder message to get the next one 121 msgs in total; 43 of which are story. Balance btw leading conversations and having open conversations Balance btw stories and ladders: ladders have to be about relationships and non-time specific but stories are tightly structured, focused on events and make no account of the participant
  • NB: this is hardly a story; there’s very little narrative progression. It has all the redundancy and informality of a conversation. Caitlin signs every message She uses a slightly relaxed version of standard spelling and grammar, no txtspk.
  • Also important to make creative use of this ambiguity: potential to surprise productive uncertainty – ‘where does this end?’ ‘who is emailing me?’ ‘how far does my relationship with this character extend?’
  • Built by Talkweb in Brighton
  • Another example: on Music ladder, on the 12 th rung there was a response rate of 95%.
  • Global listeners to deal with insults Constant testing: as in a game
  • Case study: Blast Theory SMS Drama Ivy4Evr

    1. 1. Julianne Pierce, Executive Producer, Blast Theory Case study: Trial episode of SMS Drama Ivy4Evr commissioned by Channel 4 Education
    2. 2. Blast Theory <ul><li>Julianne Pierce </li></ul><ul><li>Case study: Trial episode of SMS Drama Ivy4Evr commissioned by Channel 4 Education </li></ul><ul><li>Digital Day, Brighton, 10 th August </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>@blasttheory </li></ul>
    3. 3. Blast Theory <ul><li>A group of artists based in Brighton, UK led by Matt Adams, Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanitj </li></ul><ul><li>Formed in London in 1991 </li></ul><ul><li>In 2006 relocated to Portslade, Brighton and re-developed a former warehouse into studios and a permanent base for the company </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborating with the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham since 1997 </li></ul>
    4. 4. <ul><li>The company creates highly participatory experiences for audiences across performance, site-specific projects and gallery installations </li></ul><ul><li>The company has received several BAFTA nominations and a slate of awards for its work with performance and computer game technology </li></ul>Can You See Me Now?, 2003
    5. 5. <ul><li>Interactive, mobile and location based technologies are central to the work of Blast Theory – utilising online, hand-held devices, wi-fi, GPS </li></ul><ul><li>Our recent focus is on ‘interactive narratives’ constructed around audio recordings, SMS (text message) and voice calls </li></ul>Day Of The Figurines, 2006
    6. 6. Rider Spoke, 2007
    7. 8. A Machine To See With, 2010
    8. 10. Blast Theory and broadcasting <ul><li>Long term ambition to make a work with a broadcaster </li></ul><ul><li>Convergence offers us the opportunity to apply our expertise in interactive media to emerging broadcast platforms </li></ul><ul><li>Access to new audiences </li></ul><ul><li>Creative and technical challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Business development </li></ul><ul><li>New revenue stream </li></ul><ul><li>New contacts and networks </li></ul>
    9. 11. Ivy4Evr <ul><li>An interactive SMS drama Commissioned </li></ul><ul><li>by Channel 4 Education in 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>To engage teenagers on issues of sex and </li></ul><ul><li>drugs </li></ul><ul><li>Each episode is 7 days long </li></ul><ul><li>Participants sign up at </li></ul>
    10. 12. Ivy4Evr <ul><li>Written by the fantastic Tony White author of the acclaimed novel Foxy-T </li></ul><ul><li>Aimed at 14-17 year olds </li></ul><ul><li>The episode starts on a Sunday with Ivy on a train. Her sister – Lilsis – has posted a photo of a used condom on Facebook and tagged Ivy and her ex-boyfriend Degs. Ashamed, Ivy goes to stay with her mate Adz for a few days. As she settles down on Adz’s sofa Ivy admits that her period is late. </li></ul>
    11. 13. Ivy4Evr Register mobile number and email address on the Ivy4Evr website Participants begin to receive messages from Ivy – ranging From quick updates about the minutiae of her life right at that moment, to pleas for help with her dilemmas about friends versus family, college and band commitments Participants text back advice and chat to Ivy at any time during the 7-day period
    12. 14. Ivy4Evr The central narrative runs through each seven-day episode There are a number of themes that you can explore with Ivy in detail if you choose - music, family and pregnancy As these conversations build, the messages become more personal and intimate, with each participant able to decide how far the conversation will go
    13. 15. <ul><li>Hey C, **personal question** </li></ul><ul><li>Q. know someone who missed their period? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Erm, ii dont think i have......but i’ve seen stuff on the television about it. Not the same i know, Cx </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sorry to be nosy. Your lucky. I can’t talk to my </li></ul><ul><li>parents about stuff like this though, can you? </li></ul><ul><li>Its okay. Well i could, but i don’t think i could? Cx </li></ul><ul><li>Really?!? Your lucky then. Always thought </li></ul><ul><li>I would of told Lilsis about something like this. </li></ul><ul><li>Yeahh...but i’d be scared to how they would react. </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes you have to make hard decisions in life, </li></ul><ul><li>bad or good. Cx </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t really trust her now. Adz said IF I am </li></ul><ul><li>do I know who the father would be? </li></ul><ul><li>Q. Whats he take me for??? </li></ul><ul><li>Maybe he’s just worried for you.? People say things that they think sounds good, </li></ul><ul><li>or supportive but the intent comes out wrong? </li></ul><ul><li>When they’re worried. Cx </li></ul><ul><li>He’s looking out for me I know. Sorry if I’m </li></ul><ul><li>being boring. For some reason I feel like I can </li></ul><ul><li>talk to you about it... Do you mind? </li></ul><ul><li>No, not at all, i’m happy to help. Cx </li></ul>Caitlin 513
    14. 16. Creative development <ul><li>Why use SMS? </li></ul><ul><li>The ultimate native platform for teenagers </li></ul><ul><li>Intimate: it mingles with your existing friends </li></ul><ul><li>One to one </li></ul><ul><li>Quick: fits teenage lifestyles </li></ul><ul><li>Short : good for interaction design </li></ul><ul><li>Persistent </li></ul><ul><li>Quasi anonymous </li></ul><ul><li>Cheap (SMS included in standard packages) </li></ul><ul><li>Developing the story </li></ul><ul><li>Conducted focus groups with young people to </li></ul><ul><li>feedback on story development and text ‘language’ </li></ul><ul><li>Very iterative process based on feedback </li></ul><ul><li>C4 provide advice and sign-off on script </li></ul>
    15. 17. Marketing <ul><ul><li>Challenge for Blast Theory as a new audience for us </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developed marketing strategy with Holler (Skins) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Created Ivy Facebook fanpage and Twitter identity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promoted through T4, literary blogs, youth zines and teen sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Our target for the trial 1,000 participants – reached 800 </li></ul></ul>
    16. 18. Technical development <ul><li>Customised SMS platform developed by Talk Web, Brighton in close collaboration with Blast Theory </li></ul><ul><li>Approx 6 months development with continual testing in lead up to live trial for 800 participants in October 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Platform enables statistical and data analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Blast Theory owns the IP in the platform to ensure future development of SMS projects </li></ul>
    17. 19. Amount of Engagement
    18. 20. Depth of Engagement <ul><li>“ Sorry hun, what if I am pregnant tho – what the fuck would I do?” </li></ul><ul><li>Get by I suppose, you've got to do what you've got to do. You're going to have to choose if you want it or not, and you might later think whatever you chose was a mistake, but at the time it was what you wanted and you're just going to have to remember that whatever you decide. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>What the fuck does anybody do? You look at the options, face the facts n deal with what ya gotta deal with. There's a shitload of support out there. Yer mum she someone who,like,listens? </li></ul>Hepzibah 412 Rob 584
    19. 21. Business development <ul><li>Developed internal capacity for Blast Theory in </li></ul><ul><li>Negotiating IP and rights management </li></ul><ul><li>Data protection regulations </li></ul><ul><li>Risk management </li></ul><ul><li>Project management </li></ul><ul><li>Adding value to the organisation through technology R&D and innovation </li></ul>
    20. 22. Learning/issues <ul><ul><li>Legals and contracting with Channel 4 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>U tilising SMS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data protection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Young people and privacy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Marketing and reach </li></ul><ul><li>Work with specialists with knowledge and expertise at reaching young people </li></ul><ul><li>Ethical issues </li></ul><ul><li>How do you invite intimate exchanges about sex and drugs without crossing the boundary? </li></ul><ul><li>Issues of trust – the blurring of Ivy as a fictional and ‘real’ character that invites a level of intimacy from the audience </li></ul>
    21. 23. Outcomes <ul><li>Reached our target audience with proven depth of engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Blast Theory now a Channel 4 preferred supplier </li></ul><ul><li>Successfully trialed new technology platform </li></ul><ul><li>Developed new IP for the company </li></ul><ul><li>Potential for the platform to be licensed to other cultural or commercial companies </li></ul><ul><li>Full commission of full Ivy4Evr 6 episode series ???? </li></ul>
    22. 24. Blast Theory <ul><li>Julianne Pierce, Executive Producer </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>@blasttheory </li></ul>