NEWS published on 22 Jun 2017

6th Digital Storytelling Labs meeting explores innovation in entertainment and journalism

New virtual reality content, instant translation software and fake news verification tools were among the projects presented by 12 EBU Members at the 6th meeting of the Digital Storytelling Labs (DSL) at Deutsche Welle (DW) in Bonn on Tuesday 20 June.

Introducing the day, Wilfried Runde, Head of DW Innovation, highlighted the importance of the Labs as a place to find “common ground in storytelling and development within EBU Members.”

“The spirit of sharing is visible in today’s agenda,” he said.

The morning was spent showcasing the work of DW Innovation and featured new journalism tools the German broadcaster has developed since the last meeting of the DSL.

Speech.Media takes a video in one language and run it through a tool that does automated processing and translates into many languages either with subtitles or voiceover. Very useful for a broadcaster that produces content in 30 languages.

Their platform enables journalists to make sense of open government data and follow public money particularly in the areas of trade and aid.

DW Innovation has also developed a tool to battle against “fake news”. Truly.Media is a user generated content verification tool to allow newsrooms across Germany to “verify together”. The location of photos and video can be determined within the tool and cross checked on mapping software. France Télévisions have also been helping their journalists tackle fake news by creating 6 video explainers to make them more comfortable with web content.

Social media was a big focus for other Members presenting their innovative projects in Bonn.

French Belgian Member RTBF is developing their first fiction series for Snapchat entitled “Generation PLS (post like share)”. It will tell the stories of students and friends who want to enjoy life before college and is targeted at 15 to 25 year old audience. The series goes live in October. RTS in Switzerland showed their work introducing Snapchat Spectacles and how they work to viewers in Geneva.

Creating interactive and immersive experiences was key for Members present to bring audiences into the heart of big events.

SRF in Switzerland had created a virtual reality (VR) room for their coverage of the Swiss football Cup Final which takes viewers pitch side to experience the game up close. Over 11,000 used the app during the game. France Télévisions developed a VR application to cover the French Presidential election with each candidate photographed by 120 cameras which then were made into 3D figures. They also created a 360 visit of the Élysée Palace. DW is also using 360 cameras to cover the lead up to the German Federal elections later this year by collecting material at campaigns and rallies and turning the footage into short stories.

Innovation in personalization was also showcased at the meeting with several Members showing how they are using chatbots to help guide audiences whether it is towards their content such as RTS’ programme guide that suggests what to watch or alerts when favourite shows are on, or SRF’s tool to help voters make up their minds in Switzerland’s many referenda. 

VRT in Belgium is exploring a new car app to provide a safe and seamless audio storytelling experience to car drivers and passengers that optimizes listening time while SR in Sweden are looking at “atomising” news in an app that splits up radio content to allow listeners to decide what they want to hear, skip or hear more about particular stories.

What was clear from all the Members present is that innovating doesn’t come easy with much trial and error and experimentation in order to create new products that will have a wide impact.

The Digital Storytelling Labs meeting also heard from Robert Amlung Head of Digital Strategy at Germany’s ZDF chair of Implementing Open Innovation (IOI) - a strategic programme jointly run by the EBU Technology and Innovation department and the Eurovision Academy.

IOI looks at how an organisation encourages ideas and innovative approaches and how these are eventually applied in mainstream production to better serve digital audiences. The group has visited 12 Members since 2012 to see what they are working on and to offer a loose peer review.

The meeting was also shown the new Eurovision Showcase platform which can be used by Members to share New Digital Formats – with sub galleries to categorise the content. Right now these are New projects from the labs, VR content, Short form factual formats and Media literacy.

The EBU’s Head of Digital Ezra Eeman concluded the day saying the future focus of the Labs will be on projects which we want to explore together on a particular topic.

The 6th Digital Storytelling Labs meeting took place alongside the Global Media Forum where hundreds of media professionals gathered from around the world.

Addressing the event under the theme of “identity and diversity", Peter Limburg, CEO of DW, underlined the importance of public service media as a reliable source of correct information to citizens.