Design for television

David’s reference to 18 points as the minimum size equates to 18 pixels if you are coming from a web background.

On some iTV projects I have pushed the type down to 16 pixels, but be very careful about colours and contrast, and enquire about the production path to air: if the work is going to be transferred via DV tape, squeezed through an old composite link, or online-edited with high compression, then you might want to leave type as large as possible.

In some cases such as using white text on a red background you can add a very subtle black shadow to the type, which will help stop colour bleed and crawling effects. Even if you dislike drop-shadow effects, it will still look flat and lovely on a broadcast monitor.

Safe areas need to be taken with a pinch of salt. The default safe areas in most editing and compositing software date from years ago before the widespread use of modern, widescreen televisions.

Try extending the safe area for non-essential text in interactive projects, and consult broadcaster guidelines for their widescreen policies: many channels now broadcast in 14:9 to terrestrial boxes, and offer options to satellite and cable viewers.

The largest problem is that widescreen viewers often crop the top and bottom of the image by setting their TV to crop 4:3 to 16:9. Some cable/satellite companies remove the left and right of the image to crop 16:9 to 4:3 for non-widescreen viewers, leaving us only a tiny, safe rectangle in the centre of the image to work with.

Robert Bradbrook (maker of Home Road Movies) has a some technical but excellent information on designing graphics for 16:9 television and film formats, including a sample safe area.

There are also excellent documents on picture standards from the BBC.

But this is one thing I don’t understand: according to the BBC: “Additional [20 or 26 horizontal] pixels are not taken into account when calculating the aspect ratio, but without them images transferred between systems will not be the correct shape.” Can anyone confirm that this is the case for PAL images?

Media theory books

Posted on Sep 12, 2002 in Media, Reading, Technology

The Language of New Media

Lev Manovich.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

On the Internet: Thinking in Action

Hubert Dreyfus.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World

Lawrence Lessig.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Hackers

Paul Taylor.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com An extraordinary insight into hacker culture – academically rigorous but very readable and entertaining.

Affective Computing

Rosalind W. Picard.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Abstracting Craft

Malcolm McCullough.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Being Digital

Nicholas Negroponte.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Interface Culture

Steven Johnson.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Electronic Culture

Timothy Druckery.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History

Manuel de Landa.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

War in the Age of Intelligent Machines

Manuel de Landa.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Media Equation

Bryon Reeves, Clifford Nass.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

If/Then Play

Janet Abrams.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Narrative books

Posted on May 15, 2002 in Art, Film, Media, Narrative, Reading, Research, Television

Hamlet on the Holodeck

Janet H Murray.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Pause & Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative

Mark Stephen Meadows.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Computers As Theatre

Brenda Laurel.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Joseph Campbell.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Interactive Acting: Acting, Improvisation, and Interacting for Audience Participatory Theatre

Jeff Wirth.
amazon.com

Tell Me a Story: Narrative and Intelligence

by Roger C. Schank, Gary Saul Morson.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Understanding Comics

Scott McCloud.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Comics & Sequential Art

Will Eisner.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Graphic Storytelling & Visual Narrative

Will Eisner.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Honeysphere collaborative storytelling platform

Posted on Feb 1, 2000 in Art, Interaction design, Media, Narrative, Social, Television

In 1999 a team of six (including myself and “Jack Schulze”:http://www.jackschulze.co.uk) won the London Institute Award for Innovation for a collaboration around narrative and interactive television. We researched existing web-based projects dealing with community, gaming, multi-user space, and interactive narrative.

The project aquired an extensive archive of research material and proposed a number of design patterns that could be used for future development of collaborative television software.

We presented our findings to the public at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2000.

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