I designed this little number as a collaboration between Blue Peter and new kids’ sport show Kickabout+. It’s an A2 poster as standard, but the four A4 sheets can also be positioned in a vertical or horizontal line, or assembled into a booklet.
I recently moved onto the Blue Peter team, working as part of their dedicated online team rather than the central CBBC Interactive team. In my first week I was asked to devise, plan and produce an online video with up-and-coming singer songwriter Hunter Hayes.
Hunter, who is kind of a big deal in North America, is in the process of breaking into the UK music industry, and to that end was releasing a reversion of his song ‘Light Me Up’ in the UK. Hunter Hayes is known for being able to play several instruments at once, and Blue Peter is famous for its improbable (if not impossible) challenges.
So the obvious course of action was to present Hunter with a mixture of unusual instruments and just plain junk, and see if he could come up with a rendition of his song. I thought he’d be good, but I had no idea he’d be THIS good…
I told a friend that I was going to the Children’s Media Conference, and he jokingly asked whether I was too old to be going to a media conference for children. But it turns out he wasn’t far off, because one of the striking things about the conference was that children really were at the centre of it. It wasn’t just about how we can make money out of children, or how we can give them what their parents think they need – there was a genuine focus on what kids want from us as content creators, and how we can serve those wants and needs more effectively. And so in that sense, it really was for children. Because despite what we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking, kids are really rather media savvy, and they have mature ideas about what they want from us.
So what is it that they want? One thing the Children’s Media Conference (CMC) really flagged up for me was the need for strong and diverse role models in children’s media. Kids want to relate to the hero – or better yet, when it comes to interactive, be the hero. In Malorie Blackman’s inspirational keynote, she said that despite reading a huge amount of books as a child and young adult, she didn’t come across a single one with a black character in until she was 21. As such, she felt like she didn’t belong, not just to the individual worlds of those books but to the world of arts and literature itself. In other words, she was affected creatively by not seeing herself reflected in the media she was consuming. Obviously Malorie has done alright for herself in spite of that, but there must be thousands of kids out there whose creativity has been stunted because they’re poorly represented in the media. Perhaps that’s why platforms like YouTube have enjoyed such ferocious growth among young people recently: a kid who is into gaming, for example, won’t find any gaming role models on terrestrial TV but they’ll find plenty on YouTube. Whether ‘role models’ is an accurate way to describe guys like PewDiePie is up for debate…
Empowering kids to be creative is still the best thing children’s media producers can do for their audience. If we give them permission to make stuff, to remix content, to interact with actors and presenters – that’s when we will see a generation that doesn’t just consume media and be satisfied with that, but instead has a real appetite for creative expression.
This has been a nice little side project over the last couple of weeks; a simple but colourful poster for CBBC fans to print out and follow the action at Brazil 2014. It was great fun to put together, and it’s lovely to know that kids all over the country (and probably some grown-ups) will be able to enjoy it.
The players at the bottom of the poster came from BBC Sport’s World Cup marketing trail. With no budget for images of real players, these were great to have. That was the main challenge I faced on this; trying to make it look amazing without a lot of time or money available.
I’ve recently been editing a series of 13 webisodes to accompany the new series of DNN, a very funny comedy show based on a fictional news channel. Each Hot Topic clip features a different character ranting about a different subject, along the lines of Peter Griffin’s ‘What Grinds My Gears’. I was going to provide an example of WGMG at this point, but couldn’t find one that would be appropriate to link to from a post about CBBC…
ANYWAY. I’m particularly proud of this one, featuring no-nonsense reporter Nellie Osmond, because I had the privilege of writing the script!