News Reel & Blog

Written by Jack Hopkins on 23rd May 2018

Searchlight attended the last ever Royal Television Society event to be hosted at the ITV studios, AI in Broadcasting: Added Insights and Creative Help. It was a fascinating event which explored the ways in which Artificial Intelligence could positively effect the media industries, the limitations of it and when and how it’s going to be introduced to the creative environments. Chaired by Andrew McIntosh, the Head of Television Analysis at Enders Analysis, the night consisted of micro-presentations and a Q&A panel session to round off discussions.

Ian Whitfield, the founder of Virtual AI,  kicked off proceedings with a presentation that introduced AI to the audience. He began by explaining that AI is simply the action of teaching a robot to do what humans do and that is the way it should always be - one of the main topics that flowed throughout the evening. He also summarised by explaining how the prices of AI are beginning to drop considerably in this ultra-technological age, compared to the mind-blowing costs during the 60s and 70s.

Doug Clark, Global Solution Leader of Cloud and cognitive, stepped up next and discussed the innovations that IBM are working on. Watson Video enrichment was one of these which allows a robot to translate verbal on-screen material into subtitles, cutting out time and labour. He closed by saying that Vodafone users who speak to someone on their app, are actually speaking to a robot, showing how far AI has come in terms of the humanisation of its output.

Cassian Harrison, the Channel Editor for BBC Four, and George Wright, the Head of Internet Research and Future Services concluded the presentations with an insight to how the BBC are starting to use AI. Harrison wanted to analysis the shift in trends within The UK Top 40 over the last 50 years. This subsequently showed that guitar lead songs transformed into electro, then onto disco and finally into hip-hop, annoying quite a lot of punk-enthusiasts in the process.  Wright concluded that AI should always be controlled by humans, stating quite hilariously that “if your AI isn’t controlled by a human, you’re in trouble!”

The evening was rounded off by an excellent panel session, which explained that AI is a brilliant way to save time, labour and could possibly even improve the experience for the consumer, beyond what a human could do. All of the participants of the evening concluded that AI should exist to allow humans to focus on what they can do best, performing tasks that humans can do but robots can’t.

Thanks to the RTS for orchestrating an amazing evening, to ITV for hosting us for the very last time and to the guest speakers who gave us a deep and entertaining insight into the weird and wonderful world of AI.

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Written by Jack Hopkins on 11th May 2018

On the day of Arctic Monkeys’ first album in 5 years, we thought we’d have a look at some of the greatest concept albums over the years, why they’re so significant and why they continue to stand the test of time. Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino, the fifth studio album by the Arctic Monkeys, has split fans down the middle, with some fans calling it “a recital of a Trip Advisor review” and some fans stating that it “reconfirms why they’re truly great and why we’re lucky they exist.” These conflicting, subjective opinions are why concept albums, and the stories they portray, remain to be great.

Some concept albums are greeted with critical acclaim, Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid M.A.A.D City is a superb example of this. The album sold 242,000 copies in the first week and entered the UK R&B Albums chart at number two. The album's narrative uses recollections and interludes to complete one over-arching story, making it one of the stand out hip-hop concept albums.

Some concept albums are throwbacks to previous eras, and Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs is just that. Win Butler, the band’s frontman, stated that the album is “neither a love letter to, nor an indictment of, the suburbs – it's a letter from the suburbs." Unveiling an niche style of music in an alternative makes the concept album’s release even more impactful.

Some concept albums are absolutely iconic, namely The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club. Paul McCartney had the idea to pose as an militaristic band and record an entire album that would represent a performance by the band, giving them the freedom to experiment musically – providing one of the most iconic album covers in the process.

Some concept albums are momentous, David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is one of these. Bowie had the alter-ego of Ziggy Stardust,  “a science fiction-based, theatrical, enigmatic, androgynous character.” It turns out it was just the character that he was killing off, but songs like ‘Starman’ and ‘Rock N Roll Suicide’ are still very much alive today.

The new Artic Monkeys albums is definitely a concept album that will split fans and shock neutrals, but it shows the malleability and musical capability of a band that can completely change it’s sound and continue to ignite audiences.

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Written by Jack Hopkins on 8th May 2018

Media and sport go hand in hand, exposing brands and organisations to the masses through live coverage, video games and programming. We’re going to have a look at some of the numbers that are involved in sport, how video games are becoming a sport themselves and the competitive nature of the sports media landscape.

On Saturday, Tony Bellew fought David Haye in a rematch of last year’s ‘grudge match.’ It is reported that over 600,000 pay-per-view licenses were bought for the match, contributing £7 million to the prize pot. Tickets for the event culminated to another £2.5 million which let to Bellew getting paid £2.8 million for the fight, with his defeated opponent getting paid £4.2 million. Foreign television rights also pumped money into the occasion, showing how the pinnacle of sport can be exploited to make a lot of money through pay-per-view streaming rights being sold to the highest bidder.

Football coverage is priced even higher, with Sky securing the most lucrative Premier League rights packages for £3.56 billion over a three year period, with amazon in the running for at least one of the remaining royalties. This decision to put pen to paper over these deals is a another step by Rupert Murdoch to make Sky more attractive to buyers from Disney, all but eliminating BT from the live sports coverage market. 

There’s also been a huge power shift in the digital coverage of international cricket, after talkSPORT have announced that they won the rights to England’s tours of Sri Lanka and the West Indies. Wireless Group CEO Scott Taunton said: "Winning these prestigious rights is a great victory for talkSPORT and its first-class coverage. England's overseas tours are sure to lure large audiences of fans as we cement talkSPORT's position as the fans' favourite for sporting news, analysis and live coverage. It’s a huge move by the commercial broadcaster, who have pried the rights away from the BBC after 13 years of exclusivity. 

Sports continue to grow in the video game market too, offering a different medium in which sport can be enjoyed. It’s a World Cup year and FIFA are offering a free download of their World Cup mode. It will have all 12 World Cup stadiums in Russia, all the World Cup teams and you can play with nations that failed to qualify, like the United States, Italy, the Netherlands and Chile. 

Video games themselves are also becoming live events themselves, with more and more people attending live gaming tournaments and watching online streaming  channels. A three-day professional video game tournament in Australia has just finished, with over 18,000 spectators fitting into arena to watch players compete for cash prizes.

Sport, like many other things in the media landscape, continues to adapt and transform to remain current in the ever-changing environment. It’s popularity is evidently on the rise and the various ways in which we can extract the excitement and competitive nature of sport means that it’s here to stay, even if it’s not as first-hand as it used to be.

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