Saturday Night Takeaway Gets Virtual Interactive Audience | New

ITV’s return of Saturday Night Takeaway came with a number of technical challenges, including how to authentically recreate the kind of atmosphere the show previously had with a live studio audience.

Like other live shows performed on lockdown, the only real alternative was to go virtual. But it’s the scale, ambition, and functionality of Saturday Night Takeaway’s virtual interactive audience that sets it apart from the rest.

The series attracted a “world first” virtual interactive audience, created by graphics technology partners Kinetic Pixel, by leveraging The Famous Group’s Virtual Seat video calling platform.

Craig Hann, Managing Director of Kinetic Pixel, said: “The system is designed to allow live shows to benefit from a live virtual audience while allowing seamless interactivity between hosts and audience.

Understandably, this works well for lockdown, but Kinetic Pixel and Hypothesis Media (which provide the platform on a number of projects with Kinetic Pixel) believe the system will continue to be of value once lockout restrictions are relaxed.

Tom Bowers of Hypothesis Media said, “This is a scalable broadcast production solution for interactive audiences and live show contributors – in the future. [it is capable of] unleash the reality of exciting new show formats and business opportunities for program creators, broadcasters and event planners.

The virtual interactive audience system provides:

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• Personalized 3D virtual audience animations

• Scalable virtual audience size (from 2 to 1,000+)

• Minimum broadcast latency

• Two-way interaction – video and audio (“hot Seating” by selected audience members / contributors for enlarged visuals and interaction with hosts)

• Gamification options (the public can participate in interactive votes, polls, answers to questions which will give instant feedback by changing the orientation of the video tiles, etc.)

• Complete audience moderation capabilities

• Allocation of virtual VIP / Contributor seats if necessary

• Marketing of virtual audience members during the experience with the by-products of the show, sponsorship and premium options of meeting and hosting after the show.

• Full integration of live studio production

• Fully scalable for editorial and commercial gain


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Perry A. Thomasson