Bright Lights, Media City!

Monday 17 December 2012
One Show tree

When the BBC needed 50 volunteers to produce a high-tech Christmas tree on The One Show, they didn’t have far to go – in fact just next door to us at the University of Salford!

The University put out an urgent call for students from the College of Arts & Social Sciences to help take part in the interactive tree, which the BBC were producing using the latest technology. Dozens of students from the performance, media and music directorates responded with enthusiasm.

They were given lights of various colours and choreographed to either draw the outline of a tree in green by walking a set route in the MediaCityUK Piazza or stand in place and be a red bauble or a white snowflake. A camera on the roof of one of the BBC buildings captured the images and cutting-edge software transformed them into a sparkling tree. The spectacular virtual Christmas Tree was then broadcast as part of The One Show’s Christmas special.

The technology replicates the effect of a long exposure photograph but in real time so that lights leave a trail in the air as they move. This means you can “draw” shapes in the air with lights. It was used earlier this year in The Little Sun installation at The Tate Modern.

Getting hold of the volunteers was co-ordinated by Careers & Employability at Student Life and staff from the school directorates, who work regularly with the BBC on work placements and other opportunities.

"The BBC leads the world in the quality of its programme making and its developments in interactive television. Working with them at the experimental stage of new broadcast forms gives our students the rare opportunity to have first experience of what we can all expect to see in the future,” said Mary Oliver, Director, Performance Research Centre, School of Arts and Media.