Posts from 2007

Occasional thoughts on product and process from the Mint team

Envy and Other Sins win mobileAct

Posted in News by Andy Bell


The votes are closed. Envy and Other Sins are winners of Channel 4's mobileAct.

Phew... Everyone at Mint can breathe again. This was Channel 4's first online vote since the TV voting scandals earlier this year. We had to adhere to a super-strict set of new guidelines. We built a system capable of recording hundreds of thousands of votes a day. We've withstood penetration testing by a bunch of Channel 4 employed hackers. We've logged votes in two separate ways and securely transmitted them to an independent adjudicator at Olswang for analysis.

But this is rock'n'roll. It's about the parties. And it's great to know that Alex Zane (seen here carousing with Thomas Pomfret, VP Technology) digs our web technology.

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Crossover/DocFest winners!

Posted in News by Tim Morgan


I have just returned from the Sheffield Documentary Festival where at a glittering awards ceremony on Saturday night we scooped the Crossover Prize.

The idea entitled ‘Museums of our Future’ (then renamed ‘Tomorrow’s Today’) was the output of a week working with Diarmid Scrimshaw from Warp Films and Anna Higgs from Quark Films at the UK’s first ever Crossover Lab.

A few things that stand out for me about Crossover/DocFest:

1. I love our idea

As well as loving my team, I love our idea. It works beautifully across three platforms (TV, web and real life). We are going to work hard to bring it to a screen, laptop and event space near you soon.

Happily the idea was not spawned by some elaborate ‘let's all think about the future’ type of brainstorm. It emerged from a meeting of minds over dinner one evening. An intellectual debate ensued, a creative match emerged and, hey presto, an idea was born.

2. Creative environment

The Crossover environment was really conducive to thinking. We were literally locked up in a hotel for a week (okay, not literally). At times it was all too much but ultimately all the teams developed inspiring ideas.

3. Great people

It was a pleasure to meet loads of creative people with different skills and experiences from around the country. The mentors, commissioners and, most of all, the other participants really rocked da house.

Three things that I learnt from the experience were:

  • Go with the idea that you are passionate about. If you don’t love your own idea then nobody else will;
  • Run it past anyone who will listen. An old colleague from my accounting days had a screensaver that read “Feedback is the breakfast of champions”. Hard to apply in the world of auditing but a great maxim for devising crossover documentaries;
  • When it seems like you have hit a brick wall - keep going. Give yourself a deadline by which time you have to pitch something. Otherwise great ideas can be written off as soon as they reach the first 'this is difficult' moment.

On a more personal level, I found the whole experience quite emotional. I sometimes act like a 'cold as ice small town likely lad' (although, like many Welshmen, I burst into tears at the opening bar of a male voice choir or watching the rugby at Cardiff). At Crossover, I experienced a sense of hiraeth. Normally this feeling is reserved for Neath, Swansea and Port Talbot area but now I must add Skipton to that list. Very odd.

Marvellous memories, inspiring ideas, but most of all firm friends.

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FOWD - New York

Posted in Reflections by Tom Harman

So, I spent the last couple of days learning about 'the future' at the Future of Web Design conference in wonderful New York City. It was great fun. There were lots of interesting topics and inspiring people. Here is a brief run down:

Day 1

There were talks on a wide range of topics including designing for mobile, flash design, AJAX, finding inspiration and CSS3. My personal highlights were Ryan Singer's (37signals) talk on web usability, Ryan Sims' (Virb) and Keith Robinson's tag team approach to redesigning a site like IMDb. Also Jeffrey Kalmikoff skinnyCorp had an excellently presented chat about community-centred design.

The evening finished off with a Media Temple hosted party in the heart of NYC offering free booze and three floors of DJs. I chatted to, amongst others, Tyson an awesome designer at Virb and Keegan from The Big Noob.

Day 2

The day was made up of two workshops. In the morning Ryan Singer talked through his approach to usability for web apps. The main theme was focus on keeping the design as close to reality as possible. For instance, no lorem ipsum , keep the content real.

In the afternoon, I went to Lea Alcantara's branding workshop. This touched on many things I was already aware of from the web design sphere, but it was interesting to hear it from a branding perspective. A highlight was having to interview her as an Italian chef.

All-in-all it was an inspiring couple of days. I look forward to future events arranged by Carson Systems, along with getting back to a good round of Photoshop back in the UK.

mobileAct website

Posted in Reflections by Andy Bell

We've just launched a new version of the mobileAct website for Orange, SonyEricsson and Channel 4.

1500 bands initially applied. This was whittled down to 50 when the show started and now twelve. Bands can upload video and pictures and write blogs - building their online fan base will be crucial as the series progresses.

Watch the show on T4, 12.15 Sundays.

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The Illumina approach

Posted in Reflections by Andy Bell

I've just returned from Cross Creative in Glasgow. It was interesting to hear Andrew Chitty discuss Illumina's approach. In some areas it is quite similar to Mint, in other areas quite different.

For Empire's Children, Illumina built a map for users to submit their histories. Illumina felt it was important to bridge the gap between professional quality of TV content and amateur quality of much web content. From what Andrew showed, they did a good job of this.

When Wall to Wall saw the site, their immediate reaction was 'it would have been great if we'd had a tool like that when we were making the TV show'. Currently they are working together on a project to make that happen. That elusive 'genuinely 360 idea' edges closer.

Recently, Illumina have taken on some projects for museums. Like TV, museums group people together by shared passion. Unlike TV, museums exist in the physical world. This is interesting. Lots of the most interesting 360 ideas in advertising (e.g. Nike's RunLondon or Innocent's Fruitstock) exist mainly in the real world (and only secondarily online). I think this trend towards the real world will extend into TV cross-platform ideas. The MobileAct project we are working on for Channel 4 has a massive real-world element.

For the new Centre of Cell experience, Illumina created a website that you need to visit before and after visiting the museum. The museum itself becomes one part of a bigger experience.

For Kew Gardens, Illumina noticed there were 4 million photos on Flickr tagged 'Tree'. This shows a tremendous level of interest. Illumina's aim building the new site is to bring this conversation within the Kew site.

This half of Illumina's work is about user-generated content and the participatory web and is similar to what Mint do. The other half involves narrative and video production and is a whole different world.

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