Alhurra TV’s Creative Services Team, 2019 winner
In 2018, Alhurra witnessed its largest transformation in its 14-year history, overhauling the channel with a completely new look and feel as well as redeveloping content for the channel’s relaunch. Although many people worked tirelessly on this effort, MBN’s Creative Services team stands out for the extensive impact of their contributions on the success of the relaunch. After several months of planning and thousands of hours of hard, relentless work and dedication by a brilliant team of graphic designers, scriptwriters, and promotion producers, the channel introduced one of the most innovative, crisp, and contemporary visual styles seen anywhere on Arab television.
The team’s complete reinvention of how news stories are visually told allowed Alhurra’s compelling reporting and courageous journalism to shine and standout in a saturated marketplace. The new look and message of Alhurra was pioneered by Fadi Izzidin, Alhurra’s Director of Creative Services, and his team who exemplify the highest levels of dedication to modernization in broadcasting and great integrity in their dedication to Alhurra’s mission.
Most notably, the team implemented the most advanced broadcast technology, augmented reality. Augmented reality entails the use of cutting edge, real-time 3D graphics to combine real-time data visualization and live virtual sets into a seamless mixed-reality broadcasting experience for viewers. They also had to instruct the news department on how to implement the technology, that would allow them an innovative new way to produce and visualize reports. Alhurra’s augmented reality allows viewers in the Middle East and North Africa see an immersive three-dimensional presentation of an image appearing in the broadcast studio. As a result of the Creative Services team’s great efforts, Alhurra reporting on complex topics of vital interest to its viewers, such as the importance of democracy and human rights, is even more accessible and readily understood.
With resilience in the face of multiple challenges, Creative Services team accelerated the implementation of the new augmented reality system having it up and running in only six months, including hours of extensive tests and trials and a grueling 24/7 schedule leading up to the channel’s launch. The team produced innovative news segments with gripping augmented
reality graphics although they were operating on a slimmed down technical platform with a third of the processing power typically specified and despite increasing editorial demands. In one example, an augmented reality video of the U.S. midterm elections was used to clearly convey complicated data and bring alive the U.S. political process. Alhurra used a virtual video wall with highly informative, data-driven content and displaying various other immersive graphics, such as animated maps, comments from social media, and real-time live election results from all locations. Dynamic 3D AR sets visualized the congressional seats up for grabs and how election results can shift the balance of power in the U.S. political system. In another example, Alhurra used AR to clearly explain the unique and advanced capabilities of the F 35 to MENA viewers conveying the impressive magnitude of U.S. technological advancement.
Irrespective of the many technical and logistical challenges, the Creative Services team transcended the usual television experience to deliver something more immersive that allows viewers to imagine they are physically present for the report.
Alhurra’s Creative Services team also produced profoundly thought-provoking and brave promos that challenge viewers — with carefully selected words, images, and music — to contemplate the importance of democratic values and civil liberties, including women’s rights and gender parity; freedom of press; freedom of conscience; freedom of speech; and religious freedom–topics often unaddressed by Arabic-language media outlets across the region.
As an additional contribution to innovatively transforming Alhurra, the team in collaboration with the Digital team were able to implement an innovative idea that broadcasts news bulletins simultaneously on TV and social media platforms for access by smart phones. A first in the Arab media, this allows there to be simultaneous portrait and landscape screens showing the anchor, headlines and images relevant to the report. This allows the broadcast to fill the viewers entire screen on their phone, opposed to having a smaller horizontal image where it is difficult to see details. By implementing this change, MBN provides the digital viewer a much better experience without compromising the television broadcast, as well as real time comments from internet viewers, creating an organically layered and adaptive layout that effectively combines the television and internet mediums.
Other television outlets have been able to create a 9:16 (mobile) video in post-production, but never live while on the air. In fact, the creator of the video and graphics hardware and software package asked MBN to brief them on their developments, so they can share it with their other clients.
The team’s integrity was evident in their dedication and faithfulness to the mission. Due to their skillful interpersonal communications with other departments to help Alhurra, the channel’s
relaunch was well-coordinated and allowed Alhurra to advance its goal of providing accurate and reliable news and information with a high level of editorial precision. In this way, the team ensured that the relaunch of Alhurra, with the team’s stunning visuals and gripping promos, brought the networks’ courageous stories to its audience with maximum impact; therefore, we nominate them for the David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award.