Words and the TV screen

I got to see some of the first issues of Fringe a new series developed by JJ Abrams. Fringe is a kind of 21st century X-Files, the mysteries hinge around research funded by the US department of defence (the real off-the-wall stuff that makes MK ULTRA look normal). The television programme has a very distinctive style of intro shots on location similar to the style of Sergio Leone.

Fringe location labelling

They then used CGI to impose floating three-dimensional letters  explaining the shots location. At first, this was striking but now I’ve got used to it and am ‘blind’ to the effect. Which got me thinking about ITV’s new development that allows them to insert brands and words into space on video, be it the side of a building, writing in the sky or the side of a bus.

This is extremely clever and I can understand why television companies would want to do this as their traditional advertising model has been under attack since mass adoption of the video recorder in the 1980s. If its too jarring or out of context, then audiences would turn off. If people stop noticing these adverts, they the advertising world could be accused of using subliminal messages.

That accusation would open a whole reputational can of worms that would make the recent Phorm communications debacle over privacy concerns look like a walk-in-the-park in comparison.