We witnessed the biggest switch in British politics this century unfolding on our television screens last week.
ITN, with Jonathan Dimbleby in tow, challenged the BBC campaign by attacking the screen via the further advances in microchip wizardry in the form of “virtual” graphics.
ITN’s virtual segments centred around link presenter Alistair Stewart. One of his big moments was to walk between the now-famous green benches of the House of Commons as they filled with real members. Other virtual highlights in the package consisted of bar charts rising from the studio floor in party colours, also a wraparound winner’s banner – in red, of course – which whizzed around the top of the studio gantry.
A computer network updated the studio graphics on a large portrait screen set high behind Dimbleby’s head. He was seen interacting with his computer (which looked second-hand) by pressing touch panels on the screen. The swingometer graphics were back-projected on to a horizontal screen which showed the “battleground” graphics.
Three separate rounded panels reading “election 97” with individual party colours featured constantly, and acted as the programme identity. They also featured in the opening sequence, and very uninspiring they were.
Typography was plain and the usual use of type with a coloured wash of rainbow colours within was as dynamic as it got. Title overlays and keyed information were imposed over treated backgrounds with still-store live action picture inserts. This completed the ITN election livery.
The studio set, however, did at least have a solid foundation and visual value, with a passing reference to the Richard Rogers school of architecture. Whether intentional or not, I do not know.
Although these big news events are information-driven and not design-driven, I still fail to see why a more creative and style driven approach could not be adopted. Perhaps Neville Brody could be asked to pep up the next ITN election graphics package.