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NM2 - New Media for a New Millennium

Production tools for new media genres

NM2 has created new production tools for the media industry that were meant to allow the easy production of non-linear broadband media, which can be personalized to suit the preferences of the individual user. As a result, viewers were supposed to be able to interact directly with the media and influence what they see and hear according to their personal tastes and wishes.


NM2 contributed to the strategic goals of the Lisbon summit and the eEurope Action Plan by encouraging the take-up of broadband connectivity by enabling new compelling services. NM2's contribution to this goal has been to:

  • Enable the creation of new compelling forms of new mass market media
  • Enable a reduction in the cost of cross platform media production
  • Strengthen the European production technology industry


Main innovation

NM2 expected future flexible media productions to be developed from smaller atomic pieces of media that are assembled, based on some knowledge of a user's preference, to create personalised versions of the media. To effectively tell stories through the screen, the script, the performance and the editing, all have to be right. How do we get this right AND allow for configurability? This is the fundamental challenge that our project seeked to solve.

The NM2 architecture relied on several innovative components, where research results beyond the state-of-the-art have been necessary:

  • Description of audiovisual content: rich and relevant information about the atomic media objects is needed. Both research covering the automated methods from the CBIR domain (content-based indexing and retrieval) as well as manual description facilities, based on domain-specific ontologies have been pursued. Both will be driven by a strong understanding of the likely workflows.
  • Authoring of narrative structure: practise based narrativity research, in several programme formats, led to the definition of a language for the representation of visual narratives, which allowed the definition of useful narrative structures. Producers have been provided with a visual editor that allowed new narratives to be defined.
  • Composition of new content: An engine was needed, which selects the most appropriate media objects as a way through the story according to the interaction of the engager.
  • Delivery aspects: An essential system component was a robust delivery platform, which goes beyond the traditional content streaming approach. It had to be capable of linking the realisation engine with a sufficient number of simultaneous consumers/engagers, possibly on different platforms, to enable effective trials to take place for each of the media productions. This required real-time session management, as well as the ability to reason in real-time with detailed user profiles and feedback.



The project had a quick start in September 2004. Before the detailed project work started, the multidisciplinary project team described and agreed a common basis. This has been defined particularly in the areas:


At the core of the project are the eight media productions. The first two productions, developed using existing tools ('Gods in the Sky Choice' and 'Cambridge City Symphony') were finished and evaluated early 2006. This provided valuable feedback for the next steps of the development work of the NM2 production tools. A stable first release of the NM2 production tools was released mid 2006; in September 2006 the project released an updated second version of the NM2 production tools.

Find the PRODUCTION TOOLS for Interactive Narratives - Overview of the NM2 production tools concept.

Even if the main NM2 focus is on the production side, the media has to be delivered to the end-users. The initial design of the delivery system, based on Windows Media Centre, has been agreed and described. Delivery systems for all eight NM2 productions are available at least as prototypes.

NM2's eight media productions

NM2 contains eight realistic productions to assess, verify and test the tools.

Video: Intro to NM2 methodology and CUMIS/DIGIS media productions
Cambridge City Symphony
An experimental interactive updating of the great montage-based genre of the 1920s. The production enables visitors to explore the city of Cambridge, England, at different times of day, through their own choice of topic and length. This creates associations and routes using visual means, combined with a variety of audio tracks.
Interactive Village
A reconfigurable portrait of life in the Czech village of Dolní Roven?, developing a model of interactive ethnographic movie-making for both professionals and communities. Movies are compiled dynamically to reflect engagers' choices of place and topic, made via a picture-based interface; new story-directions can be selected during playback.
Gods in the Sky Choice
An experimental interactive documentary on the science and mythology of ancient cultures, including dance and puppet drama. Using a remote control, viewers select "Sit-back Entertainment", "Education" or "Information" mode, choosing topic, depth and length, for a fresh programme at each selection. The production is based on 150 minutes of footage by WagTV, originally televised in linear form on Channel 4.
Gormenghast Explore
An experimental, spatially-organised dramatisation for interactivity of BBC TV's adaptation of Mervyn Peake's novel 'Gormenghast', which develops a new media content format. Visitors explore the 3D environment of the Castle to gain access to the stories of different characters, each freshly reconfigured at every visit.
Fortune-telling offers visitors their own personal entrance to the authentic myth world of the Vikings, enabling each interactor, through original contemporary music, video, song and story, to become the hero of their own tale. Real-time layering, oral storytelling and musical structures and techniques, combined with chance operations, make every visit unique.
MyNews and SportMyWay
A digital, interactive archive that, using the nm2 system and a graphical interface, makes it possible for engagers via broadband to discover, select and recombine news and sports items and stories according to their individual tastes.
Accidental Lovers
A participatory black comedy about love, produced for television, mobile phone and Internet. The engager can affect in real-time the unfolding drama of the unlikely romantic couple, Juulia in her sixties and Roope in his thirties.
CORDIS Wire : ShapeShiftedTV: Romance on the screen – triggered via SMS (19 December 2006)
A Golden Age
An ambitious, configurable documentary exploring the arts of the Renaissance in England, concentrating on the final two decades of Elizabeth I's rule. The engager determines the aspects of this subject which are of most interest, and the system produces in real-time a version which responds to these preferences.
More details

Administrative Details
  • NM2 (IST-2003-004124) is an Integrated Project of the European Union's 6th Framework Programme Thematic Priority 2 (Information Society Technologies).
  • It was submitted to the second call of the programme and addresses the strategic objective "Cross-media content for leisure and entertainment".
  • NM2 started on 1 September 2004 and finished on 31 August 2007.
  • The overall budget is roughly 7.5 million euro.
  • 13 partners from 8 European countries are involved in the project in different roles.
List of Participants
  • BT, UK
  • Joanneum Research, Austria
  • Goldsmiths College, UK
  • Telefónica I+D, Spain
  • Sony Netservices, Austria
  • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Media production
  • Cambridge University Moving Image Studio (CUMIS), UK
  • Illuminations Television Limited, UK
  • University of Art & Design Helsinki, Finland
  • University of Ulster, School of Art & Design, UK
  • Malmö University, Arts and Communication, Sweden
Consumer behaviour & business analysis
  • Netherlands Organisation For Applied Scientific Research - TNO, The Netherlands
  • Eurescom, Germany
Contact Persons
Administrative and financial Coordinator: Peter Stollenmayer
Email: (email removed)
Technical project management: Doug Williams
Email: (email removed)
Events in connection with NM2
  • Presentation at EWIMT 2004 , 25-26 Nov 2004
  • Presentation at international conference on Technology, Knowledge & Society in Berkeley, 18-20 Feb 2005
  • Conference paper at EUSIPCO 2005 , 4-8 Sept 2005
  • Conference paper at PCI 2005 , 11-13 Nov 2005
  • Conference paper at the AXMEDIS conference “1 st International Conference on Automated Production of Cross Media Content for Multi-channel Distribution”, 30 Nov - 2 Dec 2005, Florence, Italy
  • NM2 Seminar - Managing complex international projects - Lessons from EU project NM2, 25 January 2006, Heidelberg
  • Conference paper of 'Cambridge City Symphony' at the 'Journeys Across Media: Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference', 21 April 2006, Reading, UK
  • Presentation of 'Gods in the Sky Choice' at BBC the led conference on future of media to high profile audience of CEOS of media companies, 3 May 2006, London, UK
  • Tutorial on semantic issues at ESWC 2006 , 11-14 June 2006, Budva, Montenegro
  • Conference paper at ICME 2006 , 9-12 July 2006, Toronto, Canada
  • Conference paper at IFIP AI 2006 , 12-24 August 2006, Santiago, Chile
  • Conference paper and exhibition stand at IBC 20006, 7-12 September 2006, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Article on NM2 at IBC 2006 in Amsterdam: Shape-shifted TV ( PDF , 276KB)
  • Exhibition stand at IST 2006 , 21-23 November 2006, Helsinki, Finland
  • Presentation of 'Cambridge City Symphony' at 'Happiness, Lessons form the Arts', 22-23 November 2006, London, UK
  • Conference Poster invited paper at CVMP 'Conference on Visual Media Production' part of IET 2nd Multimedia conference, 30 November 2006, London, UK
  • NM2 had a significant presence at EuroITV 2007 in Amsterdam 23-25 May 2007:
    • NM2 papers 'Conceiving ShapeShifted TV: A Computational Language for Truly-Interactive TV' and 'Will Broadcasters Survive in the Online and Digital Domain?'.
    • One-day tutorial on ShapeShifted TV , the descriptor used for the new type of media developed in NM2.
  • NM2 software demonstrated at the 4th International Joint Workshop on Computational Creativity in London on 17-19 June 2007.
  • Four nm2 pilot productions (Gods in the Sky Choice, Cambridge City Symphony, Gormenghast Explore, and RuneCast), plus the NM2 toolkit, were demonstrated at the 27th Cambridge International Film Festival in London on 7-10 July 2007.
  • NM2 Project Director Dough Williams (BT) talks narratology, shape-shifting and Gormenghast with TelecomTV – Watch the Video - at the Broadband Content Forum Europe 2007 in Berlin on 9 October 2007.