Halo Channel . 2014

343 INDUSTRIES .  INTERACTIVE TELEVISION . December 2012 TO December 2014

A JOURNEY BEGINS

  

Half an exercise in network TV branding. Half an exercise in application development.

 

Download The Halo Channel on Windows 8.

In early 2013 the idea of the second screen viewing experience was buzzing.  The Xbox One was becoming solidified as an all-in-one entertainment device and my charter was to extend the television viewing experience in a meaningful way.  

Smart TV's and apps that try to extend television do not create compelling, reusable, experiences.  It's a disposable gimmick that forces interaction, forces choice, forces an understanding of the destination and neglects to take interest in you and your preferences.  If we had any north star it was the failures of other TV-extending applications and the promise to get our fans where they want to go without distracting their experience.  

In late 2012, I began charting the course for what would become the Halo Channel by writing a document that would serve as the blueprint for a larger experience.  Much of the content on this page are excerpts and imagery from these guiding blueprints.  

CVP/Studio Manager:  Bonnie Ross
Executive Producer: Kiki Wolfkill
Group Program Manager: CJ Saretto
Creative Director: Dan Chosich
Development Manager: Sandra Lemon
Director of Programming:  Tina Summerford
Experience Design Lead:  Tony Hau
User Experience Designer:  Mike Gerhardt
Visual & Motion Design Lead:  Chris Abbas
Visual & Motion Designer:  Eric Dies
Test Lead:  Mark Gehan

Official Site  .  Full Credits
 

The Halo Channel

The only Halo entertainment channel that turns traditional television into an active medium, passively suggesting, persistently adapting and ever connecting fans new and old across devices who want to experience the evolution of entertainment in a marketplace that demands its own terms. 

QUESTIONS ARISE

  • How do you help someone escape into a world with ease?  
  • What if TV championed your accomplishments?
  • What if the television graphics you've grown up watching became interactive?  

CHART YOUR COURSE 

Our charter, no matter what, was to create something useful -- something additive.   We have a franchise that people love.  We will have content that people clamor to view.  The question becomes, ‘how do you create a meaningful interactive platform?”  The answer: give them more of what they love.  Give them content that matters.  Give them knowledge.  Give them validation.  Make it intuitive.  Familiar.  Do all of that and they’ll come.  Make it beautiful and they’ll stay. 

We are a franchise that embraces our fans. We tailor our content to their feedback. We don’t believe our own hype, we are never satisfied, we know the world isn’t static and waiting for us. This is a modern environment where we have to be open.  We have to be transparent and genuine with our fans.  This is a platform to entertain and connect the world with a unifying moment.  We’ll give you the tools, we’ll make it malleable, they’ll chart their course and the channel will do its best to keep in step.


ACTIVE TELEVISION

No longer does TV disconnect the viewer and their voice. This is a conversation instead of a broadcast. This is democratic television that begs for your opinion and adapts appropriately. This is personal TV and you are navigator to chart your own level of involvement.

USER-CENTRIC

Table any preconceived notions you have iTV. This is an application for escapism, connection, and validation.  We must be constantly focused on making this a richer experience for the user.  The user must be at the center of everything we do. 

SOULFUL

The Halo Channel must have a soul that espouses the best of the brand. We are an aspirational brand because our stories and actions elevate the user to the hero of their own experience. These are their own crafted journey’s as much as they are our own. We must speak to the basic universal messages that align with the brand and imbue details that imply a greater intelligence. 

FOCUSED

The interface is a touch-point, not a destination. The user should not feel like their attention is being absolutely split between the content and the interface. 


Channel BRANDING TONE

ESPOUSE THE BEST WITHIN US + REDISCOVER THE FEELING OF INFINITE POSSIBILITY

And in the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.

And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.
— Albert Camus. The Stranger.

“...no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” 


AssetS IN DIVERSITY

First iteration of a NEXT ON branding moment.

We are in a unique position as a franchise to have content that speaks to struggles of a hero on a distant planet, right next to the comedic tales of red and blue Spartans in a canyon outpost, right beside a national championship for the best of the best. 

These stories are multi-faceted and these struggles are not merely man versus nature. These stories resonate deeper, they are calls for companionship, comradeship, acclaim, freedom, patience, and understanding. They are stories about man versus themselves, man versus man, man versus society, and man trying to understand their place in the universe. 

Halo allows you to dream. It allows you to wonder beyond. With each release the narrative is guiding the fiction of characters, plots and events. But Halo is about the stories in-between. Halo is a lot about what you are doing when you are not playing Halo. It’s about dreaming of cresting a hill that seems out of scope. It’s about getting your friends together, sharing a bond, and escaping daily life. It’s a common place to dream, laugh, compete, and be the hero of your own experience. 

This is how our genres were formed because it is more than a game. It’s a sandbox for expression and in that sandbox there are no limits to how you play and it is in that wonder where creativity thrives. 

OUR FRONTIER HAS NOT VANISHED. OUR FRONTIER IS FOREVER WITHIN US. 

Americans... are forever searching for love in forms it never takes, in places it can never be. It must have something to do with the vanished frontier.
— Kurt Vonnegut. Cat's Cradle.

Early Version

EARLY Thoughts

SIMPLICITY ABOVE. A WORLD BELOW.

  • Simplicity Above:  Only want to watch Halo content?  We'll get out of the way. 
  • A World Below:  Users who want to delve into Halo content. We give you a toolbox. 
  • One Choice Yields Reward:  The moment a user makes a choice, the journey begins. 
Our Purpose

This document was constructed to speak to many diciplines. It’s a process document for how we foundationally look at our future experiences, who are customers are, what we offer them, how we can support their dreams, and how we can become a better type of entertainment.

The Channel alone is a branding exercise in experience, UX and visual design, but it is also a branding exercise in storytelling. The moments between shows shape perception. The craftsmanship in the details shape quality. The way we capture imagination will be our legacy. We have to create those positive emotions that immediately elevate us to something worthwhile, something marquee.

By remembering what makes us great, by demanding an experience that we ourselves would consistently want to participate in and by unhindering the user to experience this world, we will make something great.
— Dan Chosich . Halo Channel Branding Guide

Early Learnings

Gradual Change

What we quickly learned through testing is that you cannot force too much experience too quickly.  If you are trying to change the way people fundamentally watch TV you have to do it in a way that is digestible and calls upon actions and tropes that they are already familiar with.  

MEANINGFUL REWARDS

This was my hypothesis:  If you spend X minutes watching the channel we will give you Y reward to use in Z.  The problem is that the variable X (time) is not seen as a task or something limited.  You need to rework the equation and make X an action:  If you play Halo Mission X the channel will give you reward Y to use in Z.  People want to work for their reward and feel as though their reward is meaningful because they accomplished a task with some varying level of challenge.  

First iteration of a TONIGHT ON passive schedule.  


TOUCHPOINT DESIGN

The Halo Channel had to be light.  It needs to load quickly and be elegant.  As a designer this meant we had to make something pretty but content agnostic.  The content itself would be a major factor of the design.  Therefore we used a lot of design philosophy from print magazines and print layout.  Large typography.  Rich color.  Full bleed images.  

 

"...DESIGN PHILOSOPHY FROM PRINT MAGAZINES AND PRINT LAYOUT."

Early version of the application snapped while playing Halo.

Design Principals

  • Color:  Use color to make the channel an inviting place to go. 

  • Motion:  Use shapes that suggest motion and add personality. 

  • Scale:  Elements go off screen and suggest that the world is larger. 

  • Talent:  Use marquee talent to give the channel a human resonance. 

  • Less:  Make the experience cinematic. Try to get down to the simplest form. 

Early version of the FEATURE PRESENTATION screen.

Design Tenants

  • Considerate: Always consider how the user feels using it or watching it. The cause and effect for user interactions should not be subtle, it should be reactive to the user's will. Considerate is not about the user it is also about the content. How can the features make the content feel richer. 

  • Unrestricted Flow:  Minimal friction between the user and their goal. Remove frustration. Always try to reduce the amount of steps between the user and their goal. If something takes three steps figure out how to make it two. Get to where the user wants to go, when they want to go there. 

  • Clarity:  There should be visual and interactive design consistency across features. Users should not be confused about how to navigate through features or remove elements from their experience. 

  • Timeless:  Future Proofing. Maximize Longevity. Will the design stand up in 5 years? Be content focused. Leverage Talent, the actual fiction, the design, and the models as a large part of the interface. 

  • Directional / Intentional:  Creating a path that we want people to follow. If we are going to dig a hole it has to lead somewhere. 


Halo ChanneL . GREENLIGHT Video

343 INDUSTRIES .  September 2013

* imagery in this video wAS done for placement only.  do not ASSUME any text Is indicative of features iN current or future Halo video games.  

 

The Halo Channel was green-lit in September of 2013.  We put together a montage along with a large plan as to how the channel would come together.  If you compare this to the video at the top you will see that the channel essentially changed in every single way.  All for the better. 

The commercial at the end is one of our Network ID or branding moments that would harken to the best of the brand or a call to action.  In this case, it's a reminder as to why the war rages.  A downed shipped needing rescue from an advancing enemy.  


Halo ChanneL XBOX ONE .  NOVEMBEr 2014