69 years ago yesterday, the end of WWII began with the Normandy Invasion by allied forces. To commemorate the event, BBC Channel 4 launched an immersive online event that chronicled the 24 hour period minute by minute. The result is an impressive blend of vintage news and history, coupled to dynamic technologies that bring the history alive. For a generation of people that are removed from the Second World War, this integrated television/website/social media program brings the history alive with a new vitality.
“D-Day: As it Happens” told the story of The Normandy Invasion through the perspectives of seven people who were there in 1944. Those individuals include a nurse, a paratrooper and a military cameraman, and infantrymen.
To kick off the event BBC 4 ran an hour long show on June 5 which introduced the back stories of each character. The following day there was a follow up program that recapped the events that took place on June 6, 1944. Between the timing of the first program and the follow up, internet users could track progress in real time through a breaking news-style website created by Digit and by following individual Twitter feeds set up for each of the “D-Day 7”.
The website and TV shows used newly found and previously unseen material collected over a 15 year period by D-Day researcher Colin Henderson. Henderson’s radio reports, film, photographs and records allowed Digit to create maps plotting each of the D-Day 7’s locations throughout the day and develop a 24-hour live feed displaying their reactions, that connected to photographs and video footage of the invasion. Over the 24 hour period of time, more than 1,000 updates were posted to the site with the written accounts taken from historical records including diaries and interviews.
“The idea was to take yesterday’s news and tell it through today’s technology. If D-Day happened now, there would be rolling coverage, live feeds and constant Twitter updates. By using the web and social media, we managed to create something that had people engrossed in the characters and their stories,”
Digit creative director Adam Lawrenson.