You are browsing the archive for BBC Radio 4.

Face time comes to an end

July 4, 2012 in Events, News

The Faces and Voices experiment conducted by the Procartoonists.org member William Rudling has come to an end. It was part of the “So You Want to be a Scientist?” project run by the BBC radio show Material World.

Faces and Voices poster

Detail from the Faces and Voices poster designed by William Rudling

You can read our earlier reports on the experiment here and here. The final took place at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival. Here, William brings us up to date:

I didn’t win, but to be one of four finalists was special and the experience of promoting and researching the Faces and Voices experiment was amazing.

During the Spring Bank Holiday I was in Sheffield as part of the Bang Goes the Theory roadshow. During the run up to the science festival, finalists attended a roadshow event in Birmingham or Edinburgh. I loved “working the crowd” choosing random faces and voices – 885 Sheffield folk helped us that weekend, the highest number out of the four experiments.

A highlight was a visit to the BBC Academy, when all four finalists travelled to London for a crash course in speech and drama. Our coach was an actor and she puts through various exercises for relaxation and voice projection. I wouldn’t have missed that for all the pen nibs in Cornelissen’s. It certainly gave an insight into how actors prepare themselves.

The results of all the preparation work? Online, we had 2,258 people who took part via the web. Now that finals are over and the deadline met, my mentor and I can investigate 3D face recognition and the academic interest the BBC challenge has stimulated.

Many thanks to William. We wish him future success with the follow-on work.

Putting a voice to the face

May 15, 2012 in Events, News

William Rudling's Faces and Voices
We told you in March about William Rudling, the cartoonist and Procartoonists.org member who is one of four finalists in Radio 4′s So You Want to be a Scientist? He recently took his Faces and Voices experiment to the Bang Goes the Theory roadshow in Sheffield. Here is his report:

The warm welcome and friendly support we got from the visitors to the Interactive Zone, where the first Faces and Voices experiment was carried out, more than made up for the weather which lived up to its promise – no sunshine and it was cold!

We had 880 participants during the three days of the event. Each saw two sets of photos in the first part of the survey. Looking at the first row of three faces, they had to decide which of the first two faces looked like the third.

In the second part, participants had to decide which of the two faces was a good match to the voice they were hearing, reciting a Mark Twain quote:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Listening to the quote helps us to understand how the larynx works and adjust to create different sounds in the text; for example the words explore, dream and discover.

Bang Goes the Theory roadshow

The data taken from the Sheffield event [above, held on the May Bank Holiday weekend] will help us enormously and I would like to thank all those who took part.

Anyone who couldn’t take part can still do so by using the
Faces and Voices website

Avatar of Royston

by Royston

Art comes face to face with science

March 11, 2012 in General, News

Material World, the BBC Radio 4 science programme, has launched a challenge to the find the amateur scientist with the most interesting idea – and the cartoonist William Rudling is in the running.

William, a Procartoonists.org member, is one of four finalists in the So You Want to be a Scientist? challenge.

The cartoonist, 69, from Leeds, believes that having studied faces as a caricaturist for many years, he can tell what people look like from hearing their voices.

He told us the idea behind his experiment: “My discovery came from caricature events – finding that two people with similar features often have a similar pitch of voice. This has nothing to do with dialect or how you shape your mouth, it’s something inherent. Dame Judi Dench and Samantha Bond [below] are a good example.

“We are designing a website for the experiment and asking people to match voice and faces. The photographs and recordings will be provided by Leeds University students and personnel. I am putting the images I’ve drawn to illustrate my theory on a Facebook page.”

William, who has always had an interest in science, particularly the environment and astronomy, was keen to get involved when he heard about the challenge.

“All four finalists will have a mentor, a scientist, who will advise and organise a suitable platform on which the experiment will take place. The mentor is a partner in the whole experience.”

The other finalists are Dara Djavan Khoshdel, who wants to find out if the price of art correlates to our emotional response to it; Val Watham, who is investigating whether horizontal or vertical stripes are more flattering to wear; and Izzy Thomlinson who wants to know how sounds that annoy us change with age.

The amateur scientists will present their results at Cheltenham Science Festival in June, when the judges will choose a winner.

Avatar of Royston

by Royston

Bloghorn patron raises laughs and money

March 16, 2009 in Comment

PCO patron Libby Purves raised lots of laughs on Radio 4′s Stand-up With the Stars, as well as raising money for charity.

But sadly she was not the winner – that honour went to fellow Radio 4 presenter Peter White. Listeners decided the winner by a telephone vote. Proceeds from the vote raised money for Comic Relief.

You can read more about the programme and watch videos of the performances on the programme’s website.

Bloghorn patron stands up

March 8, 2009 in Comment

PCO patron Libby Purves made her attempt for competitive stand up comedy glory on BBC Radio 4 and you can watch a clip of her in action here.