Case Study: Channel 4's Spying On My Family

If you could watch everything that your family got up to, would it change the way you see them? In Spying on My Family, a new format from The Garden Productions being piloted by Channel 4, one British family have volunteered to give up privacy for a week, with cutting-edge technology giving them complete access to each other's day-to-day lives.

Channel 4's Spying On My Family Channel 4's Spying On My Family

Remote controlled cameras used to track the family at all times Remote controlled cameras used to track the family at all times

At the swipe of a finger, on specially-adapted smartphones, both parents and kids were able to watch each other 24/7 - as well as being able to snoop on each other’s texts and online worlds. At a time when privacy is a contentious issue, the family explored if there is any anything to be said for giving it up.

Using geo-trackers, screen-mirrored phones and remotely-watchable security cams - cutting-edge tech all already available to buy - each family member was able to monitor every single action and interaction the others make. We provided our family with the means, then left it to them.

"How much you can ever really know what your kids are getting up to is one of the perennial challenges of parenting, but in the age of smart phones and social media it can feel even more daunting. We love the idea of taking the phones and tablets that are so often the cause of arguments and anxiety in modern day family homes and updating them with the latest tech to give one family an extraordinary window into each other's lives..."

Gilly Greenslade, Commissioning Editor (Factual Entertainment), Channel 4

The Garden desired zero 'off-camera' time, so WilkieTV designed a bespoke rig; and alongside specialist engineering provided a hybrid of fixed-rig cameras, live streaming ENG crews, in-car streaming and live family worn body-cams.

Filming took place both inside and outside the home, with cameras tracking every move in the family's lives. After the initial discomfort of seeing exactly what each other get up to, total transparency opened up new channels of communication and changed the family's relationships.

Deliverables on the project included:

  • 20 Camera Fixed-Rig for the family home
  • Multiple Live-Streaming "Portable Backpacks" for P/D Shooting Teams to follow family members when they left the house
  • Body-worn Live-Streaming Cameras for family members to wear when they left the house
  • In-Car Live-Streaming Cameras for monitoring all car journeys
  • Real-time GPS trackers for family members to wear when they left the house
  • Real-time Screen Mirroring of their mobile phones and tablets providing an 'over the shoulder' video feed of all activity on their mobile devices
  • All live feeds (>40!) to be received into the OB Gallery and ISO recorded for the production team to monitor at all times
  • All live feeds to be re-encoded and available via a mobile app for all family members to watch at any point to see any other family member's movements in real-time regardless if they were in or out of the house

"Spying on My Family is at the cutting-edge of live streaming. Every day, multiple ‘pop up’ streams were vital to track family members around the city and local area. Attacking this unscripted 32-camera live shoot demanded a fresh approach – throwing out the rulebook of traditional OB."

Claire Wilkie, Managing Director, WilkieTV Ltd

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