Time for a screen test

Time for a screen test

A TV series asks contestants to guess what happens next in stunning homemade videos from around the world

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Firemen tackle a blaze in one of the spectacular videos testing contestants in What Happened Next?.
Firemen tackle a blaze in one of the spectacular videos testing contestants in What Happened Next?.
Technology is getting better every day. A lot of things we thought were impossible a decade ago are now commonplace.

One striking improvement is the ability of just about everyone to record things in our daily lives.

Before cameras and mobile phones were merged into one sleek, portable device, photography and filmmaking were done mostly by keen enthusiasts or professional photographers and film directors. Seeing the results of such work often took a long time.

However, now we're living in the high-speed digital world of the internet, things take little or no time to see. Snapping pictures requires just one tap on our phone - sometimes two - if you're shooting a video; the second tap is to stop recording.

Such mobile innovations mean what we film can be seen around the world - often in real time.

In February, when a meteorite crash-landed in Russia, footage of the disaster emerged online within minutes. There is seemingly no aspect of life that is not shown on YouTube videos, from fun skateboarding tricks, spectacular car crashes to easy-to-make recipes.

Now a new television game show, What Happened Next?, which premiered on Discovery Channel yesterday, is making use of thousands of these crowd-sourced videos. The 10 episodes have contestants trying to guess what happens next when amazing, real-life videos are stopped right before something important happens, or something goes wrong. One video is stopped just as a man is jumping off a springboard into a pool. What happens next?


A whale surfaces near the coast beside a woman sitting in a canoe.

To win, contestants must guess what they think will happen next in a paused video. But it's not as easy as it sounds. Take a helicopter's spinning rotor blades. We tend to think they would cut anything to bits. But what if you throw a chunk of metal at them? Watch it and you'll learn.

Imagine driving down a road, only to see a giant truck about to crash head-on into your car ... Guess what happens next?

Some clips may make you cringe as they involve possible human injuries. Some even look deadly. You can imagine how dangerous it is for a kayaker to plunge down a 58-metre waterfall. Or for surfers to brave waves several storeys high.

The show is not about poking fun at unfortunate people. After each clip, the programme gives detailed scientific explanations, telling people why, from the viewpoint of science, an event unfolds the way it does.

What Happened Next? also features footage of some of the greatest stunts on Earth, such as staggering human "towers" - with people climbing skywards on each other's shoulders, in a town near Barcelona, Spain; the Catalan tradition is recognised by Unesco as a part of global heritage.

The show's mission is to destroy popular myths and open viewers' eyes to the "real" world. Yet viewers are advised to watch - but never try any stunts at home.

What Happened Next? is on Thursdays at 9pm on Discovery Channel


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