Nexus

6 minute read

Go back in time, before TikTok, Instagram, Youtube, Google, Facebook… even Skype… four years before Napster.

Before streams were anything other than small rivers, “online” hadn’t entered the dictionary, and the first influencer had yet to be born.

There was email, and the fledgling internet.

And there was Nexus TV.

Nexus TV was a student-led television station created in 1968 at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich. In 1995, they broadcast live on the internet for 24 hours, a world first. This was building on a long tradition of creating their own content, breaking boundaries (and rules when they wouldn’t bend), and innovative television.

Each show was initially transmitted to a nearby viewing room via the use of a very low-power transmitter. To their surprise, this transmission extended beyond the campus to neighbouring residences. From that early starting point, the station improved both the range of its content, as well as providing students with a “secret” channel, showing recorded segments from BBC and ITV.

By the late 1980s, the station had been closed down by the university. The equipment was locked away, and the transmission cables were disconnected. However, in 1992 a young 18 year old, Stuart Campbell, (CEO of Bareska) joined with a couple of friends to restart Nexus. Firstly as a station manager, then as president between 1994-95.

What made him want to dust off all that old equipment, and crawl through the roof space reconnecting the wires? A genuine love of making video that people enjoy watching hooked him then, and still drives him creatively and professionally today.

Campbell thrives from that same buzz of creating something that people watch and enjoy. It is the behind the scenes, backstage feeling when broadcasting any show or the countdown to going live.

On 13 May 1995 Nexus broke new ground, successfully broadcasting online for 24 hours live. Then in late May 1995, Nexus TV also broadcast the University fashion show live on a European scale. The broadcast reached as far as cyber cafes in Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Unfortunately, the university were not at all happy the station had almost crashed the UKs IT systems, and online broadcasts had to wait for the rest of the world to catch up.

This was accomplished by blending existing and emerging technologies, innovative thinking, a fair amount of electrical tape, and the boundless optimism of the young pioneers they were. Equipped with Apple Macs, PC’s running Linux and Windows 3.11, one thin ethernet and a fibre optic link, Nexus managed to stream live to the world. The Macintosh AV was fed a direct video and audio line from their mixing decks, which converted information into Internet Packets. This was then fed down to a “Reflector”. Allowing people from around the world to log on and request the broadcast information to be sent to them.

The company was formed in Hamburg in 2014, where it maintains a small production office and team today. The business opened in the UK in 2015.

Bareska’s logo, a bear, represents independence, resilience, and strength. Bears are also warm, caring and loyal. All are characteristics of the company and its professional culture. Bareska sets trends and industry standards, principally safeguarding and pushing high quality service and product innovation, always delivering successful outcomes for clients.

These customers are B2B across the Aerospace, Energy, Financial Services, Pharmaceutical, Technology, Telecoms, Transport and Sciences sectors. The Hamburg office predominantly serves B2B beauty and haircare brands.

Within these sectors, Bareska’s target demographic is sales leaders, HR teams and communication and marketing teams. The team at Bareska create video and deliver video strategies, helping companies raise awareness of their brand, generate demand and facilitate new business leads. The company assists clients to get big deals over the line, while also providing support with recruitment or internal communications.

The visual and auditory medium of video connects with an audience over and above what the written word alone can offer. Another of Bareska’s stand out features as a business are its data-driven services, enabling the performance tracking of targeted content, ensuring its effective and successful delivery.

Linking back to the streaming experience from Nexus, during the pandemic Bareska has invested in understanding how to deliver engaging webinars and remote conversations over and above the endless zoom meetings where companies have no visual identity. Bareska have delivered live streams carrying full brand identity and engaging video-play-ins to provide a TV show like experience which people enjoyed and engaged with.

Bareska has also pushed the boundaries of the virtual studio. Broadcast sports and election nights shows have been using the virtual studio for many years now. Bareska was the first to trial this technology for B2B in 2016 and use it for a customer in 2018.

As Campbell says, “This is pretty groundbreaking stuff and we’ve really brought it a long way. We can now introduce life-like 3D augmented models and allow the presenter to walk around them as if they were there. We can live stream these to a global audience and allow viewers or contributors from around the world to be interviewed or present.

This experience at the edges of current video technology brings Campbell full circle.

“We pushed the boundaries of the live stream at Nexus and we’re about to do it again at Bareska. These virtual studio productions are something we want to really push to allow us to grow!

Add to that we have a really amazing team, whom I am really proud of and the next step is to take a big growth step and scale up, which will in turn allow all our current team to lead their own teams and the company to develop the academy model so we can give something back.”

Amazingly, there’s currently no real accredited pathway or qualification for business video or video marketing available in the UK. Bareska want to provide one, through an academy to be set up in 2022. This will provide a fully-funded course for young people to learn the industry, where they may not otherwise have the opportunity. From Campbell’s point of view, there is a massive shortage of available talent in this part of the industry,

“It’s great to learn how to do something through trial and error; it leads to creativity and definitely a lot of inventiveness, and you get really good, really fast at problem solving, tackling those technical gremlins.”

“But at Nexus we also had outside expertise we could call upon, mentors in the industry, and I know that I benefited a huge amount from that. So, that’s what Bareska Academy will be about when we launch it next year, passing it on and paying it down the line.”

In this way, Campbell is sharing many of the skills he first honed working on Nexus TV. Now, as then, it is about giving people an opportunity to make television to the highest possible standards, and then seeing if those standards can’t be pushed just that little bit further.

Bareska and Nexus both pushed the boundaries, testing the limits of the possible. Break a few rules. Climb through ceilings and lay cables where you shouldn’t. Try new things and innovate. Nexus pushed boundaries because they didn’t care who said no. Bareska do it because they don’t want to be like anyone else and they stand up for what they believe in. Sometimes it doesn’t win friends, but as Campbell says, this isn’t a popularity or vanity project. Bareska believes in what it does, loves doing it, and constantly seeks new ways to innovate, and push those boundaries.

 

Related Links

BBC Radio Norfolk’s radio documentary on Nexus.

Un-earthed interview of Morecombe and Wise filmed by Nexus, stating that they’re bored stiff by Monty Python.

 

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