IBC2014 Innovation Awards Shortlist
The shortlist is out! We now know the 10 finalists who will be waiting nervously at the Awards Ceremony on Sunday night at IBC.
The IBC Innovation Awards are very highly regarded because they are unique. They honour not just new developments but the way they are used to solve a real world puzzle. They have to help a broadcaster or media company be more creative, more efficient or reach its audience better.
To win an IBC Innovation Award a project has to show real collaboration between the broadcaster and its technology partners. What makes a successful entry is something that solves a real creative, technical or commercial issue with style and flair – and of course innovation.
From a huge number of entries, the international judging panel have narrowed the field down to a shortlist of 10 across the three categories: for the most innovative projects in content creation, content management and content delivery. Click on the links below to read more about the finalists. But to find out who wins, you will have to join us for the Awards Ceremony, at 18.30 on Sunday 14 September.
There are three shortlisted projects nominated for the most innovative use of technology in content creation.
End User: Channel 4
Channel 4 in the UK, which already provides extensive excellent coverage of horse racing, wanted to create something special for the biggest race in the calendar, the Grand National. The race itself is 10 minutes of continuous excitement as a field of 40 horses tackle 30 of the most challenging jumps over more than 7km. How do you help the audience with their most important question: where is my horse?
The broadcaster worked with Civolution, Monterosa and TurfTrax on the Horse Tracker app. With small data transmitters into the saddle cloths of each horse and 80 receivers around the Aintree course, some clever processing drove a second screen app which aligned horse positions, distances and speed with the live television transmission. The iOS app was used by more than 100,000 people during the live race broadcast.
iPad controlled radio mixers
End User: Cumulus Media
In November 2013, Cumulus Radio Engineering took a fresh look at an old challenge. They had committed to providing the facilities for more than 20 radio stations covering the American Music Awards in Los Angeles. Each would need a booth with room for four people (hosts and interviewees), with four microphones and four headphones, controlled by a mixer with event feeds also coming in. The hidden side of this was a mass of cables to be pulled in, tidied, secured and maintained.
The lightbulb moment was the realisation that the mixer electronics did not need to be in each booth, just the control surface. Why not use audio over IP to get the signals to and from each desk, but leave all the processing in a central location. Instead of rigging hundreds of cables, they were now down to just a single Cat 5e to each booth. Working with Axia Audio, Broadcast Software International and Telos Systems they built a remote control audio network where each radio station could control its own output from an iPad Mini which managed the central processing.
Monday Night Football
End User: Sky Sports
On air since 1992, Monday Night Football on Sky Sports has developed into the most influential discussion on the game in the UK. More than that, it has been the launchpad for a number of innovative on-screen technologies. For the 2013/4 season the show saw its most dramatic and exciting look yet, featuring a super-wide vista display as a set backdrop, a seemingly huge studio space thanks to its virtual sets, and improved analysis using touchscreen telestrators.
To achieve this engaging, immersive new look, Sky Sports worked with two technology partners who are normally competitors: ChyronHego and Vizrt. The two graphics specialists had to collaborate seamlessly with each other to realise the vision of Sky’s creative, technology and production teams. The result is a wow factor which has raised the bar for sports television.
There are three shortlisted projects nominated for the most innovative use of technology in content management.
DPP file-based workflows
End User: BT Sport
In August 2013, UK telco BT launched three sports television channels, from a brand new broadcasting centre on the site of the 2012 Olympic Park. Alongside the broadcast channels is a host of digital media services. From the beginning, BT Sport determined that it would be a fully file-based broadcaster. That meant that it became the first broadcaster anywhere in the world to be fully compliant with and reliant on the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) file format, also known as AMWA standard AS-11.
To manage file ingest, re-versioning and delivery to multiple platforms, systems integrator Timeline Television chose technology from Dalet Digital Media Systems. As well as transcoding, the Dalet system also provides file and broadcast quality control. The result is a seamless file interchange using an open standard soon to be used by all UK broadcasters and, almost certainly, producers and broadcasters worldwide.
Content factory for digital and social media
End User: Groupe Média TFO
Télévision Francophone de l’Ontario was set up by the provincial government of Ontario, originally to run a French-language television channel from Toronto. Now it has dramatically developed its remit to deliver bright, attractive and engaging content across multiple platforms, using modern production techniques and content management. To mark the shift from simply broadcasting, it is now known as Groupe Média TFO.
The new technology platform they built, with IPV’s Curator content and workflow management at its heart along with technology partners Adobe, Applied Electronics, EMC Isilon, Oracle and Signiant, allows content to be shot on the most appropriate device, from a multi-camera HD studio to an iPhone. The aim is always to get the content online, and on air, as quickly as possible. In the year since the project’s implementation, TFO has increased the content it creates by 40%, while at the same time reducing the freelancer bill by 50%.
End User: Sky News Arabia
The construction of the broadcast centre for Sky News Arabia won it a place on the IBC Innovation Awards shortlist in 2012. The channel has proved massively popular, and it determined that an extension of its business continuity plans was important, to stay on air and serve its audience. To be specific, should the main centre be unavailable for any reason it wanted to be able to broadcast for 12 hours while alternative resources were mobilised.
SNA has almost 20 bureaus around the Middle East, and they realised that, with some relatively modest additions to the technology, they could create a disaster recovery network through its own data centre, SkyNet. Working with technology partners Blackmagic, Haivision, Nevion, Vizrt and Zixi, they built a platform that could be accessed and controlled from any of the bureaux over the public internet. It allows them to broadcast and transmit Sky News Arabia from anywhere in the world including live programming and breaking news.
There are four shortlisted projects nominated for the most innovative use of technology in content delivery.
Realtime tweets on live television
End User: Airtel Digital TV
Market research told Airtel Digital Television in India that its audience is keen to read what celebrities and sports stars are tweeting about popular television shows as they are broadcast. Rather than expecting the audience to seek what they were looking for, Airtel wanted to present the tweets as an optional overlay on the television screen.
The challenge was that this had to work over existing set-top boxes, so there was no option for a return path. It had to be as easy to use as any other STB function, through the existing controller, and it could not interfere with any other functionality such as speed of channel change. Together with technology partner BrizzTV Media Labs, Airtel solved the social, legal and technical issues, and Twitter on TV launched on six channels in October 2013.
End User: BBC Future Media
Regarded worldwide as the most successful online service from a broadcast, the BBC iPlayer now delivers to over seven million users a day, on four screens and over 1,000 devices. The catch-up services are expected to be available immediately on the point of broadcast, which can be a challenge for instance when there are 16 different regional news programmes all transmitting between 18.30 and 19.00.
The transcoding and preparation challenges are huge, but because they are peaky they are ideally suited to a cloud solution. When, in 2013, BBC Future Media was asked to create a new media factory to meet the huge iPlayer demand, it worked with Amazon Web Services, as well as Atos, Codeshop, Elemental and Omnia, to create a powerful, flexible and secure cloud transcoding service which ensures audiences have more content, in better quality, available faster and more reliably.
End User: Sky Deutschland
Sky Deutschland also has a successful on demand service, and at the end of 2013 it augmented it with Snap. This puts much of its library of films, series and children’s programmes online for viewing on the web, iPad and iPhone, and Samsung Galaxy and smart televisions, with more platforms to come. It runs as a standalone OTT product, available without a set-top box or long-term subscription.
To meet the technical challenges, Sky Deutschland assembled a huge team to collaborate on this successful project, including Accedo, Atos, Capgemini, Coeno, Contone, CreateCtrl, Deloitte, Fincons, HP, ID Media, Namestorm, NTT Data, SHS Viveon, Sky Italia, TDS, Wirecard and Weeks.
NBA League Pass
End User: Turner Sports
Basketball fans told Turner Sports they wanted to watch the game of their choice, with their local commentators. They wanted their own particular slant on the coverage of an away game, not the home side’s commentaries and shot selection. With high quality IP delivery now practical, Turner set about meeting these expectations for the 2013/4 season.
The result is the NBA League Pass broadband service that delivers any game live over broadband to any subscriber on any platform: Apple, Android, desktop, games console, Roku and more. Working with Adobe, Akamai, DNF Controls, Elemental, FreeWheel Media and Harmonic, Turner now has a platform that can deliver every game over broadband to any subscriber. That means as many as 30 games a night, or over 800 streams published in real time.