The IBC2023 Accelerators programme has begun in earnest, with initial discussions around pitch proposals from a core team of key Champions and Participants beginning in December 2022 - including representative Champions from Microsoft, Warner Bros Discovery, BBC, Sky Sports, BT Sport and DAZN. The team has been developing ideas taking in 5G, EDGE Computing and Cloud Production, with bandwidth constrained locations in mind, that will be pitched as an Accelerator project provisionally titled ‘Connect & Produce anywhere’.
Following on from this, the official IBC Accelerator Kickstart Day on 8 February 2023 will see ideas from the Roundtable - and a host of other proposals - whittled down into the final list for inclusion into the 2023 programme.
IBC2023 Accelerators: Building on past successes
Mark Smith, IBC Accelerator programme co-leader opened proceedings at the IBC2023 Accelerators Sport Roundtable in December by setting out the Accelerators programme stall, referencing the success of the IBC2022 Accelerator programme even under time constraints due to the pandemic.
“The 2022 Accelerator Programme was a huge success by any measure”, confirmed Smith, “but this year we’re even better placed, with a large number of broadcasters, platforms, studios and key media & technology vendors already keen and committed to making 2023 better than ever”.
The assembled expert panel began by discussing the World Cup 2022, focussing on some of the challenges of IP at scale, and particularly the challenges of synchronisation between different data feeds. With the explosive growth in data sources - at the World Cup 2022 these including multiple camera feeds, athlete tracking, semi-automated offside technology and the an inertial measurement unit (IMU) in the football - the difficulties in synchronising these real-time, substantial volume feeds are considerable, not least when dealing with a remote event.
Another key challenge is the difference in ‘speed’ of those data sources, with visual data from camera feeds needing compression, and then potentially editing, while pure data feeds from telemetry sensors on F1 cars as an example being instant, creating another gap. As one participant put it - “Synchronisation between the two is a challenge. It’s about the customer seeing [the various data sources] on their linear TV - some are going to be behind the line for live data. So you almost need a mechanism to delay live data to make it a synchronous experience…”
IBC2023 Accelerators: Standardised approach to cloud?
This segued into a discussion around the wider broadcast industry need for a standardised approach to cloud data, which was spurred by comments around watching World Cup games in a multi-screened environment, with some screens out of sync with the others. A key challenge here is that while the technical solutions are readily available, there are wide sweep of proprietary vendor audio and video synchronisation standards that don’t necessarily interoperate easily.
Jonathan Hale, Discovery said: “I think it’s a [potential Accelerator] project and it’s not just for audio. We all know SDI works, and 2110 works, but 2110 has control plane challenges as it scales that no one foresaw in the 2110 standard. When we get to the cloud it explodes into lots of closed vendor implementations of everything we do. There are proprietary implementations of NDI, and lots of different single-vendor box solutions, which work great small scale and allow innovation.
”However, like the 2110 control challenges, making it all work together at scale under a transport & common API control plane is going to present challenges.”
”How do we get vendors to go from proprietary to standard or common API, and what parts do we even need to standardise to best support the workflows?”
IBC2023 Accelerators: Taking on the Edge compute challenge
Matt Stagg, BT Sport was keen to build on the success of 2022’s Remote Production in the middle of nowhere, the core element of which was the design and build of a private 5G network in a box. This box was used as a connectivity solution around the world, as well as for the Queen’s funeral arrangements.
“Everybody likes to see something [physical]. I’ve been thinking about how we can look at edge based cloud or private cloud and whether there is an opportunity for us to look at some of the orchestration. We [could have] the cloud servers at location, which gives us some quite interesting opportunities where we can use 5G, 5G but also fixed camera inputs [handled onsite]. But we don’t have to build it in AWS and have an architect. We can actually get people down there and do what we’ve got to do [onsite], then turn it off and move it.”
IBC2023 Accelerators: Diversity and inclusion a key consideration
A last but far from least discussion point coalesced around the essential questions of inclusion and diversity, which were recognised as a key challenge. A critical aspect was getting engagement from a diverse range of young people.
Kevin McCue, Sky Sports put out a general cross-industry call: “We are lacking engineers, particularly female engineers and different cultural engineers and [we need to consider] how can we address that?”
Suggestions were made to actively investigate partnerships with non-profit and educational partners to ensure that young people could participate in the future, as Purminder Gandhu, BBC summarised: “That’s one of the benefits of this Accelerator Programme, it gives the opportunity for individual growth and learning as well, so young people could get involved, and ask questions. There’s a big opportunity there.”
The 2023 IBC Accelerator Kickstart Day at the IET on 8 February 2023 will discuss the full series of pitches for 2023 Accelerator project ideas selected from submissions received via the official application process. The event is free to attend for broadcasters, platforms, studios and key media & technology vendors in the ecosystem, and will also include networking drinks and the presentation of the 2022 Accelerator Project of the Year Award.
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