The IBC Accelerator Media Innovation Programme provides a framework that enables agile collaboration. Leaders Muki Kulhan and Mark Smith explain all about the eight remarkable projects already underway.
Following two highly successful years, the IBC Accelerator Media Innovation Programme has returned during 2021, once more providing a framework for fast-track innovation. Eight new projects have been selected to benefit from its multi-company project-based approach, covering everything from 5G to Sustainability as the companies involved collaborate to address and solve some of the more complex business and technology challenges that face the media and entertainment industries.
The Accelerator Programme is growing. This year we will have over 100 Champions and Participants involved in the eight projects that we are featuring, including some of the biggest names in the industry from a wide field composed of broadcasters, studios, manufacturers, suppliers, developers, research centres and academic institutions.
And, with IBC now taking place in December, there is plenty of time for all those involved to deliver what we hope will be some truly compelling showcases once we congregate physically — and virtually — at the RAI in December.
5G obviously features large once more, highlighting its ability to disrupt multiple sectors of the industry and all aspects of the content supply chain. Accelerators this year look at three 5G areas: its role in Innovation in Live Production Workflows, its growing contribution to Remote Production in Live Sports, and the way it is enabling LB XR — Location-Based eXtended Realities. Champions involved across the 5G Accelerators include BBC, BT, beIN Sport, BT Sport, Digital Domain, EBU, ESL, ITV, Multichoice/ Super Sport, Olympic Broadcasting Services, Telenet/Liberty Global, Vodafone, and more.
- Read more: The IBC Podcast An introduction to the IBC2021 Accelerators
We also have several projects that are a continuing evolution of previous Accelerators. Last year, Al Jazeera led a project that was looking in detail at how AI could be used to automatically identify violent content and provide real-time, AI-driven content moderation on live broadcast content at scale and speed. This year the team is focussing on AI for Determining the tonality of news reporting, in terms of how AI can be used to detect, measure and flag bias in the representation and portrayal of diverse genders, cultures, and ethnicities in reportage and news coverage.
Last year we also highlighted the collaborative nature of the Accelerators by having games engine developers Unity Technologies and Unreal/Epic working together on the same project. They’re back as Champions again this year working with Sky (Project Lead), Pixar, RTE, and Trinity College Dublin on RT-3D Interactive Content Creation for Multi-Platform Distribution. This project will aim to physically create assets using specific Immersive XR software in conjunction with traditional production tools, with a focus on animation or photo-real live-action output and a goal of demonstrating measurable benefits over traditional workflows.
We’re also going to be looking at Smart Remote Production for Real-Time Animation. Led by RTÉ and EBU, and Co-Championed by RAI, VRT, YLE, ETC, Digital Domain, and Epic Games, this project is going to examine a variety of approaches to providing low-cost animated remote production by creating a proof of concept in a cloud-based workflow.
CTOI, ORF, and MuseumTV amongst others are going to be looking at Immersive Audio and Sound Imagery, looking at the experience that six degrees of freedom of fully immersive audio can provide. We have a pronounced theme of accessibility running through many of the Accelerators this year, and this project is a case in point, with the plan to use pre-market room simulation software and classical musicians to provide a convincing simulation of ‘being there’ for a live performance, dynamically adjusting the sound mixing for each camera angle.
Last but not least, Sustainability in Live Production. This Accelerator will examine the tangible elements that can be introduced into productions to critically measure, improve enhance efficiencies and reduce energy consumption, whilst also highlighting areas where vendors could develop better solutions than what currently exists. The idea is to include as much data as possible from a full live production with a push to extend to a second phase project next year that could encompass, by way of example, the wider focus of end user consumption with a TV manufacturer. A world class team of Champion broadcasters is coming together that aims to make a real difference with a tangible, incredibly exciting proof of concept in this area.
Building on 2020’s success In 2020, the Accelerators kick-off meeting was one of the last industry events to be held before lockdown. Despite the multiple challenges that the year threw at us, the projects chosen for the IBC2020 Accelerators delivered impressively on their promise, piggybacking on the industry-wide innovation in remote workflows and collaboration that kept content firmly on the world’s screens.
It was a valuable proof of concept of the collaboration framework we’ve established for the Accelerators too, and we were delighted with the successful outcome of the projects. Despite the restrictions we all had to work with, for the 5G Remote Production Accelerator, for instance, we were able to mount a showcase from Amsterdam (pictured), including a music performance captured live using drones from a boat on the city’s canal highlighting the performance capabilities of network slicing on a public 5G network.
It wasn’t without its challenges — a power surge at the start of the performance temporarily knocked out the electrics on the boat — but that is one of the key USPs of the Accelerators; they have been designed to enable real-world experimentation, and several of our Champions stated they had learned more about 5G deployments in one day than they had in months of conferences and white papers.
This year we hope to provide the same degree of accelerated learning. All in all, the IBC2021 Accelerators are bigger than ever, with more companies involved and more ambitious showcases planned to demonstrate successful Proof of Concepts as we come together again in Amsterdam. Even from this early-stage perspective, we can see that it’s going to be an exciting year.
The IBC Accelerator Media Innovation Programme is led by digital XR producer and creative technologist Muki Kulhan and independent consultant Mark Smith. For more information on the Accelerators, visit https://show.ibc.org/exhibition/ibc-accelerator-media-innovation-programme