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What’s happening at IBC this December

IBC 2021 is planned for December 3-6, 2021 at RAI in Amsterdam. During the event, hundreds of companies are scheduled to exhibit their latest respective products and services for the content and technology industry. In addition, on each day of the event, there will be sessions in which content and technology will be discussed. Of the 72 sessions planned, the following fourteen seem to be more relevant.

Streaming is ubiquitous and both bandwidth- and storage- hungry. In the Optimising Streaming – Savings of Scale Sessions- there will be a focus on improvements to both these challenges, a must for cost saving at scale. The first paper will investigate, tests and provide an open-source solution that optimises viewer experience when adaptively streaming context aware encoded video, a particular challenge due to its bursty bit profile. The second paper will address the storage challenge of supporting both HLS and DASH low-latency streaming, with clearly illustrated examples and experimental results. In supporting papers, the optimisation theme will continue as will a seeking to address the “watch-together” synchronisation challenge. This session will be held on December 3 from 11:00-11:45 am at E102.

At the remote vs on-premise Live Production Session, the pros and cons for using remote live production will be discussed as will the benefits of on-prem live production. Queries like does it make sense to transform as a storage vendor and move away from on-premise processing to remote production distribution will be explored. Other questions like does being workflow centric now help if all production moves to the cloud in the near future will also be answered. Finally, the question of how cloud technologies see the camera will be discussed. This session will be held on December 3 from 12:15 to 1:00 pm at the Production Stage.

The session, How Virtual Sets and AR are Changing Content Production will be held on December 3 from 14:00 to 14:45 pm at the Production Stage. During the session topics like how AR solutions revolutionized sports in a pandemic year when games had to take place behind closed doors will be discussed. Also, on the discussion table will be topics like how to use virtual crowds solutions and even a fully virtual stadium as a way to keep fans engaged with their clubs and preserve the excitement of sports. Questions like how AR solutions can help competitions, broadcasters, and clubs capitalize on their live matches by providing simple intuitive advertising insertions will be answered. Other pertinent questions like, is there any way AR enhances storytelling, how does AR facilitate the audience to digest large data sets (eg. in Elections or Sports), how live events can benefit from AR/VR, how about real-time postproduction, how virtual sets help change the way series and film is produced today will also be answered.

The Advances in Audio – using some remarkable signal processing- session will be held on December 3, from 14:45 to 15:30 pm at E102. Broadcasters know, that the most common complaint from viewers is that programme dialog is hard to discern against a background of atmospheric sounds, mood music and competing voices. This is especially a problem of age, where 90 percent of people over 60 years old, report problems. Research over decades has unsuccessfully sought a way of enhancing the intelligibility of TV dialog – until now! At the session, the results of trials by a collaboration of researchers using their deep-neural-network-based technology across a wide range of TV content and age groups will be shared. These show a startling performance.

Attendees will also hear about exciting research using cloud-based AI and 5G connectivity to deliver live immersive experiences to a variety of consumer devices. Key to the experience will be the ability of viewers to change their content viewpoint, with live rendering taking place in the cloud.

The presentation will focus on the audio which is object-based and AI-driven, and carries with it the metadata necessary for personalised rendering of the scene. As the capture of background is also critical to the recreation of the audio scene, the team chose second-order ambisonics accompanied by Serialised Audio Definition Model descriptive metadata. The presentation will explore detailed aspects of the audio processing and production. Altogether, this will be a fascinating glimpse of the technology required to convey 360° audio for free-viewpoint XR.

In the Advances in Video Coding session, the significant coding gains arising from both traditional and Artificial Intelligence based techniques will be showcased. Quantization is at the heart of compression and in this paper, attendees will learn how practical advances in rate-distortion optimisation continue to drive encoder gains, across codecs. Also, there is the rise of Artificial Intelligence which is playing an increasingly important role in video compression. Those in attendance will hear how machine learning has been successfully used to identify “salient” areas of a picture for concentrated bit allocation, and will find answers to the question, is it robust and predictable? The supporting papers at the session will continue the Artificial Intelligence theme addressing where in video compression it is (and is not) best applied and how it might be standardised. This session will be held on December 3, from 15:45 to 16:30 at E102.

The Facial Recognition – Various facets of a powerful media tool – session will be held on December 4 from 10:00-10:45 am at E102. Today facial recognition is considered one of the most controversial media technologies. Recent claims are that it can reliably recognise subjects wearing sunglasses or medical masks, and that it can even differentiate between identical twins. Not all of its many possibilities are sinister, however. In this session, attendees shall see how facial processing is already employed by a global broadcaster and that it is demonstrating its value in several areas of live broadcast production, such as assisting a commentator to recognise each of 500 runners in a road race. In a second presentation attendees shall discover how a convolutional neural network has been trained to classify facial expressions, allowing it to recognise and tag emotion in video material. This technology will provide an entirely new way of categorising and searching drama and movie content.

Today, every media organization has the common imperative to transform, driven by a digital-first future that arrived sooner than anticipated. While some business areas may be contracting, others are experiencing exponential growth. In the Digital Transformation in the Media and Entertainment Industry session, the opportunities through multiple lenses: From media companies to cloud providers will be explored. Together, panellists and attendees will investigate what’s needed to transform and thrive in the future of Media and Entertainment. This session will be held on December 4, from 12:30 to 13:15 pm at the Showcase Theatre.

For decades, broadcasters have been producing linear programmes, such as news, magazines or documentaries, which contain valuable audio-visual information about a vast variety of individual topics. The problem is that these individual topics are often neither addressable nor findable. Could AI and machine learning, segment or chapterise this archived material so it would be re-usable in the interactive digital world? Might AI even be able to re-edit it into personalised media?

At the AI in Media Production – Creating new markets for linear content session, visitors will look at a fascinating project which is doing all this and more. Improvement is still required, especially in the editorial challenges for AI, of creating re-compiled media, but public-facing trials are underway and generating much interest. Also key to the re-use of these re-purposed assets is the recognition of the diversity of today’s video delivery platforms, in particular social media. AI can be used to cleverly target particular content offerings across platforms according to: predictions of audience interests, trending stories, particular localities, anniversaries, etc – all achieved through news scanning and on-line trend monitoring. Content can also be automatically adapted to suit the style and culture of each platform. This session will be held on December 4 from 14:00 to 14:45 pm at E102.

The cloud-based workflows session will be held on December 4 from 15:15 to 16:00 pm at the Production Stage. At the Cloud-based Workflows – what IP can do for production of content – session, attendees will learn the benefits of using the cloud in content production, like the ability to scale a project for global expansion while keeping costs low. The cloud also facilitates production of content in live environments that require capturing speeds and other sporting achievements. It enables reduction of investment in proprietary technologies. Attendees will learn about compatibility with custom/in-house solutions and how to address any integration issues with those. They’ll learn collaboration in house, office life – remote working and moving to new paradigms, and how to address the security of remote storage, and about disaster recovery.

The public’s voracious appetite for premium content, coupled with smartphone/smart TV, penetration, and the introduction of next-generation broadband has created a digital ecosystem that’s ripe for disruption. Unprecedented times lie ahead – and not just for the established players. In fact, with global sector revenues predicted to top USD 159 billion by 2027, the VOD market is expanding exponentially, offering businesses of all sizes who want to compete in the video space the chance to reach diverse and enthusiastic audiences all over the world. However, all of this opportunity comes at a cost. The industry’s extreme growth and rapid change is challenging to adapt and respond to. Skylark Showcase Session: VOD Futures: How to disrupt & thrive in the video landscape in 2022 and beyond – will show how businesses can disrupt and thrive with video content in 2022 and beyond? This session will be held on December 5, from 11:00-11:45 pm at the Showcase Theatre.
The SMPTE Session. Media in the Cloud Agnosticism and Interoperability: Where We Stand Today will be held on December 5, from 11:00 to 11:45 am at E102. The sessions’ panel will examine multi-cloud deployment. Specific topics will include portability; challenges to overcome for interoperability; and potential risks of continued cloud incompatibilities. Panelists will discuss what moves are being made or should be made towards interoperable cloud technology, standards, practices, or other measures that allow users to choose the best of breed solution? Finally, the panel of cloud service providers and practitioners will share their own approaches and experience and will discuss potential strategies.

The onset, rollout and continuing evolution of 5G has huge potential to help broadcasters accelerate their digitisation and transformation strategies and strengthen their market position right across the content value chain from production to distribution. This will be discussed at the 5G & Remote Production in Live Sport session on December 5 from 13:30 to 14:15 pm at the Production Stage.

At the Future of Satellite in Broadcast and Production session, the topics of discussion will include, the advantages and disadvantages of using satellite in live content production, is there space for the satellite in remote production in the future and even space for growth?

Use cases of internet access via the satellite link, in remote areas (eg. Peruvian mountains) and cruise ships, live streaming of sports – boating sporting events, and remote learning will be discussed. Also, how IDirect/ST Engineering, EKT and Broadpeak delivered OTT content over satellite, native IP content sent over satellite using DVB standard will be explained. This session will be held on December 5 from 14:45 to 15:30 pm at the Content Supply Chain stage.

At the – Let the internet help, not overtake TV/broadcast! – session, a use case of how internet-based technology is key in transforming professional broadcast production will be presented.

Today, broadcasters are often stuck in legacy technology and processes when it comes to content production. Production pipelines tend to be pre-defined and limited by SDI infrastructures and legacy industry standards, only using the sources and cameras that have been plugged into the environment hours before a live event happens and very rigid in what can be done and how. Not only is this costly from a technology and operations perspective, but it also leaves broadcast production locked out from the innovation that spurs on the internet, where new potential concepts and formats are born in the era of personalization and interactivity.

SVT’s CTO Adde Granberg will explain a proof-of-concept (PoC) conducted in partnership with Agile Content/Edgeware bringing useful experience from streaming and internet TV distribution, which effectively showed SVT’s news programming being produced using a cloud-based approach. He’ll share the process and results of complementing SVT’s traditional broadcast stack with a web- and cloud-based data centre approach that uses standard internet connections, common web components and consumer devices. In doing so, he’ll demonstrate how the PoC proved once-and-for-all how a transformation to an internet and cloud-based broadcast production can reduce production cost and has the potential to change how broadcasters can develop for the next generation of TV. This session will be held on December 6 from 11:45 to 12:15, at the Production Stage.

The rapid advent of digital technologies like AI, cloud, and virtual production is opening up new vistas for broadcasters and media producers. They can now produce higher quality media content, broadcast it in lifelike quality, to meet audiences’ voracious appetite for instant access to relevant content.  At this year’s IBC Show, attendees will not only learn how to leverage these technologies to deliver a better customer experience, they’ll also learn what the future has in store for their industry. It’s for these reasons that the IBC Show 2021 is a must-attend for serious broadcasters and media producers.
BCS Bureau

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