With more than 50,000 visitors every year, IBC in Amsterdam is the main trade show for media technology in Europe. For broadcasters, R&D departments and vendors on the continent and beyond it is a must. At IBC 2017, the EBU stand (10F.20) is hosting eight Member-driven projects and showcasing its Eurovision Member Services.
Watch our interviews with Members on the EBU stand showcasing innovations "for broadcasters, by broadcasters", here.
BBC R&D is demonstrating tools that are being developed in preparation for new video standards such as HDR (High Dynamic Range). “We’re showing the format conversions that are going to be essential for any broadcast ecosystem”, says Katy Noland, Senior Research and Development Engineer at BBC R&D. “And we’re also showing a brightness meter which may well end up becoming an essential tool to avoid uncomfortable brightness jumps at programme junctions.” Guidelines for brightness levels, similar to those that exist for loudness in audio programmes (EBU R 128), are currently under discussion in the industry.
Technically, this brighter and sharper television can be delivered today, says Ian Nock from the industry organization Ultra HD Forum: “We’re demonstrating to operators that the technology for UHD deployment is mature. What we’re showing is user experience of UHD HDR on mid-tier and high-end TVs, and that it’s possible to deliver this content. We are demonstrating a KPN technical trial end-to-end solution, showing a variety of SDR to HDR conversion technologies to enhance the consumer experience of SDR, and we’re glimpsing the near future with Higher Frame Rates.”
Alongside the UHD and HDR demos, the EBU is also showing UHD footage with HDR and Wide Colour Gamut, shot at this year's Montreux Jazz Festival by Swiss broadcaster RTS.
New video formats are not the only challenge broadcasters are facing. “Broadcasters have to rethink their workflows for audio with the demand for increasingly personalized content on multiple platforms”, say the IRT’s Michael Weitnauer, one of the contributors to the EU-funded Orpheus project.
“Orpheus is building an end-to-end object-based audio solution that addresses these issues and offers extremely useful personalization options – such as control over the voiceover volume – to the end user. We’re essentially creating a reference architecture and showing broadcasters here at IBC that it is possible to produce and deliver object-based audio using a chain of interoperable building blocks that are based on open standards.
Improving OTT services
Another issue affecting broadcasters is distribution cost. EBU Senior Project Manager Bram Tullemans: “Broadcasters are looking for cost-effective ways to deliver content over the internet, as the relatively high cost of OTT distribution and the growing demand for it are creating a financial dilemma, particularly for smaller organizations. With the EBU Flow multi-CDN pilot we’re leveling the playing field a bit. We’re showing that it is possible to distribute more cost-effectively, while at the same time increasing robustness and quality of service.”
Metadata is an essential ingredient for personalized OTT media services, and another seeing continuous innovation: “We see renewed interest for what is now called “microservices” – agile workflows and modular services in the cloud, and that’s exactly what we’re are showing with FIMS (Framework for Interoperable Media Services) on the EBU stand”, says the EBU’s principal metadata Project Manager Jean-Pierre Evain. “And we’re doing it using metadata formatted as semantic data.”
Sveriges Radio is showcasing its award-winning NXG remote broadcast solution, consisting of an OB backpack and a convenient control surface. The system allows journalists to contribute live coverage and to self-operate entire radio shows away from headquarters – all over an IP connection. “We were inspired to start this project here in Amsterdam during my first visit to IBC in 2013”, says SR Managing Director, Cilla Benkö. “I’m very proud about what our co-workers have been able to put together and that we’re able to demonstrate it at IBC.”
Fittingly, the EBU managed .radio internet domain is available just around the corner from the NXG demo. “We’ve just launched the .radio internet top level domain, so the timing is perfect”, says the EBU’s Alain Artero. “We’re very proud to see so much interest from the radio community – from stations, radio-related businesses and radio professionals alike.”
And finally, EBU is showcasing Recommendation and Single-Sign-On systems developed by EBU Members, first deployed in December 2016 by Switzerland's RTS, and now also live on the website of Portugal's RTP. The PEACH system – Personalization for EACH – is the result of a highly collaborative process involving a development team spread throughout Europe.