The Accelerator program was launched in 2019 to support the media and entertainment industry with a framework for agile, collaborative and accelerated innovation through a multi-company project-based approach to solving complex media business and technology challenges and entertainment.
Although the program has already hosted two cohorts of projects, everything has been done virtually due to the restrictions of the Covid-19 confinements.
Mark Smith and Muki Kulhan, program co-leads, spoke of the excitement of finally being able to meet the participants in the flesh. “It’s great to have human contact,” Kulhan said. “We just saw people on a video screen – we also meet a lot of people for the first time. We are used to seeing people from the top of the shoulders.
Smith echoed his response. “It’s almost like we know their avatars, but now we’re meeting the real people behind the avatars,” he said.
In his keynote address, IBC CEO Mike Crimp spoke about the importance of meeting in person after last year’s IBC was canceled. “I actually got goosebumps,” he said. “It’s not just an event – it’s an IBC event.” He went on to stress the value of the program. “The Accelerator is a hidden gem and it has a great future,” Crimp said. “It’s a new way to collaborate – a seamless event. People realize that they can stand up and come up with an idea and take an interest in it.
After the keynote, Mario Reis, Head of Telecommunications at Olympic Broadcasting Services, gave a presentation on innovation at the Tokyo and Beijing Games. Reis spoke about the challenges of producing live coverage of the Games amid a global pandemic, and stressed that “being friends and having trusted partners is the most important thing”. It was the first Olympics to use 5G infrastructure, which allowed for more flexible approaches to event coverage. “You can get new content distributed live,” Ries said. “It’s the novelty.”
Sponsored by software-defined video platform Zixi, the event also showcased the eight challenge projects of the 2021 cohort. Accelerator challenges are defined and developed by the media organizations themselves, facilitated and managed by IBC, with collaboration at heart. They focus on addressing and solving challenges posed by end users and buyers (Champions) of media and entertainment technologies, products and services, working to develop innovative solutions on an intensive project journey of four to six months.
Stephen Clee, European Sales Manager at Zixi, spoke about his company’s involvement in both Accelerator cohorts. He said he thinks the program is a great way for the industry to learn more about Zixi and what the company does. He followed with a presentation on Zixi’s commitment to sustainability and how the company has supported broadcasters in this effort with software that offers dramatically improved efficiency.
Presentations from the 2021 cohort culminated in a live demonstration of the 5G live video contribution from the BBC, BT Sport, OBS, TV2 and the University of Strathclyde using a private network installed in the theatre.
BBC R&D’s Ian Wagdin, who led the demonstration, spoke about the benefits of being involved in the programme. “What’s great about working on the project is that we’re working with a lot of different people that we wouldn’t normally work with,” he said. “It’s not just the BBC working on something in isolation, but working with other broadcasters. Along with that, we can get a whole bunch of tech vendors together and plug in kits from different manufacturers and make sure they actually work. And it’s much more like we do in the real world when we design solutions for production.
Wagdin stressed the importance of the collaboration offered by the program. “It’s a friendly environment where nobody keeps secrets,” he said. “Everyone wants things to work, everyone understands if things don’t work out. Everyone understands that this is an experimental environment. But it also gives us a chance to understand the benefits for us as broadcasters and therefore where our return on investment can come from.
The second part of the day saw 13 innovative challenge projects pitched for the 2022 cohort. These were:
- · Ultra-Low Latency HEVC Encoder-Decoder
- · The next generation news studio
- · 5G and the arena of the future for XR Events
- · Content sharing, micropayment and incentive solution
- · 6DOF Story and Music
- · Experiments in the audio metaverse
- · Next Generation Personalized Virtual Advertising – The Challenge of OTT Integration
- · Real-time mixed reality pipelines for studio live streaming across multiple platforms
- · Localization context
- · Sustainable Storage as a Service
- · Project Nautilus – A Moonshot for Ocean Live
- · OTT custom data processing, using Edge Computing
- · 5G in the middle of nowhere (actually somewhere…) Remote Production
After the pitch session, participants engaged in project pairing and brainstorming for each of the proposed projects.
A number of submissions came from members of previous cohorts who were looking to further develop their concepts.
Running a Virtual Accelerator
Kulhan and Smith discussed the realities of launching this program just before Covid caused the cancellation of live events around the world, and some of the unexpected benefits of working remotely.
“I think we were very lucky that this program was born when it did,” Smith said. “Anyway, it was always about remote collaboration, because we wanted to bring people together from all over the world. Covid has just accelerated this process. We must continue to enhance the benefits of international global collaboration through virtual connections. »
“Innovation never – ever stops,” Kulhan said. “And I think it’s given people a chance to think about innovation and try things out, and really continue to show that there’s R&D in place and new prototypes are being developed. manufacturing, even during lockdown.”
Kulhan spoke about the benefits participants have already seen through their involvement with the accelerators. “They have seen their business increase and many fruitful business relationships have emerged between champions and participants,” she said. “The open knowledge and learning gained through proof of concepts and all materials developed between consortia and teams can be used to grow their businesses both in terms of profile and profit.”
She described conversations she had that day regarding the upcoming IBC Show: “People are saying how excited they are. People are already telling me “I’m in hall 5, I have the stand, I’ve improved”.
Smith spoke of the anticipation generated by this year’s IBC Conference. “I think the big piece of the accelerator that’s been missing for two years is the combination of proof of concepts being shown on the show floor and on stage at IBC,” he said. “I hope to see eight amazing projects with over 100 companies showcasing fabulous innovations. I think this year is a great year for us to really get massive traction with this program.
Imran Sroya, Director, IBC, closed the event with a keynote highlighting the organizations commitment to the Accelerator program, and presented the Accelerator Project of the Year 2021 award to the 5G LBXR (Location Based Extended Realities) project. ). The winner was selected by a panel of independent media and technology experts from across the industry.
2021 Acceleration Program Participants
5G LBXR (Location-Based Extended Realities): Champions: Digital Domain, ESL/Weavr, Hado, Park Playground, Telenet/Liberty Global, Twickenham Studios and Vodafone.
Participants: Huawei, Net Insight, Noitom, ProMod Esports Productions and Quark.XR.
Innovation in live production workflows with 5G: Champions: BBC, beIN Sports, BT Sport, EBU, Fox Sports, ITV, Olympic Broadcasting Services, RTÈ, RTL, TV2, ViacomCBS, Vodafone and Yle.
Participants: Evertz, Grass Valley, Huawei, Juniper Networks Microsoft, Net Insight, Nulink, Singular.Live, University of Strathclyde, Zixi.
5G and remote production in live sports with 5G: Champions: Al Jazeera, BBC Sport, beIN Sports, BT Sport, BT, Fox Sports, Olympic Broadcasting Services, Ooredoo, Multichoice and Super Sports.
Participants: Aviwest, Evertz, Grass Valley, Microsoft, Mobile Viewpoint, Native Waves, Net Insight, Taswer and TVU.
More sustainable live productions: Champions: BBC, BT Sport, Albert/BAFTA, Sky, Premier League, IMG/Premier League Productions, NBC Universal and Super Sports.
Participants: AWS, Blackbird, M2A Media, Microsoft, Singular.Live, Zixi, Hitomi.
AI bias detection: Champions: Al Jazeera, AP, BBC, ETC/USC, Multichoice, Reuters and RTÈ.
Intelligent remote production for real-time animation: Champions: digital domain, EBU, ETC/USC, RAI, RTÉ, Unreal/Epic, VRT and YLE.
Participants: RADiCAL, Respeecher.
Immersive audio and sound imaging: Champions: Audible, IOTC, Kings College London, MuseumTV, ORF, Audio Engineering Society (AES), Twickenham Studios, University of Surrey and University of Lethbridge.
Speakers: Omnilive, Magic Beans.
Creation of interactive RT-3D content for cross-platform distribution: Champions: Cartoon Network/Warner Media, Fox Sports, Pixar, RTÈ, Sky, Trinity College Dublin, Unity Technologies and Unreal/Epic.
Participants: Anchorpoint, Masterpiece Studios, Noitom, Trick3D and Tvori.