The IBC2015 Innovation Awards shortlist reflects some of the key issues affecting everyone in broadcasting and electronic media today. Among the shortlisted projects are new ways to regionalise content efficiently, create collaboratively and engage with audiences more closely.
What makes the IBC Innovation Awards unique is that its winners are using the latest technology in real-world applications. The 10 finalists who will appear on stage in September are the end users of collaborative projects: broadcasters, media enterprises and service providers who had a defined goal, brought together the best technology partners and now benefit from the innovative thinking.
“Each year we see more and more submissions, because media companies worldwide recognise the very special nature of the IBC Innovation Awards,” said Michael Lumley, Chair of the judging panel. “This year’s shortlist must be the best ever, with potential winners ranging from some of the world’s biggest broadcasters to a sport federation.
“Their technology partners span the industry and indeed span the globe: one finalist is a Latin American broadcaster, running software developed by an Indian company using a communications platform from Spain,” Lumley added. “The judges debated long and hard to get the hundreds of entries down to a shortlist of just 10, and I am very much looking forward to the moment when the winners are announced on Sunday evening at IBC.”
There are three categories in the IBC Innovation Awards, for the best applications of technology in content creation, content management and content delivery. Today’s announcement is of the shortlist in each category. The winners will be announced during the IBC Awards Ceremony, at 18:30 on Sunday 13 September. All IBC visitors are invited to attend the ceremony, which is held in the RAI Auditorium and is free to all.
Three very different projects are contesting the award for most innovative project in content creation, embracing social media, local radio and sports oversight. The first nominee is the UK’s Channel 4 and its talent contest The Singer Takes it All. This was entirely dependent on an app, first to allow the contestants to audition karaoke-style, then for realtime voting on live shows to choose a winner. It was a witty and engaging way to recreate the excitement of live television. Technology partners were Chunk Digital, Electoral Reform Society, Endemol and Tectonic Interactive.
ViLoR – Virtualised Local Radio – is the BBC’s project to reinvent services for the regions of the United Kingdom, keeping the content local but using innovative technology to reduce equipment costs by 75%. The 40 BBC local radio stations each have their own creative teams, but all using common centralised equipment. This is thought to be the first large-scale roll-out of broadcast technology as a service. Developed largely in-house, the project used skills and equipment from a large number of suppliers, including Atos, Broadcast Bionics, Cisco, Comrex, EM Computers, EMC2 , Glensound Electronics, HP, IMI Mobile, Mayah, Microsoft, Oracle, Scisys, Technica del Arte, Telos Axia, VMWare, Vodafone and Vortex.
As part of its mission to be the most respected sports league organisation in the world, the National Basketball Association (NBA) operates a central broadcast facility in Secaucus, New Jersey. Now it has added a powerful replay centre, managed by software-defined networking, to allow its officials to provide review and decision-making. With the possibility of 15 simultaneous games and nine camera angles at each, that means managing 144 feeds while making it simple for the game officials to concentrate on getting the right decision quickly. Cisco, Evertz, Samsung, The Systems Group and Zayo came together to collaborate on the technology.
Two of America’s biggest broadcasters are on the shortlist for the most innovative content management project, each pioneers of IP connectivity and software-defined video. Disney/ABC Television Group has implemented a realtime IP distribution system for content around its New York distribution facility, based on 40 and 100 gigabit ethernet and handling uncompressed HD for more than 200 affiliated stations across the USA. The technology comes from AC Video Solutions, Arista, Imagine Communications and The Systems Group.
ESPN is also looking to the IP future, and has opened the first large-scale, fully ethernet connected production facility in the world. Digital Center 2 is home to five studios, 16 edit suites, six control rooms and some of the most popular sports television in the USA. Its technology partners included Arista Networks, Evertz and VizRT.
Set to be the finalist with the shortest journey to the ceremony, SBS Broadcasting in Amsterdam has been looking at ways to improve the viewer experience of its films and drama series. It recognised that maintaining dramatic, high contrast audio was key, but it needed to be achieved with the best loudness practices, particularly on channels with commercial breaks. Finally, it had to do it all in a highly efficient, automated workflow. The result was an anchor-based loudness normalisation workflow, using technology from Delta Sigma Consultancy, Minnetonka Audio and Nugen Audio.
Dock10 has rapidly developed into one of the most efficient production and post production powerhouses in the UK. It has always encouraged collaborative and remote working, and its implementation of Field Dock, which allows creative teams to connect into its post network from locations or anywhere else they choose, earns it the fourth nomination in this category. The technical team from dock10 worked with Avid and Limecraft.
While many nations have gone through the analogue television switch-off process, few are even close to achieving it in radio. Norway is the exception: it has now shut off its FM radio network, replacing it with a DAB+ service that reaches 99.5% of the population. The country’s broadcast transmission provider Norkring led the project on behalf of broadcasters Digitalradio Norge, NRK, P4 Radio Hele Norge and SBS Discovery. Technology came from 2WCom, Aldena, Cisco, GatesAir, Kathrein-Werke, NEC, NetCom, Net Insight, Relacom, Site Service, SmartGrid, Spinner, Telenor Satellite Broadcasting and Telmec Broadcasting.
AMC Networks International transmits popular television channels into Latin America. It recently faced the challenge of the need to tailor the content for Portuguese-speaking Brazil, differentiating it from the largely Spanish-speaking rest of the content. Rather than face the expense of a separate Brazil feed when only some of the content needed replacing, it developed a sophisticated system which stored replacement content in the cloud, triggering it using watermarked break bumpers. It allows a seamless workflow between AMC in New York, playout partner Telefonica in Spain and local satellite distributor Sky Brazil, and uses technology from Amagi Media Labs.
Pac-12 Networks – the broadcast arm of the conference of 12 west coast universities – offers an incredible 850 live televised sports events a year. To manage all of this, it uses commodity internet connections to link a basic crew at the event with its three central control rooms in San Francisco. The remarkable technology, which allows talkback, telemetry and telemetric data to travel to and from sports venues as much as 2500 km away with less than a frame delay, was developed with Internet2, Nevion and T-Vips.
The IBC2015 Awards Ceremony takes place at 18:30 on Sunday 13 September, in the Auditorium in the RAI Centre. As well as the Innovation Awards, the ceremony will see the announcement of the Judges’ Prize, also in the gift of the same panel of international editors and consultants judging the Innovation Awards.
The IBC International Honour for Excellence, IBC’s highest accolade, will be presented during the ceremony, along with awards for special merit, best conference paper and for exhibition stand design.
The lively ceremony also includes compelling and dramatic entertainment on the big screen and is free to all IBC visitors.
For more information, visit www.ibc.org