The shortlist of finalists for the IBC2012 Innovation Awards reflects the changing nature of the television industry, honouring innovations from imaginative new ways of engaging viewers in sport to giving consumers faster, more intuitive and more flexible access to content. Shortlisted projects come from North and South America, Europe and the Middle East.
The unique quality of the IBC Innovation Awards is that they recognise the practical application of leading edge technology. A successful entry will primarily show how the technology is benefitting the user, whether that is a broadcaster, content producer or the audience at home. And while it is the user that will take the award, the honours go to all the technology partners who collaborated to achieve something valuable and new.
There are three categories in the IBC Innovation Awards: for projects in Content Creation, Content Management and Content Delivery. It is the shortlists for these three which are announced today. A fourth award, the Judges’ Prize, along with the winners in each category, will be announced at the IBC Awards Ceremony, to be held on Sunday 9 September at the RAI, Amsterdam.
“What was once a television industry has now blossomed into a world where creative talents make content which engages with and excites audiences wherever they are, whatever device they have to hand," said Michael Lumley, Chair of the IBC2012 Innovation Awards judging panel. "The scope and scale of this year's entries reflects this huge expansion, and gave the judges a tough challenge to come up with a shortlist of just 10 projects. My congratulations to the finalists and good luck at the ceremony on Sunday night."
The first of the three nominations in the Content Creation category recognises that audiences routinely use laptops, smartphones or tablets at the same time as watching television, and that a new immersive experience can be created by synchronising a second screen app with the broadcast programme. Broadcaster FX UK wanted to enhance its audience's experience of post-apocalyptic horror series ‘The Walking Dead’ and asked Red Bee Media to develop not just an app but, using technology from Civolution, a means of linking it to the television programme, whether it is a live broadcast or from a DVR.
Sports specialist ESPN is recognised for enhancements to its coverage of Grand Slam tennis, to help viewers understand the strategies, not to mention the efforts that top players employ to gain an advantage over their opponents. Developed by Orad with support from Hawkeye and Spidercam, the system analyses, processes and presents a huge amount of data fast enough for commentators to illustrate key points as each match progresses.
Finally, TV Globo Network in Brazil is shortlisted for its in-house development Vate. This is an intriguing way of helping directors and camera operators to provide flawless coverage of unpredictable live events. Developed for ‘Dança dos Famosos’ – the Brazilian version of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ or ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ – Vate memorises shots set up by the director and operators during rehearsals, then prompts them with the sequence of shots during the live broadcast. These are just prompts because, of course, the celebrity dancers may not get their sequences right during the competition, but it helps the director achieve the best possible coverage.
Two of the three finalists in Content Management come from the world of sport. Turner Sports Central is recognised for its new asset management system, developed to track, log and retrieve the 27,000 live recording hours of content from more than 6,000 individual events each with around 300 live logged highlights – around two million highlights captured each year. The system was developed in house with technology partners including Dalet Digital Media, EVS, Stainless Code, Active Storage, Quantum and NetApp.
In the fast-paced world of NASCAR racing, the sport’s governing body provides its own coverage from 18 trackside cameras which are also used for race control. It has recently created a new and powerful high definition replay system, developed with Telestream in association with Promise Technology and Quantum, which gives operators and officials instant access to any part of the content from any camera angle.
One of the biggest system integration projects undertaken in recent years supported the launch of Sky News Arabia in May of this year. While the infrastructure is firmly file-based with as much emphasis on connection to social media as to ingest, the centre itself still has to operate as a highly pressurised broadcast centre, and the build, by TSL, features some of the largest monitor walls ever constructed. Technology partners included ScheduALL, Miranda Technologies, EVS and Broadcast Bionics. For this complex converged facility, Sky News Arabia is the third nomination to the awards shortlist.
The first of the four finalists in the Content Delivery category returns to the sporting theme, but this time with an imaginative use of technology to remotely produce programming in a cost effective manner. CBS Sports Network turned a radio sports talk show based in Louisiana into a television programme produced live from its control room in New York. Four HD robotic cameras are operated from 1,500 miles away with the feeds sent over conventional public and private IP paths, using technology developed by VidyoCast.
ITV in the UK has completed a trial of a personalised content replacement system, to insert content tailored for different users on different platforms seamlessly into live streaming outputs. The technology developed by Yospace works in close collaboration with ITV’s Snell playout automation.
The final two nominations both concern delivery into the home. In the USA DIRECTV has developed a new Home Media Center, which provides a central server and delivery into multiple rooms. It is based on the important emerging standards UPnP, DLNA and RVU, which allow any compliant client device to receive both a standard user interface as well as content from the server at the perfect resolution. Technology partners included Broadcom, Entropic Communications, Jethead Development, Pace and Samsung.
Last but by no means least is a development for Channel 4 in the UK, which allows the Microsoft XBox 360 to access the on demand service 4oD. The app, developed by KIT digital with technology partners Microsoft, Red Bee Media, Akamai, 24/7 Realmedia and Metabroadcast, allows the full range of XBox and Kinect controls to be used, including speech and gestures. The system proved hugely popular with both consumers and advertisers when it was launched in December 2011.
The IBC2012 Awards Ceremony takes place on Sunday 9 September at 18:30. As well as the Innovation Awards and Judges’ Prize the programme will include the IBC International Honour for Excellence, IBC Special Award, the Best Conference Paper and Exhibition Design Awards. The ceremony is free to all IBC visitors - make the most of early bird rates by registering for IBC2012 now.