Sunday night, 13 September, sees the presentation of the IBC2015 Innovation Awards.
This year the shortlist covers the widest scope ever, from radio stations to remote production; from terrestrial transmitters to online apps; from playout automation for broadcasters to centralised television referee solutions for sport.
What makes the IBC Innovation Awards so exciting is that they do so much more than look at new technology. To win one of these highly coveted awards, you have to create teams of collaborators, each bringing state of the art technology, and build a unique solution.
Even then, you will only make the shortlist if you can demonstrate that you have achieved real success. A winning project will make the end user more effective creatively, commercially or operationally. And that is one more way in which these awards are unique. It is the end user – the broadcaster, production company or facility – which takes home the award. Although everyone involved, of course, shares in the glory.
This year sees 10 shortlisted entries for the three awards. Each will be showcased in the IBC Awards Ceremony on Sunday 13 September at 18:30.
First up in the Content Creation category is a major modernisation for the BBC’s local radio stations. ViLoR – Virtualised Local Radio, keeps the content local but uses common, centralised equipment.
This broadcast technology as a service project saves the corporation 75% on equipment costs.
The BBC developed the solution in-house, using technology 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.
Also from the UK, Channel 4’s innovations regularly make the broadcaster a finalist in the IBC Innovation Awards. This year it is showcasing a light-hearted talent contest, The Singer Takes It All, which is entirely dependent on a mobile app, from initial auditions to audience votes in the live shows.
Channel 4 worked with technology partners Chunk Digital, Electoral Reform Society, Endemol Shine Group and Tectonic Interactive. The third finalist is the National Basketball Association, the NBA. It already runs a central broadcast facility in Secaucus, New Jersey, but now it has added a software-defined replay centre.
This gives its television match officials all the replays and reviews they need. With up to 15 simultaneous games and nine cameras at each, this is a busy centre. Cisco, Evertz, Samsung, The Systems Group and Zayo came together to collaborate on the technology.
Contrasts in Content Management
Moving on to the Content Management category, where two of the four finalists are among America’s biggest broadcasters.
Disney/ABC Television Group has implemented a realtime IP distribution system for content around its New York distribution facility, handling uncompressed HD for more than 200 affiliated stations across the USA.
The technology comes from AC Video Solutions, Arista Networks, Imagine Communications and The Systems Group.
ESPN is also looking to the IP future, with 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.
Much closer to IBC’s home is SBS Broadcasting in Amsterdam who have been looking at ways to improve the viewer experience of its films and drama series. It wanted to maintain dramatic, high contrast audio for its movie channels, consistent with the best loudness practices and 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.
The fourth finalist is dock10, one of the most efficient production and post production powerhouses in the UK. It has always encouraged collaborative and remote working, and it joins our shortlist with the implementation of Field Dock, allowing creative teams to connect into its post network from locations or anywhere else they choose. The technical team from dock10 worked with Avid and Limecraft.
Delivery: Switch On and Switch Off
The third category is for most innovative use of technology in content delivery. The first finalist is honoured for moving towards analogue switch-off – but this time of radio, not television.
Norkring, the transmitter company in Norway, has now reached 99.5% of the population with DAB+, ready to replace the FM network. Broadcasters Digitalradio Norge, NRK, P4 Radio Hele Norge and SBS Discovery will benefit from the work of 2WCom, Aldena, Cisco, GatesAir, Kathrein-Werke, NEC, NetCom, Net Insight, Relacom, Site Service, SmartGrid, Spinner, Telenor Satellite Broadcasting and Telmec Broadcasting.
Pac-12 Networks covers an incredible 850 live sports events a year, from its 12 university members in the western USA.
Every one is now a remote production, with cameras, microphones and pundits on site and directors, editors and producers back at base in San Francisco. IP connections across distances as far as 2,500km are accomplished with less than a frame delay, thanks to technology from Internet2, Nevion and T-VIPS.
The last finalist covers even greater distances. Sundance Channel Global broadcasts into Latin America, with tailored content for each country and a separate, Portuguese language feed for Brazil.
A cloud content replacement system allows a seamless workflow between the channel’s headquarters in New York, playout partner Telefonica in Spain and local satellite distributor Sky Brazil, and uses technology from Amagi Media Labs.
All 10 projects will be on hand on Sunday night, but to find out who wins you will have to be there.
The decisions of the judging panel of international editors and consultants will be revealed at the IBC Awards Ceremony, at 18:30 on Sunday night in the Auditorium.
The show – which will feature some stunning new content, surprise guests and terrific entertainment – is free to all IBC visitors.