As presenter Rob Curling said at the start of last night’s IBC Awards Ceremony, it covered everything from song and dance to flying cricket balls, from the death of tape to the birth of the cloud. This year two of the major awards were linked to cinema: one for a hundred years of success, the […]
As presenter Rob Curling said at the start of last night’s IBC Awards Ceremony, it covered everything from song and dance to flying cricket balls, from the death of tape to the birth of the cloud. This year two of the major awards were linked to cinema: one for a hundred years of success, the other for cutting-edge creativity.
The evening ended with a sneak preview of the latest movie to be shot in high frame rate 3D. IBC’s highest award, the International Honour for Excellence, went to the director Sir Peter Jackson. He was just nine when he saw King Kong, and vowed to remake it, devoting his life to learning the skills and pushing the technology forward. His current project is a three-movie adaptation of The Hobbit. The evening’s finale was a tantalising tease of scenes – in high frame rate 3D – of The Desolation of Smaug, the second part of the trilogy, which will premiere in December. The thrill of the silver screen was also the inspiration for this year’s Judges’ Prize, given by IBC’s international panel of editors and consultants. The Indian cinema industry is celebrating its centenary this year, and IBC has joined in the party. One of India’s biggest movie stars, Amitabh Bachchan, received the award on behalf of all his peers and colleagues.
Alongside the glamour of the movies, the IBC Awards also recognised the commitment of researchers looking to the next generation of technologies. A Special Award went to the Vision Cloud project, a consortium of 15 broadcasters, vendors and academic institutions. Their work takes the concept of cloud storage and processing and makes it a practical reality in the challenging environment of broadcast. Already Italian broadcaster RAI – one of the project partners – is using the newly developed principles in its online news services. Mike Knee, a development engineer at Snell, made a repeat appearance on the stage this year. For the second time he won the IBC Best Conference Paper Award, given to the technical paper which combines cutting-edge research with clarity of expression. His paper on scalable motion estimation was described as ‘a good read’! For the first of the three IBC Innovation Awards we returned to the world of The Hobbit. Park Road Post Production in Wellington took the award for most innovative work in Content Creation for the pipeline they developed, with technology partner SGO Mistika, to handle the vast amounts of data involved in finishing the movie trilogy.
The IBC Innovation Award for Content Management went to Irish national broadcaster RTÉ for its FAST project – file acquisition and server technology. This project allowed RTÉ not only to move away from tape, but to make the move to a fully HD service practically and cost-effectively. Last but definitely not least, the Japan Commercial Broadcasters’ Association took the Content Delivery award for a very advanced project to build a contribution and distribution network across the country. This used the latest in IP networking technology to deliver the quality and resilience they sought, richly deserving its place in the limelight.
Following the dream Sir Peter Jackson’s movies have so far collected 20 Oscars, four Golden Globes and 14 BAFTAs. In 2010 he was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen – and now he is the recipient of IBC’s highest award, the International Honour for Excellence. Along the way, he brought to the screen The Lord of the Rings, and is now making another trilogy based on Tolkien’s book The Hobbit. To create the look he wanted for The Hobbit he pushed forward another remarkable technological advance: high frame rate shooting and projection. The movies are shot – and best seen – in 48 frames a second 3D. The audience at the IBC Awards Ceremony were treated to a jaw-dropping demonstration of how good high frame rate projection can be. Courtesy of Warner Bros., they saw a teaser for the second in The Hobbit series, The Desolation of Smaug, using the absolute state-of-the-art installation in the IBC Big Screen.
Sadly, Sir Peter Jackson is in the process of finishing The Desolation of Smaug for its December release, but he did send a video message to IBC.
‘This is a great time to be a film-maker: the amount of freedom I have is absolutely incredible,’ he said. ‘That is due to all the wonderful technology companies and the innovators who keep pushing the boundaries – please keep going! There is going to be innovation in the entertainment business that I am sure we can’t even dream about.
‘Thank you for this incredible award,’ he concluded. ‘I am very honoured to accept it, and I look forward to working with everyone in the future.’
Two-time recipient looks at scaling For the first time ever, a researcher has won the IBC Conference Prize twice. Mike Knee, an engineer with UK-based manufacturer Snell, took the prize in 2008 and repeated the feat this year. The Technical Papers sessions of IBC are regarded as the top place to discuss cutting-edge developments in electronic media technology. Proposals and papers are carefully peer-reviewed before acceptance. The same committee then looks again at each paper, to choose the best of the best to receive this award. To take the honour, a paper has to push the boundaries of knowledge, and be working towards a practical application. It also has to present the findings clearly and directly. The winning paper this year was presented by Knee on Thursday, and describes work on scalable motion estimation from mobile to 4K and beyond. He received his award as part of last night’s spectacular ceremony.
‘Mike’s paper questions whether any of the multitude of motion estimation algorithms outshines all others,’ said Dr Nick Lodge, Chair of the IBC Technical Papers Committee. ‘His answer is that one size does not fit all, but with an almost philosophical approach to the problem he devises a way of combining several to new and significant effect. The paper is an entertaining read – a very worthy winner,’ he added. ‘It is a great honour to receive this award once again,’ Mike Knee said. ‘I am proud of the work that the Snell research team is doing into motion-compensated processing to support the higher frame rates needed to support 4K and beyond, as well as today’s wide range of mobile display devices.’
Head in the cloud One hot topic critical to IBC2013 is the cloud. But defining what it means, and what we can practically do with it in the big data world of electronic media, is tough. So a project which brings together academics, vendors and broadcasters to develop some practical solutions was bound to catch IBC’s eye. Vision Cloud is a European Commission FP7 research and innovation programme doing just that: creating practical and workable cloud solutions. Last night the team received an IBC Special Award for its efforts. During the course of the project, the team developed a concept which needed a new name: the ‘storlet’. This is an application which runs in the cloud, near the data. It means that cloud users can drive workflows using metadata, without needing to move big files around which would create bottlenecks and delays.
The Vision Cloud team includes Deutsche Welle and Italian national broadcaster RAI as media partners, with Engineering Ingeneria Informatica (Italy), France Telecom, IBM Haifa Research Lab, Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (Greece), iTricity (Netherlands), SAP, Siemens, SNIA Europe (UK), Swedish Institute of Computer Science, Telefónica Investigación y Desarrollo (Spain), Telenor (Norway), Umeå University (Sweden) and the University of Messina (Italy). One of the project team, Alberto Messina of RAI, pointed out the differences that media applications need, compared with general purpose storage cloud solutions. ‘Vision Cloud integrates a set of functionalities which make it seamlessly usable in media production,’ he said. ‘Among these, computational storage is certainly the most interesting,’ he explained.
‘Through this, media engineers can implement highly efficient workflows.’
The IBC Special Award was presented to Messina, along with Eliot Salant and Hillel Koldoner of IBM, by Professor David Crawford.