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While UHD channels are launching worldwide this year supported by production kit available on the IBC exhibition floor, the next stages in an enhanced audio-visual experience are under investigation. Sound is arguably the missing component of 4K/UHD upgrades. Most broadcasters, it is feared, will be content to compromise with 5.1 surround, an HD standard. “It's too big a risk to renew already costly infrastructure and further stretch the know-how of daily workflows,” asserts Clemens Par, CEO, Swissaudec. “UHD audio seems likely to remain a cinema domain.” Not if broadcasters adopt Par's invention – a codec which broadcasts 22.2 surround format and is backwards compatible with HD. High Dynamic Range (HDR) clearly provides an enhanced viewing experience but you may have to watch in a dark room to fully appreciate it. “The reason is that TVs currently marketed as HDR do not, in fact, provide an overall brighter image,” says Alan Chalmers, who heads TrueDR. His solution, on display in the Future Zone, marries a novel codec with a 10,000nit display claimed as the first ever shown - anywhere. French lab b-com debuts a prototype for performing Standard Dynamic Range to HDR conversions and also brings a forensic watermarking solution for protecting 4K and HDR video.

VR innovations There's a special focus on VR and AR technology and production methodology in the Future Zone this year. Stitching video from multiple cameras or sensors to create a 360-degree panoramic movie on-the-fly is one of the main bottlenecks of such production. A demonstration by Argon360 aims to show that this stitching can happen on a chip in the camera with no further complication. Streaming sports in VR may offer the next best experience to being present at the event, but what's so good about not being able to chat with friends next to you? New York-based developer LiveLike is launching a social sharing app for VR.  "In the VIP lounge of our app users can see an avatar of a person and talk to them as if they were next to you,” explains Andre Lorenceau, founder and CEO. The audio portion of a VR experience is as important as the visuals in helping viewers navigate and storyteller's narrate which is why b-com has devised a means to apply High Order Ambisonic audio to VR content. Plus, you can go hands-on with a claimed world's first solution to remotely moving and stabilising 360-degree cameras in the form of the 360° Evo from Motion Impossible. Customised broadcasts IP technologies and OTT streaming is enabling ever greater interactivity and personalisation of media, a clear trend in Future Zone activity. BBC R&D, for example, is bringing Cook-Along-Kitchen-Experience (CAKE) a real-time, interactive cookery show that changes as you cook with it using a mix of AV and text. This is the broadcaster's first wholly object-based experiment from production to experience.

Pressing a 'red button' to view alternative camera angles can be a painful process, leading to delays before the new video starts but Minglvision's software – trialled during Formula 1 races – permits users to switch between angles with a claimed zero latency. Socialising Around Media, or SAM, is about content finding the user’s second screen through syndication. The EU-funded project aims to change the “inactive viewer” into a “proactive prosumer” with social media interaction and decision making on content. Project Dreamspace's ambition “is to make it possible for directors, designers and artists to build experiences directly from visual components, working together on set or in the performance space, and see the results immediately,” explains Sara Coppola, project manager, The Foundry.

The EC-funded consortium will showcase the results of its first year’s work, which focused on the technical components necessary to enable virtual production. 3D, VR or UHD are all ways to bring a more immersive experience of live events to the living room but NTT Laboratories has floated a concept that will enable viewers to experience the feeling of actually being in a sporting venue. It calls its immersive public viewing approach 'telepresence' and is targeting it for readiness by 2020. See it first, along with the latest in NHK Super Hi-Vision, at the IBC Future Zone.

Extended Early Bird ends 19th August - Register now your free exhibition pass! 

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