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An Amazing Summer

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Hannah Fraser | 18:37 UK time, Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Hi, I’m Hannah Fraser, one of BBC R&D’s Research Engineers, and for me, like many of my colleagues here in R&D and across the wider BBC, this has been an extraordinary summer.  We often have the opportunity to work with partners from elsewhere in the BBC and the wider technology industry, but this has been a particularly interesting few months- allow me to explain…

Panoramic Camera

 Panoramic Camera

 

Super Hi-Vision (SHV)

What an amazing summer. I am always excited when the Olympics come round. I had considered being a Games Maker or volunteering in some way so when the option to be involved in the Super Hi-Vision came up - in my work time - I jumped at the chance. I thought I might miss out when I had to have 6 days not available as I supported my husband and his relay team as they swam the Channel - successfully. An amazing achievement and all for charity.

 

SHV video & sound Supervisor

SHV video & sound supervisor

 

I walked away from my research desk role and to the BBC Radio Theatre. I enjoyed working in a great team. I was given the role of Video Supervisor and was able to play with the lighting at the Radio Theatre. My role was to play out Super Hi-Vision show-reel and trouble-shoot any issue this prototype system had. I only had very minor trouble-shooting to worry about and NHK were always present so issues could be dealt with together.  It was great to see each audience enjoy the shows. I was lucky enough to see the closing ceremony as a member of the audience at the Radio Theatre, my 6 year old son said “it’s like you are there for real” and it truly felt immersive with the 22.2 surround sound. There is more about Super Hi-Vision here.

 

 

SHV closing Ceremony at the BBC Radio Theatre

SHV closing Ceremony at the BBC Radio Theatre

Panoramic Camera at the BBC Proms

It is great to get away from the desk and see how thing are done elsewhere. Alongside enjoying the Super Hi-Vision I was fortunate enough to be organising another early days camera to go to one of the Proms. The camera is a panoramic camera and is the only prototype of its kind, it can see 180 degrees and is six times the resolution of HD. These experiences reinforce what an amazing place the BBC is to work at. I felt enormously privileged as we got permission to bring the prototype panoramic camera to Prom 46. The Royal Albert Hall, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Proms, Radio 3 all were amazing and so helpful in letting the camera be there. People were very interested in the camera. Many people, from the departments that we worked with to be there, saw the camera output and there were many positive comments. One such person said “This makes the Royal Albert Hall look amazing”.  Sylvia from Radio 3 wrote a blog entry.

 

Panoramic Camera

Panoramic Camera

 

The head of the camera with its mirrors to enable the creation of the 180 degree image was placed on a scaffold platform amongst the prommers. The back end was in the store downstairs where our project partners operated the camera. The camera is static and the image can be moved within, zoomed, panned, tilted by software. The feature that makes this potentially more immersive than many is that the audio pans, tilts, and zooms with the image. There are many way this could be desirable. I explained how the system worked to a member of the Proms Crew who is a drummer in his spare time. He commented that it would be great to pick out the dummer when watching bands in the TV, the drummer never gets good coverage.

We recorded the output from several of the broadcast cameras' output. We plugged in the camera outputs kindly supplied to us from the VT truck to simple recording devices. The guys in the truck were very helpful and made my recording job very easy. This is a great resource for image processing within BBC R&D.

Radio 3 kindly saved a copy of each audio track from the Prom, which I know involved working a bit later to make this copy for us. The BBC R&D audio team now have a valuable resource to play with.

The team from the FascinatE project had broken down that panoramic camera to be shipped out just after midnight (The Royal Albert Hall never sleeps I discovered). I went to meet up as the final packing was completed; the end of a couple of very long enjoyable days .

THANK YOU to the dozens of people who made this possible.

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