Archives for October 2012

Last chance to try Breaking Out, before its too late

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Ian Forrester Ian Forrester | 11:00 UK time, Thursday, 25 October 2012

Over the past few months we have been running our Perceptive Media prototype at

Many of you have experienced our first perceptive media audio play "Breaking out" online and we thank you for taking the time to do so.

Before we close it down and run through the many results, we wanted to ask one again if you haven't fill in the feedback form now is a really good time to do so.

The Perceptive media can be applied in many different ways. Because of this we have been talking at different conferences to very different audiences about Perceptive Media. (You can see a selection of the presentations online

From Web developers at Canvas Conf to narrative writers at the London Transmedia festival. Radio producers at the Radio Festival to the Publishing industry at the Oreilly tools of change conference. All are interested in the concept and possibilities.

Our focus is still on making it work for broadcasting but its been fascinating thinking about how it could change publishing and other media industries.

The research questions remain the same and we will be working on other aspects of the concept in the near future. But for now, you might enjoy the higher level overview perceptive media talk at TedxBristol...

Hopefully enough to encourage you to give it a try yourself or send it to friends and family using the sharing buttons on the site.

Teen Tech Coventry

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Rosie Campbell Rosie Campbell | 12:20 UK time, Tuesday, 23 October 2012

I am not a morning person. Waking up at 5.30am to get to the Ricoh Arena in time to set up our demos for Teen Tech was painful.

Despite feeling like zombies, we made it there only a little behind schedule and promptly began assembling our stall. There were five of us: me from R&D, Ulrich from BBC Academy, and James, John and Darren, three regional broadcast engineers based in Birmingham.

In case you’re not familiar with it, Teen Tech is the brainchild of Maggie Philbin and Chris Dodson, and attempts to inspire young people to consider careers in technology. It’s a bit like a careers fair - a large room in which companies set up stalls demoing interesting technology, and the school children move from stall to stall interacting with the demos and talking to the scientists and engineers behind them. Maggie led the day, conducting both the welcome session for the students and the debrief. She is a wonderful host and clearly incredibly passionate about Teen Tech – and its continuing success is a testament to this.

Maggie talks to the school students

Maggie talks to the school students

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IRFS Weeknotes #127

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Andrew Nicolaou | 14:46 UK time, Monday, 22 October 2012

This week Vicky's been talking with the team and thinking about the issues and opportunities associated with our theme of "Playful Internet of Things (IoT) Futures" to generate topics for discussion at the IoT workshop event in November.

If you're interested in taking part in the event, please get in touch with us saying why you're interested in the IoT and what you hope to get out of the event.

Attendees include LEGO, Ogilvy Labs; the Science Museum; SODA; BBC Worldwide; Hasbro; Symplio; Uniform; Goldsmiths; Dundee University; Ravensbourne; Manchester Met Uni & Liverpool John Moores University.

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First annual conference of the BBC Audio Research Partnership

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Frank Melchior | 17:00 UK time, Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Hi, my name is Frank Melchior and I’m head of audio research at BBC R&D. I’m also responsible for the BBC Audio Research Partnership and after one year of inspiring and fruitful collaboration I like to report about our first annual conference in MediaCityUK last September. Two days packed with keynotes, a poster session, brainstorming sessions, a panel discussion and flashlight presentations of the partners has given the opportunity to exchange ideas and develop new collaborations within this unique new way of working together. The BBC Audio Research Partnership was launched in 2011 and the video below will give an introduction to the idea of the partnership and the anniversary event.

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IRFS Weeknotes #126

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Chris Godbert | 09:15 UK time, Wednesday, 17 October 2012

I'm not sure we've managed anything quite as exciting as impressing Dick Mills this week but there's still loads of interesting work going on. Here are some of the highlights.

On their second week working together, the VistaTV sprint team of Libby, Andrew W, Anthony O, Chris Newell and Dan put the finishing touches on their first working prototype.

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Companion screen services - one year on

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Jerry Kramskoy Jerry Kramskoy | 19:00 UK time, Monday, 15 October 2012

 It's been a long time since the last series of blogs on Orchestrated Media.  Time for a catch-up.  Firstly, we've stopped using the term orchestrated media, and instead talk about dual-screen and companionscreen.  Dual-screen reflects where things stand currently: the companion service can synchronise against the broadcast content using various technologies. See Steve's blog about that. The BBC's launch of dual screen for  Antiques Roadshow is imminent.

Looking ahead, we see the next generation of services allowing a wider set of companion services, where the TV, the companion, and the Web, are inter-communicating, allowing a web site or a companion app to both monitor and control the TV.  This gives TV -awareness on web-sites, and web-awareness of TV services.  Each of these three domains could be the launch-point for companion screen services, and enage the other two domains as needed.  Companion screen pertains to this wider role for the companion device, compared to today.

Interaction layer APIs or something else? 

We strongly believe that something else is needed for engaging companion experiences with the broadcaster's content, where the audience can socialise around the content and interact with it in a variety of ways.

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Little Sun - Little Film

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Matthew Brooks | 11:10 UK time, Monday, 15 October 2012

The Little Sun installation created by BBC R&D in conjunction with Studio Olafur Eliasson recently came to a close at the Tate Modern, having entertained over 10,000 visitors. If you missed the exhibition, or would like to know more about it, we've produced a short film to fill you in. If you want to know more after watching it, you can also check my previous blog post.

Enjoy the film!


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Digital HD Radio Camera: Taking halfRF to IBC

Hi, I'm John Boyer of the Distribution Core Technology team here in BBC R&D, and this year our group took the 'halfRF' digital high definition radio camera to the IBC broadcast technology exhibition and conference in Amsterdam to launch it to the industry.  The technology was well recieved, but it's absolutely cutting edge stuff, and getting it ready for a high performance demonstration at a major show such as IBC is far from straight forward.  In this post I'll explain why the project started, state of progress at the start of the show planning process, and the amazing work our team acheived to get it into action last month in Amsterdam.
Members of the halfRF team demo the technology on the EBU stand at IBC

Members of the halfRF team demo the technology on the EBU stand at IBC

So, why are we doing this project al all?  Radio spectrum is a valuable and finite commodity- there is simply only so much radio frequency space available.  These days many more organisations and companies want a share of that spectrum.  Once upon a time TV and Radio broadcasting and radio links for video/ audio contribution links were rare and had relatively uncontested use of the airwaves in key frequencies.  Nowadays though, with the rapid growth of mobile digital services, that same spectrum is under high demand, and governments around the world are carefully managing the licensing of it for different applications.  As the popularity of high quality radio links for program making has increased, so too the move to High Definition (HD) video has also created a demand for yet more data and hence more pressure still on the spectrum.

BBC R&D recognised that something needed to be done and three years ago we created the Advanced RF for HD Radio Cameras project to look at RF (radio frequency) techniques that could be used to make radio cameras more spectrally efficient.  Our aim has been to use techniques such as MIMO (Multiple In Multiple Out) to create a system that uses half the spectrum compared with current commercial systems, both standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD).

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QMUL's academic intern Shauna Concannon shares her work on the World Service archive prototype

Theo Jones | 14:53 UK time, Wednesday, 10 October 2012

This blog post is written by Shauna Concannon to summarise the findings of the World Service tagging experiment, run by BBC R&D this summer.

Alt text

Shauna Concannon recently completed a 5 month academic internship with BBC R&D as part of her studies on the EPSRC funded Media & Arts Technology PhD programme at Queen Mary University of London. During her time with R&D, Shauna has contributed to our exploration to improve the metadata of large audio archives and how we might encourage users to help us do that.

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IRFS Weeknotes #125

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Chris Lowis Chris Lowis | 16:04 UK time, Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Welcome to weeknotes #125! As a couple of projects come to a natural break we've had time this week to do a few things a bit out-of-the-ordinary.

Libby and Chris Newell have been following up their VistaTV workshop by taking some of the ideas the team generated and working up a few quick prototypes. Dan, Andrew W and Ant were drafted in to help and following a productive couple of days have created a variation of the classic EPG that reflects the popularity of a programme. The team have now started to experiment with some of the other ideas from the workshop.

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IRFS Weeknotes #124

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George Wright George Wright | 10:52 UK time, Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Picture of new DG at FM conference

We moved offices this week, away from clunky-but-lovely Henry Wood House, to shiny and modern West London. This disrupted us for around 20 minutes and then we got on with researching and invented the future (with a bit of dissemination and meet-the-colleagues on the side.)

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