Research & Development

Over the years, BBC Research and Development and its forerunners have been recognised by their peers as making major contributions to the world of broadcasting. One of the most tangible measures of this recognition is the variety and quality of awards that we have received.

SMPTE - Digital Processing Medal Award

SMPTE 2021

Awarded to Nick Wells in recognition of a long career at the BBC, developing solutions dependent on a deep understanding of digital signal processing, including DPCM-based video compression, sampling of PAL and NTSC TV signals, the lossless re-coding of MPEG2 signals and helping to develop the MXF format.

Webbys - People’s Voice Award: Animation (Immersive and Mixed Reality)

IADAS 2020

BBC Virtual Reality experience Dr Who: The Runaway was produced for the BBC by Passion Pictures in collaboration with BBC VR Hub, Drama Production (Wales) and R&D's David Johnston (BBC Reality Labs).

Connies - The Premium TV Award: Silver

Mediatel 2019

Our live UHD streaming trial at the Wimbledon and the 2018 World Cup won this silver award.

The BBC World Cup 2018 presenting team in the Moscow studio.

What Hi-Fi - Innovation of the Year

What Hi-Fi 2018

This year's Summer of Sport UHD trials at the World Cup and Wimbledon earned us What Hi-Fi magazine's award for developments in audio and video.

Craig Wright and David Johnston on stage at the IBC Awards with their trophies.

IBC Awards - Best Paper and Special Award

IBC 2018

BBC R&D won two awards at the 2018 show - our work on Artificial Intelligence in Production picked up the award for Best Paper conference paper for their publication on a prototype system for covering video streaming live events.

We also received a second award, shared with the BBC VR Hub for our work on our Civilisations AR app which accompanied the BBC Two series, and the Hub's Damning the Nile experience.

The EBU ADM Renderer team with their 2018 EBU Technology & Innovation Award

EBU Technology & Innovation Award

EBU 2018

Our audio research team were part of a collaboration which won the EBU's Technology and Innovation award for an Audio Definition Model Renderer - a data model for describing audio experiences which can be thought of as a file format for storing next-generation audio content.

Video Compression

IEEE - Best Paper Award

IEEE 2017

BBC R&D's video coding team were part of an H.265/HEVC verification group which received the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology Best Paper Award for the paper “Video Quality Evaluation Methodology and Verification Testing of HEVC Compression Performance”.

The Turning Forest

TVB Awards - Achievement in Sound

TVB Europe 2016

The team behind The Turning Forest won an award for it's use of binaural audio.

IBC Award for Best Conference Paper

IBC 2015

Tim Borer and Andrew Cotton were awarded Best Conference Paper at IBC for their paper "A display independent high dynamic range television system".

DTG Collaboration Award

Digital TV Group 2015

The Collaboration Award, for companies that put aside commercial differences to succeed together, was given to Phil Layton’s team for their collaborative efforts both in the UK and worldwide.

Queen's Award for contribution to the Piero sports graphics system

Queen's Award for Enterprise 2011

The Production Magic team at BBC R&D has been working on new techniques and applications of computer-based image processing for TV production for many years. Some of this work was recognised in the form of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the "Innovation" category, for their contribution to the Piero sports graphics system.

RTS Young Technologist of the Year

Royal Television Society 2010

Tony Churnside was awarded RTS Young Technologist of the Year for his work in ambisonics, creating 3D audio mixes, and accessibility. The award enabled him to attend IBC.

RTS “Raising The Bar” Award for Ingex

Royal Television Society 2009

Phil Tudor led the team that received the award for Ingex, Automated Tapeless Production.
The Ingex system brings the huge advantages of tapeless production to multicamera programme making. Controlled from the production gallery, the system records all the studio feeds and stores them directly to disk.

RTS “Under the Bonnet Award” for DVB-T2

Royal Television Society 2009

BBC R&D won for DVB-T2 (Freeview HD) - the new terrestrial standard for Digital Video Broadcasting which enables HD on Freeview - which "will transform the viewing experience of millions... and keeps Britain in the forefront of the digital revolution"

IBC Innovation Award for Piero Sports Graphics project

IBC 2006

Piero is a system for generating virtual views of sporting events and adding 'tied-to-pitch' graphics. Piero won the IBC Innovation Award for Innovative Application of Technology in Content Creation, as well as the Cable and Satellite Product of the Year Award for Best Outside Broadcast Technology or Service.

RTS Lifetime Achievement Award to Chris Clarke

Royal Television Society 2005

A Lifetime Achievement award was presented to Chris Clarke of the BBC’s Research & Development Department. At the Royal Television Society’s Technology Awards. In the 1970s Chris' work on digital PAL decoding and on TV standards conversion made possible a worldwide agreement on digital video standards. In the 1990s Chris led the team at BBC R&D that made the first DTT transmitter and receiver.

Development Team Award to BBC R&D's Interactive Services Team

Royal Television Society 2005

The 2005 RTS Research and Development Team Award was awarded to BBC R&D's Interactive Services Team. The Team, led by Jeff Hunter, received their award at the awards ceremony held on Thursday, 8th December at Bafta in London.

RTS Judges Award for R&D's election graphics

Royal Television Society 2005

The RTS is a major force in broadcasting in the UK. It recognises excellence in all the disciplines of broadcasting. Of special relevance to BBC R&D are the technical awards, frequently announced at the time of the annual Shonberg lecture.

IBC Conference Award Technical Papers: the excellence prize

IBC 2005

This prize was awarded to Adam Wiewiorka and Peter Moss from BBC R&D Department for their paper 'Digital on-channel repeater for DAB'. The on-channel repeater retransmits a signal on the same frequency as it receives, so that no frequency translation is required, as is the case in traditional rebroadcast or retransmission system.

Pro-MPEG wins RTS Technology Judges' Award 2004

Royal Television Society 2004

The Royal Television Society's Technical Innovation Awards 2004 were presented on Monday, 1 November 2004 at the Cavendish Conference Centre in London. The RTS Technical Award Jury elected the Pro-MPEG Forum as the winner of the Judges' Award, for its 'outstanding contribution to the advancement of digital broadcasting'. Nick Wells, chairman of the Forum and Jim Wilkinson, one of the principal architects of the MXF format, were present to receive the award which was presented by David Lowen, honorary secretary of the RTS.

Jeff Hunter wins the RTS Young Person's Technology Award

Royal Television Society 2002

BBC Research & Development Department's Jeff Hunter has been awarded the Royal Television Society London Centre's Young Person's Technology Award for his major contribution to the development of Interactive Television systems for the BBC's digital television services on all delivery platforms.

Queen's Award for the Digital TV chip

Queen's Award for Enterprise 2001

BBC Research & Development and LSI Logic, a leading designer and manufacturer of communications and storage semiconductors, have received the highly prestigious Queen's Award for Industry in the category of Innovation for a jointly developed single-chip digital terrestrial television (DTT) demodulator.

RTS Award for Radio Camera Technology

Royal Television Society 2001

Cutting edge radio camera technology developed in-house is set to transform programme making and pave the way for the cordless studio. In a world first, a team in BBC R&D has developed a lightweight box containing a transmitter chip that can be attached to the back of digital cameras, enabling them to work without cables.

Prototypes of the equipment, which won the Royal Television Society award for technical innovation, have been tried in parts of the BBC. R&D is now working with manufacturer Gigawave on developing the model for the commercial market.

RTS Best Engineering Innovation Award to Spectrum Planning Group

Royal Television Society 2001

A team from Spectrum Planning Group, BBC Research & Development were recognised for their work on digital television on Saturday, 20 October at the RTS Southern Centre Awards. The team, based at Kingswood Warren, shared the Best Engineering Innovation award with their partners in the Joint Frequency Planning Project.

The award recognised the work put into 'multiplex coverage equalisation', a vast piece of work which attempts to re-plan the frequencies used by digital terrestrial television, with the goal of improving the coverage of the UK network without using any more sites.

Emmy Award for outstanding achievement in technological advancement

Emmy 2001

The BBC has been awarded a prestigious Emmy by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for "outstanding achievement in technological advancement".

Presented at a Gala ceremony at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City, the award recognises the pioneering work of the BBC's Research & Development department in the late 1980's on high-definition up-conversion, a process which enables broadcasters to convert programmes made in standard definition format to the new high-definition format which is being increasingly used, especially in the United States.

RTS Award for the contribution to the development of digital terrestrial television

Royal Television Society 2000

This year the RTS Judges’ Award for technical innovation was given to the BBC DTT technical team for their contribution to the development of digital terrestrial television.

The BBC took the lead in developing the technology for digital television to guarantee that it could deliver public service programmes to the widest possible audience. The work was carried out by a team working mainly at BBC R&D, but which included others in many BBC Departments.

RTS Innovative Applications Award for Assisted Subtitling

Royal Television Society 2000

Assisted Subtitling won the RTS Award for Innovative Applications. We were joint recipients along with BBC Subtitling, 20/20 Speech Ltd., and Softel Ltd. The project embraced fundamental research and showed how it could be applied to real problems and lead to real products in the market.

Both 20/20 Speech Ltd, and Softel Ltd were involved in the project, developing a system which combines together text analysis, speech recognition, shot change detection and other techniques to help in the preparation of subtitles.

Justin Mitchell is Young Technologist of the Year

Royal Television Society 2000

Justin Mitchell, 28, led the BBC Research and Development team that designed the prototype receiver chips for digital terrestrial television set-top boxes. Launched in April 1998, the chips set the industry standard, becoming the market leader for consumer and professional use.

IBC Award for Engineer of the Year

IBC 2000

The award recognised John Sykes’ outstanding contribution to the development of digital broadcasting in Britain and around the world. Sykes, who is head of Transmission Systems Group, R&D, has been at the forefront of the development of digital television and radio since their beginnings in the 1980s, working with international bodies on standards for both analogue and digital technology.

IEE's JJ Thomson Memorial Prize for MPEG-2 video compression paper

IEE 1999

Phil Tudor has won the IEE's JJ Thomson Memorial Prize. This award is in recognition of his paper on 'MPEG-2 video compression' which was published in the December 1995 issue of the IEE's Electrical and Communications Engineering Journal.

The paper gives a comprehensive overview of the techniques involved in MPEG-2 video compression, the type of compression to be used in the BBC's digital television services. This paper is the pinnacle of the wide range of information about MPEG-2 video compression available from Kingswood Warren.

Best television presentation of a stage dance at "Dance Screen 99"

Award 1999

A BBC/Playback HD production won the award for best television presentation of a stage dance at "Dance Screen 99" in Cologne recently. BBC R&D provided technical facilities for this event. The HD production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was voted best in a category where more than 100 programmes competed. It was given a special showing in HD using one of the best cinema HD projectors available (although delegates voted on the basis of VHS copies viewed in a special room).

IBC Award for Achievement in Acquisition

IBC 1999

BBC R&D and Playback HD won the IBC Award for Achievement in Acquisition for the making of "Cecilia and Bryn at Glyndebourne" in HD.

Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli and bass-baritone Bryn Terfel gave a concert at Glyndebourne opera house, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Myung-Whyn Chung. The BBC and Playback HD decided to make "Cecilia and Bryn at Glyndebourne" in 1250-line HD to celebrate the event's significance.

IBC Award for the DTT Mobile Service

IBC 1999

Jointly with our MOTIVATE partners we won the IBC Award for the DTT Mobile Service. At IBC '99 our MOTIVATE partners Nozema, Deutsche Telekom and NDS, equipped a tram route between the central station and the RAI centre with a mobile DVB-T receiver, demonstrating the effectiveness of the DVB-T technology in a mobile environment.

IBC Award for Acquisition Technology

IBC 1999

BBC R&D with BBC Smart Productions won the IBC Award for Acquisition Technology. BBC R&D won this award for its novel approach to multi-camera, cable-free programme acquisition.

The judges applauded this clever approach to acquisition for making a wide range of benefits available to producers at a manageable cost. These include reduced crew sizes, shorter rigging time, innovative new camera positions and general improvements in safety.

IBC Launch of the Year Award for BBC Digital Services

IBC 1999

The BBC won the IBC Launch of the Year award for its commitment to new technology. In addition to the launch of core services BBC 1 and BBC 2, on DSat and DTT, the corporation also launched innovative new channels such as BBC Choice, BBC Knowledge, BBC News 24 and BBC Parliament.

As a public service broadcaster, it was important for it to ensure a new technical architecture was devised that could support the BBC's commitment to digital at a regional level. It was also vital that the BBC's news and information support services were upgraded for the advent of digital. As a result, the BBC introduced the world's first MHEG-based Digital Text service as a successor to Teletext.

Emmy Award for Sound in Syncs

Emmy 1999

Nearly 30 years after its completion, the BBC's sound distribution technology, Sound in Syncs, has won an Emmy. Three of the engineers who worked on the project in the late 1960s -- the department's head of Business and Engineering, John Astle, and former Kingswood Warren colleagues Chris Dalton and Colin Spicer -- collected the prized trophy at a ceremony in New York.

Sound in Syncs (SiS) -- the digital television sound transmission system used between studios and transmitters -- was in BBC service for more than 15 years from 1970 and adopted by many other broadcasters. It enabled sound and picture signals to be combined. It revolutionised the distribution of television sound across national and international networks.

Queen's Award for the development of a standards converter

Queen's Award for Enterprise 1998

The BBC has been awarded its sixth Queen's Award to Industry for Technical Innovation. Awarded jointly with Snell & Wilcox Ltd, the award was granted for the development of a standards converter -- a technology that has contributed to the exchange of television programmes between Europe and the US.

RTS Award for technical innovation on camera tracking systems

Royal Television Society 1998

At the Royal Television Society Technical Innovation Awards ceremony, held at BAFTA in London on Monday 9th November, the BBC won the Innovative Application Award for its "free-d" camera tracking system. This system, which recently won the "Most Innovative Achievement in Production" award at IBC '98, is a new way of measuring the position and orientation of a camera, for use with Virtual Production systems. Unlike other systems, it places no constraints on camera mountings or scene content, and can be used in very large studios. The system has been licensed to Radamec Broadcast Systems.

IBC Audio R&D Engineer of the Year Award

IBC 1998

David Kirby won the IBC Audio R&D Engineer of the Year Award for being a major influence in audio engineering for more than a decade.

Having started work on audio editing systems, Kirby moved on to assess the use of multichannel sound in broadcasting. Later, he co-ordinated tests which led to the acceptance of MPEG Advanced Audio Coding as a new international standard.

IBC Video R&D Engineer of the Year Award

IBC 1998

Mike Knee and Snell & Wilcox shared the IBC Video R&D Engineer of the Year Award.

The judges found it impossible to split two entries which were for contributions to the same field of activity. Nick Wells and Mike Knee's work were both concerned with ways to prevent quality loss caused by the cascading of compression processing.

IBC Virtual Studio Award

IBC 1998

BBC shared the IBC Virtual Studio Award with BBC Resources for being pioneers in virtual production.

This year's award for production innovation recognised two particular developments: Free-d and Truematte. Free-d is a way of measuring the position and orientation of a camera in a large studio without interfering with normal operations. Truematte is a new reflective background cloth for chromakey which eliminates the problems of colour spill and the need for uniform bright lighting.

RTS Award for the MOLE

Royal Television Society 1997

The Royal Television Society research and development award for 1997 has been won by the MOLE™ entered jointly by BBC Research & Development and Snell & Wilcox.

The MOLE™ is an invention within the ATLANTIC Project to facilitate cascaded MPEG audio and video decoding and recoding.

IBC Editor's Award For Technological Achievement

IBC 1997

Rhys Lewis won the IBC Editor's Award for Technological Achievement for developing Digital Terrestrial TV.

Lewis played a major role in developing and improving DAB broadcast network interfaces, and was instrumental in developing the now universal DAB Ensemble Transport Interface (ETI). He also led the BBC team which developed the first practical DAB signal distribution system using switched telecommunications circuits - followed by leadership of ETSI's ETI project team.

IBC Editor's Award For Technological Achievement

IBC 1997

The BBC won the IBC Editor's Award for Technological Achievement for its trial network in Newcastle and London. 

Using BBC R&D-designed DVB-T COFDM modulators and demodulators, the BBC trial network has been tested with ATM links and cross-strapped streams via (DVB-S) satellites that downlinked to terrestrial transmitters for re-broadcast with regional opt-ins. DVB was a splendid example of pan-industry collaboration, but it takes guts and money to actually build and test the stuff. 

Emmy Outstanding Achievement in Technological Development Award

Emmy 1997

BBC R&D received an award for Outstanding Achievement in Technological Development from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, otherwise known as the Engineering Emmy for our work on motion detection in digital television processing.

Emmy Award for Digital Technology

Emmy 1996

The BBC won this Emmy for work carried out in the 1980s on the error feedback system for reducing unwanted quantisation effects in limited accuracy digital signal processing.

IBC International Broadcast & Television Buyer Award

IBC 1994

R&D won the International Broadcast & Television Buyer Award for "the most innovative transmission solution" for its work on the high power London DAB Experiment.

Queen's Award for NICAM 728

Queen's Award for Enterprise 1992

In April of 1992 BBC Engineering received the Queen's Award for Technological Achievement, in recognition of the Research Department's development of the NICAM 728 digital stereo sound system for television.

NICAM 728 was first introduced to the public (on an experimental basis) in the summer of 1986. In September 1986 the NICAM specification was accepted by the government as the UK standard, and the following year was recommended by the EBU as the European standard for digital sound with television. In the UK the full service was introduced on the 31st of August 1991, and by 1992 was available to 78% of the population. Other countries who adopted the system included Norway, Sweden, Hong Kong, Denmark, Finland, Spain, Belgium, New Zealand, and Singapore.

What Hi-Fi Grand Prix for NICAM 728

Award 1989

BBC was awarded the "What Hi-Fi" Grand Prix for its digital stereo sound with television system NICAM 728.

Queen's Award for LF Radio Teleswitching

Queen's Award for Enterprise 1987

In April 1987 BBC Engineering received their fourth Queen's Award, on this occasion jointly with the Electricity Council, for their pioneering work in developing Radio Teleswitching.

Radio teleswitching was an offshoot of what, to broadcasters, was a much more important system - RDS. For a long time it was known that listeners to radio often had trouble finding their way around an analogue tuning dial, particularly on portable receivers and VHF-FM car radios. By 1988 the system was fully standardised and launched across the UK and Europe.

IBC Award

IBC 1984

Dr. Geoffrey Philips, Head of Radio Frequency Group, was presented with the first ever IBC Award at the International Broadcasting Convention, Brighton, in recognition of his acclaimed work over thirty years in fostering the efficient use of the radio spectrum.

Queen's Award for Teletext

Queen's Awards for Enterprise 1983

Queen's Award for Teletext (with the Independent Broadcasting Authority).

Queen's Award for Sound-in-Syncs

Queen's Awards for Enterprise 1974

Jointly awarded to Research and Designs department.

Geoffrey Parr Award for the Sound-in-Syncs system

Royal Television Society 1972

The Geoffrey Parr Award jointly to Dr. C.J. Dalton and J.R. Sanders for their work in developing the Sound-in-Syncs system.

Queen's Award for Field Store Standards Converter

Queen's Awards for Enterprise 1969

Jointly awarded to Research and Designs department.

Geoffrey Parr Award for outstanding work in the development of the field-store television standards converter

Royal Television Society 1969

The Geoffrey Parr Award was received by E.R. Rout and his team for outstanding work in the development of the field-store television standards converter.

Geoffrey Parr Award for inventing TARIF

Royal Television Society 1968

The Geoffrey Parr Award was received by C.B.B. Wood and his team for inventing TARIF - an electronic colour correction system for colour film.