Thursday, 2 August, 2018 - 11:00
In a year in which artificial intelligence and machine learning became a very hot topic in the media industry, the IBC Best Conference Paper Award goes to a team from BBC R&D which has investigated practical applications. The award is made to the technical paper which, according to the team of peer reviewers, delivers not just the most significant new research, but does so in an accessible way.A large team of BBC researchers, led by Craig Wright, authored ‘AI in production: video analysis and machine learning for expanded live events coverage’. It discusses ‘Ed’, a prototype system developed by the team and used to create near-live content with minimal crew. An example might be a single operator with an 4K camera, from which ‘Ed’would produce a number of properly framed HD pictures, cutting between them as appropriate.“The point of the work is to allow coverage of more events, to reach places we otherwise could not reach,” lead author Craig Wright said. “With conventional production we can cover only six of the 100 places music is performed at the Glastonbury Festival, for example, or just a tiny fraction of the 50,000 performances in 300 venues at the Edinburgh Fringe.“But with ‘Ed’, we can reach many more of these, and do so with production techniques which are much less intrusive for the event itself,” he explained. “This technology will be suitable not just for major production companies like the BBC, but for a whole range of use cases, like minor sports which need to increase visibility, and even vloggers who want to improve their online presence.”Dr Paul Entwistle, Chair of the IBC Technical Papers Committee said “The detail in this paper is absolutely fascinating. The team has developed a machine learning system that understands the rhythms and cadences that make for professional video production. This was validated by research to see how well ‘Ed’ performs compared with a real director, and how the audience perceived the viewing experience.”The winning paper will be presented at midday on Sunday 16 September at IBC. It is part of a new innovation in the conference: a series called ‘Tech Talks’. These are integrated into the overall conference programme, to bring the innovative ideas presented in the IBC Technical Papers to all delegates in a fresh and accessible form.“Senior technologists and researchers who have been responsible for original and thought-provoking advances in media technology will talk about their own work, and audiences will have the rare opportunity to question these world experts,” said Dr Nick Lodge, Executive Producer of the IBC Conference technical sessions.“The technologies that impact the media industry are broad,” he added. “This year’s ‘Tech Talks’ will cover emerging areas like artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, 5G and blockchain.”The Best Conference Paper Award winning authors are Craig Wright, Jack Allnut, Rosie Campbell, Michael Evans, Ronan Forman, James Gibson, Stephen Jolly, Lianne Kerlin, Zuzanna Lechelt, Graeme Phillipson and Matthew Shotton, all from BBC R&D. They will be presented with their award as part of the world-class IBC Awards Ceremony during IBC, on Sunday evening 16 September at 18:30 in the RAI Auditorium.The ceremony will see the presentation of all of IBC’s awards, including the International Honour for Excellence and the IBC Innovation Awards. Attendance is free for all IBC visitors.