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Object-based broadcasting – for European leadership in next generation audio experiences

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ORPHEUS (Object-based broadcasting – for European leadership in next generation audio experiences)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2018-05-31

The production and distribution of broadcast content in the future will be object- and IP-based. The content will be get enriched with additional information, the metadata. Already today, consumers access media content in different environments (3D loudspeaker setup at home, mobile in the car, on personal devices with binaural headphone reproduction on the go). The audience will expect the adaptability of the audio reproduction and additional information to these different situations and requirements.
The ORPHEUS project does not handle single spots in this changing media eco-system. It considers the complete audio broadcast chain, from the capturing, through production and distribution until reception by the end-user. Only by bridging all technical gaps, the media chain can be completed and the full system can work properly.
Different specific use cases developed out of existing broadcast formats show new opportunities and the enriched experiences for end-users. These can be realized with ORPHEUS’ newly defined pilot architecture, showing the adaptability of existing broadcast technology to object-based production. By defining and publishing the details how to setup such a broadcast chain as reference architecture, other broadcasters and broadcast industry suppliers can set up similar chains and contribute with compatible solutions. Using open international standards, the compatibility of this and future solutions will be assured, as well as obstructing and expensive industry standards are avoidable.
For the start, the definition of use cases specified detailed targets and defined a lot of technical details and envisioned user experiences. This process includes ongoing international standardization activities by several partners on the ADM metadata format, MPEG-H audio format and a reference renderer for object-based audio. Several standards were revised and extended with the knowledge build up during the project.
First, the definition of the pilot architecture of the broadcast chain was achieved. With this experience the system architecture was defined and revised twice in light of the interim results of pilot implementations during the project. This system architecture definition attracted directly attention and was published in a condensed version as EBU tech report 042. The two conducted pilots demonstrated and proved the developed concept and showed the integration of the different production tools, the different distribution possibilities and the different reproduction devices: audio-video receiver (AVR), iOS app and browser. As production tools established tools (DAW Sequoia from Magix) or new developed VST-plugins for capturing from b<>com and FHG, rendering and object decimation from IRT and IRCAM were developed or extended to produce and handle the necessary object-based audio (OBA) features and ADM metadata.
The newly standardized object-based audio codec MPEG-H, its encoder, decoder, and various production tools (including the renderer) have been delivered by FHG to the partners. Work on the metadata file format ADM itself, a serialized version of it, and the streaming format DASH was successfully finished. The integration of these components into the IP Studio software of the BBC, the digital audio workstation (DAW) Sequoia of Magix, the iPhone App from ECandy and the audio video receiver (AVR) of Trinnov was successfully finalized. Plugins for capturing multichannel microphone recordings and transforming them for different loudspeaker layouts have been developed by B<>COM and FHG and implemented in VST-plugins. An object-based reverberation algorithm has been developed and evaluated by IRCAM. A detailed study on user interface design for an iPhone radio app was completed and yield into the implementation of the ORPHEUS iOS app. This app was used and further improved throughout the project. It includes all OBA features tested in ORPHEUS and was demoed at numerous exhibitions and workshops. It is available on request over the B2B AppStore.
Already with the first presentations and demos of the project, e.g. at Tonmeistertagung Cologne 2016, demonstrating the new possibilities of object-based broadcasting received broad attention. ORPHEUS made significant contributions to standardisations. Dissemination activities were well targeted and very successful with respect to an industry audience, with prominent presence at major industry and trade events. The project partners conducted or participated in quite a number of workshops and demos at e.g. EBU, BBC, IBC, NAB and at the final project workshop with 120 external participants at the IRT in Munich in May 2018.
Two more European broadcasters (Swedish Radio and TV France) have joined the project as associate partners without any funding. This shows the great interest and impact that ORPHEUS results are expected to have.