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DDD60 - High Quality VR for FilmTV industry professionals

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DDD60 (DDD60 - High Quality VR for FilmTV industry professionals)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2018-06-30

The objective of DDD60 was to deliver High-Quality VR for Film & TV industry professionals.

While the creatives are developing the craft of creating 360° films, some major obstacles for the distribution of VR content remain: Industry standards are absent or just appearing, distribution workflows have not yet been developed and above all, the files of 360° films are huge. And since the internet infrastructure does not grow as quickly as the size of VR files, content distributors, in an effort to minimize file size, have to greatly reduce the quality of the content they show – if they can show it at all.

DDD60 has greatly enhanced the quality of VR content: By improving compression technology and cloud transcoding mechanisms, the size of the files and the amount of information to be delivered through the internet or local networks has been reduced greatly, giving festivals, markets and distributors the chance to deliver higher quality 360° films. By improving storage and delivery workflows the efficiency and the cost for delivery will be reduced to an extent that will make the online screenings of VR content a viable business for European SMEs. By publishing guides on the creation and distribution of 360° films we are educating the creators of the Film & TV industry, and are contributing to the adoption of standard workflows.

By the end of the project on the 30th June 2018 we have achieved these goals:

With a new H.265 video encoder we achieved bitrate reduction of 37.4% and 52.5 % for 360° films in comparison to x265 and x264 respectively, the most widely used video encoders for internet applications.
Calls for submission of 360° films were launched by DDD60 with subsequent upload of 360° films. A total of approx. 212 films was submitted and delivered in 360° for DDD60.
Four onsite 360° film libraries at some of the most prominent festivals and markets of all the industry were held.
DDD60 industry guides help the industry to create 360° films and distribute them to film festivals and markets.

Thus, with slight variations in the more detailed project plan, we achieved all our objectives within the project duration.
The DDD60 project has reached noticeable advancements in transcoding, distribution, and screening of 360° video content. The main outcomes of the project include:

- H.265 encoder for 360° video: The Spin Digital H.265 software encoder has been extended with new algorithmic optimizations and tools aiming at encoding 360° video at higher quality and lower bandwidth and file size. Compared to x265 and x264, widely used open source video encoders, the Spin Digital HEVC encoder achieves an average bitrate reduction of 37.4% and 52.5% respectively, for the same objective quality and encoding speed.

- Submission Form for 360° films: In collaboration with Spin Digital as well as with the festival and market partners reelport created a submission form with specific metadata for VR films.
Cloud Transcoding: Reelport introduced the Spin Digital Software Encoder into it’s cloud encoding engine. 360° encoding can now be selected as one of the various encoding formats that reelport clients can choose from.

- Onsite & Online Library: The most important development was the upgrade of reelport’s onsite and online libraries for industry professionals. The libraries are the place where sellers showcase their content and buyers review the content that they might want to buy.
360° App: The 360° VR libraries are flanked by an App that is able to play films in H.265 format according to a pre-configured playlist.

Immersive Content Guidelines: In DDD60 we created two types of content guidelines:
- Guidelines for master file creation of 360° films: The guidelines aim to help 360° content creators to prepare master files with the highest possible quality for submission to film festivals, markets, VoD platforms, and distributors.
- Guidelines for distribution file creation and playback of 360° films: These guidelines aim at providing service providers a set of recommendations on how to transcode from the master file to files for distribution and playback while preserving the maximum quality of the original content.
The original expected results are:
- Compression Technology: DDD60 expected to deliver advanced compression and transcoding technology for VR content to the creative industries in general, and to the Film & TV world in particular.
- SME business models: DD60 planned to create an infrastructure that will enable new business models around VR content
- Market demand: DDD60 expected to deliver a solution for the needs of the Film and TV industry.
- Market ready: DDD60 expected to create a solution that is not only market ready, but will be directly applied in the market.

Progress beyond the state-of-the-art

- Encoder: In DDD60 we enhanced the Spin Digital H.265 software encoder with special support for 360° video. The enhanced encoder has been integrated into the popular multimedia transcoder FFmpeg, which allows the pre-processing and compression of a wide set of input and output file and streaming formats The transcoder includes new features, which make it very unique in the industry:
- spindec: fast H.265 contribution to H.265 distribution transcoding with full support for H.265 Range Extensions (RExt).
- spinfilter for 360° video: High performance and high quality spherical video projection conversion including: equirectangular and cubemap projection conversions, and rotation, dynamic viewport generation.
- spinenc: H.265 encoder with higher compression efficiency than the leading open source encoders and with extra quality enhancements for 360° video.

- Server Based Video Library: The onsite library developed by DDD60 is the first of its kind in the film and TV industry. There are two advancements with regard to the state of the art: The DDD60 library for 360° films is server-based. The files are not stored locally on a client PC but centrally in a NAS connected to the library server. As a result, in spite of the size of VR files, an almost limitless amount of VR files can be stored, delivered and viewed by film industry professionals at festivals and markets.

Exploitation and use
The consortium partners have exploited the results of the project in different ways making impacts in the film & TV industry, and the media industry in general:
- Reelport: The core product of reelport are its video libraries which are operated at the world’s largest festivals and events. As a result of DDD60 reelport has added VR playout as an additional feature to these libraries.
- Spin Digital: Spin Digital commercializes video codec solutions in an international B2B market. It specializes on emerging applications that require very high quality video. Spin Digital products include complete applications (Encoder and Media Player), and a SDK for creating custom applications. The work performed in DDD60 allows Spin Digital to extend its product portfolio into the VR/360° video domain.
- Tampere Festival, Sheffield Festival, Sunny Side and Marché du Film: As festivals and markets, these partners do not have an interest in exploitation; their interest is in promoting VR content.

Wider Socio-economic Impact
DDD60 is targeted at media industry professionals, and in this domain it contributed to the acceptance of VR in the Film & TV industries, this industry will multiply its results towards its overall audience.
DDD60 VR Library
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