BBC Research & Development

The British Broadcasting Corporation Research & Development (BBC) is a large broadcasting organisation producing radio and television programmes in a number of studio centres of varying size throughout the United Kingdom. In addition, it operates one of the most popular web sites in Europe. BBC R&D is a world-leading centre for media production and broadcasting technology, providing the BBC with a competitive advantage through technology development and expertise. It has a staff of about 100 engineers, mathematicians and scientists, and a range of specialist resources including a TV studio. R&D staff maintain close contacts with programme makers, to gather user requirements for projects and test prototypes. BBC R&D contributes to the setting of international standards, and has played key roles in groups such as MPEG, the Pro-MPEG Forum, TV-Anytime, the EBU and DVB. BBC R&D has either led or contributed to many successful EC-funded projects. Recent projects include MetaVision, ORIGAMI, Share it!, ASSAVID, SAMBITS, MOTIVATE, MATRIS, my eDirector 2012 and 3D4YOU. BBC R&D has an excellent track record of work concerned with the application of novel image processing techniques to TV production. BBC work in the RACE project MONA LISA led to the demonstration of the first live virtual studio and vision-based camera tracking system at IBC’94. Some image manipulation hardware that the BBC developed in this project went on to be commercialised and became one of the world’s most widely-used 2D virtual set systems, winning an International Broadcasting Award in 1996 for the Video R&D Achievement of the year. Other developments that have been commercialised include the free-d camera tracking system, which won an RTS Technical Innovation award in 1998. A real-time image-based camera tracking system developed by the BBC in the MATRIS project was commercialised as a part of the Piero sports graphics system, which won an IBC Innovation Award in 2006. In FascinatE, BBC will lead WP1 on requirements, system definition, integration and validation. The close links between BBC R&D and BBC Sport will allow input from programme-makers to feed into the requirements capture, both from the point of view of how the system will need to fit into a typical outside broadcast, and what the system should provide to consumers. BBC will also lead WP6, coordinating the major project demonstrations, drawing on links with BBC production departments to gain access to venues for testing and demonstrating the system in real-world situations. BBC will make its main technical contributions to WP2, concentrating on the integration of images from manned broadcast cameras into the panoramic video. This will build upon previous BBC work in the MATRIS project concerning real-time image-based calibration and tracking of broadcast cameras, and extend it to look at issues such as handling motion blur, matching of brightness and colour, and the integration of images with different frame rates. The other main technical contribution is to WP3, concerning production grammar and tracking of regions-ofinterest for automated shot framing, building on earlier BBC work on automated coverage for sports events.

Key People

Dr. Graham Thomas joined BBC R&D at Kingswood Warren in 1983. His early work included the development of motion estimation methods for standards conversion based on phase correlation, which led to an Emmy award and a Queen’s Award. Since 1995 he has been leading a team of engineers developing 3D image processing and graphics techniques for TV production. Graham led the PROMETHEUS DTI Link Project, which developed tools for real-time 3D capture, delivery and display, and he has contributed to many EU IST projects including MATRIS (markerless camera tracking), ORIGAMI (3D capture of studio scenes), and MetaVision (capture of images including depth information). He holds over 20 patents.

Dr. Oliver Grau received a Diploma (Master) and a PhD from the University of Hanover, Germany. From 1991-2000 he worked as a research scientist at the University of Hanover and was involved in several national and international projects, in the field of industrial image processing and 3D scene reconstruction for computer graphics applications. In 2000 he joined BBC R&D in the UK. He has worked on a number of research projects, including ACTS-PANORAMA,  PROMETHEUS, IST-MetaVision and IST-ORIGAMI. He was project leader of the DTI iview project on 3D visualisation of sport scenes and currently contributes to the FP7 project 3D4YOU. His research interests are new innovative tools for visual media production using image processing, computer vision and computer graphics techniques and he has published many research papers and patents on this topic.

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