IBC Best Conference Paper Award Recognises Advances in AI

In a year when artificial intelligence and machine learning became a hot topic, the IBC Best Conference Paper Award goes to a team from BBC research and development. 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.

The paper, ‘AI in Production: Video Analysis and Machine Learning for Expanded Live Events Coverage’, will be presented at midday on Sunday the 16th as part of a new initiative at IBC2018 – ‘Tech Talks’. ‘Tech Talks’ ensures the highly respected technical papers remain an integral part of the IBC conference.

In the paper a team of BBC researchers covering a range of skills, under project lead Mike Evans, discuss a project known as ‘Ed’. This prototype system is used to create near-live content with minimal crew. An example might be a set of three unmanned 4K cameras, 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,” Mike Evans said. “With conventional production we cover only about six of the nearly 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.”

Dr Paul Entwistle, Chair of the IBC Technical Papers Committee which provides careful peer review of the many papers proposed for IBC, said, “The detail in this paper is absolutely fascinating. The team has developed an artificial intelligence 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 authors winning this year’s IBC Best Conference Paper are Craig Wright (who will be presenting it at IBC), Jack Allnut, Rosie Campbell, Michael Evans, Ronan Forman, James Gibson, Stephen Jolly, Lianne Kerlin, Zuzanna Lechelt, Graeme Phillipson and Matthew Shotton, all from BBC research and development. They will be presented with the award as part of the IBC Awards Ceremony, on Sunday evening, 16th of September at 18:30.

The ceremony will see the presentation of all IBC’s awards, including the International Honour for Excellence. Attendance is free for all IBC visitors.

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