BBC R&D explore virtual reality through Philharmonic performance

BBC Research and Development has carried out a virtual reality pilot of a BBC Philharmonic performance to investigate the working of VR technology alongside spatial audio.

This follows non-commercial VR tests last year, as R&D tries to establish the practical implementation of VR in different immersive environments. During last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, R&D tested a 360-degree live video stream to Oculus Rift headgear.

“We’re following the same approach we took to 3DTV,” said section leader of immersive & interactive content, Graham Thomas. “We’re not spending a huge amount of money but we are testing VR in particular programme areas to assess what works and what impact it has on other areas of work.”

The philharmonic performance test’s key focus is on developing audio realism in the VR experience, one that can immerse users into a true to life, object-orientated environment.

“If you’re experiencing a concert hall in VR you need an accurate understanding of the relationship between what you are hearing in front of you and from each side,” said Thomas.

This VR test will feed into research conducted by R&D into the potential of higher dynamic range for a better quality Ultra HD. BBC R&D recently used the New Year’s London firework display to assess the output of high dynamic range in video images, however, bringing this technology into VR has its own issues.

“In a 360-degree video of sports stadia, for example, you are capturing a scene in all directions including areas of bright sunlight or dark shadows,” Thomas explains. “Whereas the iris of conventional cameras can be adjusted to pick out a range of contrasts there are currently restrictions on this in 360 coverage but there are areas of overlap we are exploring.”

DTG Staff  |  20.01.2015

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