Fraunhofer and its partners showcase MPEG-H Audio in Spain

Fraunhofer IIS participates in live streaming trial in Spain.

Fraunhofer IIS recently started a live streaming trial using the MPEG-H Audio technology in a demonstration organized by UHD SPAIN, an initiative led by Medina Media. The production company – organizer of the 4K HDR Summit since 2015 – promotes 4K, HDR, and Next Generation Audio in Spain.

UHD SPAIN is a non-profit association that was founded by 30 of Spain’s leading broadcast and technology companies and has seen steady growth since then. It aims to unite all companies in the Spanish 4K HDR audiovisual industry to work together on the advancement and consensus of the implementation of Ultra HD in Spain. As a founding member, Fraunhofer IIS is actively participating in several UHD SPAIN working groups including capture, post-production, encoding, broadcast, and reception and will also carry out technical tests in relation to Next Generation Audio and its most advanced features.

For the current trial, content from UHD SPAIN members – Medina Media (audiovisual and professional events producer), Axion (Radio y Televisión de Andalucía), Corporación de Radio y Televisión Española (RTVE), Corporació Catalana de Mitjans Audiovisuals – that was originally produced in stereo, was used. Fraunhofer IIS pre-processed the content using the MPEG-H Audio production technology Dialog+ to provide dialog enhancement for better intelligibility and to enable basic personalization options. This makes it possible for the audience to interact with the content and adapt it to their own preferences within the limits set by the broadcaster in the ADM production metadata.

In addition to the UHD service, Fraunhofer IIS has enabled a second HD service using content provided by the European Broadcasting Union and France Television produced in MPEG-H Audio in order to show the entire capabilities of the technology, from immersive sound to advanced interactivity features based on audio object positioning.

Strong partnerships make for great results

To transmit the content from Erlangen using DASH streaming, Fraunhofer worked closely with their long-standing partner ATEME who provided their ATEME TITAN Live Encoder, which can output multiple services using MPEG-H Audio for streaming and broadcast. By setting up the streaming chain together, the partners were able to show all the possibilities of MPEG-H Audio in a live environment. At the reception end of the trial, several members of UHD SPAIN, including MEDIAPRO, DELUXE Spain, SAPEC, RTVE, Corporació Catalana de Mitjans Audiovisuals, and UPM used MPEG-H enabled Android applications to receive and experience the streamed content.

“We were quite impressed with the MPEG-H performance,” states Alberto Alejo at CCMA. “First of all, the Dialog+ technology really gave the UHD material provided an impressive revamp with its ability to enhance existing stereo content and add customization capabilities. Secondly, the material provided by Fraunhofer showed the entire range of what the technology can really deliver in terms of 3D sound – naturally including all the personalization features, too.”

„We are really excited about this opportunity to join a multi-participant trial. This way we can demonstrate the extremely important benefits and the quality of MPEG-H to content producers, broadcasters, and the audience,“ says Elena Burdiel, Research Associate at Fraunhofer IIS. “It is also a great way to strengthen our partnerships and to optimize every step of the production and transmission process in order to be able to support all our partners across their entire workflows.”

Customizable immersive audio for a broad audience

Among the features of MPEG-H that people can currently experience are advanced customization options. Immersive audio is a great way to enjoy music and videos and with MPEG-H, audiences can enjoy an audio scene that completely envelops them just like a real-life experience. There is a growing need, however, to match the experience to an individual’s requirements. MPEG-H includes a production technology that makes this possible while at the same time retaining the artistic intent of the creator. Creators and broadcasters can seamlessly integrate 3D audio into their workflows without the need to invest extensively into new equipment. It also allows them to control any parameter of the audio mix and thereby create and maintain their unique style while meeting the needs of a diverse audience.

“We really want to be able to open the doors to share the best audiovisual experience with our audience. Therefore, we think it is important to give the chance to any user to customize their experience to meet their needs – be it a preference for stadium sound or a need for audio description,” says Maria Medina, at Medina Media. “From UHD Spain our aim is to demonstrate the most advanced audio and video technologies, and thanks to members like Fraunhofer we are excited to carry out more tests in the future and expect great insights.”

The trial content is available until July 26, 2021 through an Android Mobile Application, which can be used with headphones for a binaural experience of immersive sound by all UHD SPAIN members currently testing the technology. To get a first impression you can also see them below.

 

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