Appear’s JPEG XS instrumental in delivering live 3D VR content for major sporting event
JPEG XS encoding in Appear’s X Platform was used to successfully deliver live 3D virtual reality (VR) content for a major sporting event that took place earlier this summer. Deployed in partnership with production company Mobilelinks and fan experience technology provider Cosm, JPEG XS provided the basis for the successful delivery of live VR content for the event’s beginning and ending shows, as well as for live 3D VR content across five major sporting events, including boxing, basketball, beach volleyball, gymnastics, and athletics. This live VR content was delivered three times, every day throughout the entirety of the event.
The companies also supported the delivery of video-on-demand (VOD) content for 30 additional sports throughout the event.
In the run up to this major sporting event, there was appetite and huge demand to deliver more immersive content experiences, such as 3D and VR. However, supporting these content formats in live streams presented a major challenge. The only connectivity between the main sporting venues and the International Broadcasting Centre (IBC) 80 kilometres away was two dark fibre lines – and these needed to carry all video content from the event, including 10 camera channels in 4K.
This event had high expectations, targets, and challenges. Using IP to transport feeds across long distances in a practical way and having the right technology in place to support this kind of undertaking was paramount.
This technically complex project not only required compression technology that was reliable when delivering such bandwidth intensive content, but given the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams needed the option to perform remote production from hotel rooms as and when required.
Contribution and remote production for any live sporting event is technically complex—but add in the delivery of large volumes of live VR content, during a pandemic, and for a high-profile event such as this one, and the complexity intensifies tenfold.
JPEG XS encoding represented the ideal solution to deliver 3D VR content on the available bandwidth, thanks to its prioritization of low latency and high quality, while also providing practical levels of compression to deliver the best possible immersive experience.
As the production company on the ground, Mobilelinks deployed JPEG XS encoding in Appear’s X Platform hardware within its outside broadcast (OB) compound. The X Platform was also deployed at the IBC.
The combination of JPEG XS and SMTPE ST 2110 in a fully redundant network was a flexible and reliable solution to meet the delivery needs of this project. By implementing 2022-7 over the network, Mobilelinks could support a high redundancy level with seamless switching, which was imperative in the event of hardware failure on any of the physical links and switches.
From the OB compound, the X Platform JPEG XS encoders compressed live video feeds at a lossless rate so they could be transmitted to the IBC with minimal latency. From the IBC, the live VR content could be delivered to VR headsets across the globe, where users were able to access the immersive content via the Oculus Venues app. Cosm was responsible for developing the VR content within the app, and used 3D lenses on two cameras at each event to create the 3D VR content.
With such a complex and ambitious project, Appear’s X Platform JPEG XS encoders ticked all the boxes—not only is it the best in class from a technological perspective, but its compact hardware was a perfect solution for outside and live event production.
JPEG XS is the latest in light compression algorithms that reduces bitrate by a factor of between 10 to 18 without sacrificing quality or introducing latency. JPEG XS in the X Platform supports transmission of JPEG XS compressed video over both SMPTE 2110 and classic transport streams. With two modules, one with classic coax SDI IO and one with Dual 40/25/10 IP, production companies like Mobilelinks can easily bridge sites with classic coax infrastructure with newer sites based on SMPTE 2110 infrastructure.
Along with providing live VR content for the beginning and ending shows and the five sporting events direct to consumers, the content was also used as live event and VOD coverage for major sporting broadcasters.
In fact, during the sporting event, the three companies together delivered over 100 hours of live VR content in 4K across the globe.