BBC using Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games to trial 4K/UHD, pan-around video, augmented video and Oculus Rift

Image: Scotland's Kimberley Renicks winning a gold in Judo yesterday. Pic by Getty

The BBC is using the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, which kicked off this week, as a testing ground for new ways of delivering TV coverage of live events.

A special BBC R&D production is being shown live in the Glasgow Science Centre for the duration of the Games (until 3rd August), giving people a unique opportunity to see the very first live broadcast of a Commonwealth Games in Ultra-High Definition (UHD) – aka 4K – which offers up to four times as much detail as standard HD.

The demonstrations are available from 10am-5pm in the Glasgow Science Centre’s Clyde Suite and form part of the wider BBC at the Quay festivities. If you're in London, you can view the action at the Media Cafe in New Broadcasting House in Central London.

A BBC engineer sets up one of the UHD cameras at a Commonwealth Games venue

Other innovations include a Venue Explorer, which allows you watch live video feeds on your tablet and then zoom into the images and pan around. A fixed, wide angle camera supplies UHD video from venues,which means there's no loss of resolution as you manipulate the image. The audio is automatically remixed to correspond to the area being looked at, and graphical overlays provide data about what you see.

The BBC's Venue Explorer provides graphical overlays of information

Immersive viewing using virtual-reality technology is also being trialled. By combining the Oculus Rift headset as method of navigation with the department’s ongoing research into 3D audio you’ll be able to experience being in the audience at The Hydro Stadium as the events there unfold.

In another broadcasting first that offers a lot of creative potential, the Commonwealth Games UHD broadcast from Glasgow is the first major live event to be produced and distributed entirely over IP networks. This is being delivered using an initial version of BBC R&D’s vision for a new broadcasting system, which aims to take advantage of the increasing speed and ubiquity of internet networks and IT technology.

One of the benefits will be to provide richer, more interactive and more personal ways of telling stories to audiences. The BBC's Augmented Video Player is one example of this. It offers in-vision data during the coverage at the Commonwealth Games, for example overlaying the performances of gymnasts with details of each movement they perform, providing an extra layer of information and understanding for the viewer.

“We may well look back at this trial as a watershed moment in the history of broadcasting,” said Matthew Postgate, controller of BBC R&D. “By proving for the first time that complex events can be created and delivered completely over IP technology, we’re opening up a world of possibilities to programme makers and the wider industry.”

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