Tuesday, 29 January 2008

BBC Festival of Technology

We had our Festival of Technology last week, where BBC Research and Innovation showed off some of the things that we've been doing over the last year. Dirac was there of course, showing some of our professional HW and 1920x1080 HDTV at 8Mb/s. But a big part of what we were showing came from the Virtual Production team: surround video, the iView system for virtual camera angles and a really neat image stabilisation tool for extracting a stable video image from tiny body-mounted cameras.

We've all seen these things on undercover reporter programs: cameras hidden in lapels or bags. Well, the quality is generally pretty awful as soon as the camera is moved. What the VP team have done is put a fish-eye lens on the camera and use real-time global motion compensation to stabilise it. Then you can pick a rectangular area to display and undo the geometric distortion. All this done in OpenGL on the graphics board in real time. Something that wouldn't have been possible a couple of years ago without some very powerful specialist hardware, done cheaply and easily to produce a great tool for TV.

Given sufficient resolution, maybe in a few years we won't even be using standard lenses in sports coverage : everything will be fish-eye lenses with virtual cameras cut out in the production gallery.

1 comment:

Nick Reynolds (Editor, BBC Internet Blog) said...

This link has pictures of the Festival:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/01/bbc_festival_of_technology_1.html

This link has more detail:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/01/festival_of_technology_whats_t_1.html