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Developing novel media processing and cloud computing technology with BAFTA

BAFTA Research partners with UCL to improve online visual quality of video on the internet

Video dominates global business and consumer Internet traffic and continues to grow (2012: 52%, 2017: 67%, Cisco VNI), demonstrating the massive impact of visual media production and media distribution services. Investments in these services can be severely compromised by poor visual quality, caused by mediocre encoding tools, lack of encoding and streaming know-how, and failure to support the nuance of today’s platform diversity (from HDTV, soon UHDTV, through to mobile displays).

Now, a high profile, recently funded research project involving UCL and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has started to address some of these problems. The project has already gained attention from media outlets worldwide.

Back in April BAFTA confirmed that BAFTA Research, a commercial business unit operating within the organisation, had won a share of £14m Government funding for its latest research project entitled ‘Resolving Visual Quality for Media’ (REVQUAL) supported by Dr Ioannis Andreopoulos, Senior Lecturer at UCL and Film London. It follows BAFTA’s previous work in visual quality assessment and builds on past research conducted in collaboration with UCL.

The funding was awarded by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board’s ‘Cross-platform Production in Digital Media’ competition. On the competition website, the TSB writes: "The competition aims to support projects addressing convergence in digital technologies, and covers film and television, online video, animation and video games (including pre-production, production and post-production processes, particularly in visual effects technologies)."

REVQUAL proposes to solve problems concerning visual quality for moving images on the internet, helping audiences to receive high quality video online and helping producers ensure each distribution route is consistent. Through the project, UCL will help innovate an automated service, known as a "web crawler", that continuously improves online video to generate the best possible versions for viewing combining machine learning and existing state-of-the-art visual quality metrics. It will become an essential part of online quality control as video compression standards, bandwidth availability, and mobile and other platforms continue to evolve. An ‘open dataset’ of human responses to quality, presented as a series of reference videos, will also be created to help all researchers concerned with visual quality. REVQUAL will run for two years starting in late Spring, 2014. Dr. Ioannis Andreopoulos, UCL Principal Investigator for the project, said: “We are looking forward to continuing our collaboration with BAFTA to advance the state of the art in visual quality measurement, and to working together to build the BAFTA-UCL ‘ground truth’ dataset open to all researchers.”

BAFTA Chief Operating Officer Kevin Price said “Technology research is a relatively new activity within our 67-year history. We are very pleased the Technology Strategy Board will be supporting our latest project, which allows the Academy to provide innovations that benefit the industry as a whole.”

Pam Fisher, BAFTA Research Manager, said “REVQUAL is an important project, central to BAFTA’s research focus. REVQUAL will help us meet the needs of customers using our technology, addressing concerns about preserving visual quality throughout the workflow, from the point of content creation through to viewer presentation.”

You can read an interview with Dr Yiannis Andreopoulos at EE Web

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About BAFTA

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public. In addition to its awards ceremonies, BAFTA has a year-round, international programme of learning events and initiatives that offers unique access to some of the world’s most inspiring talent through workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes, connecting with audiences of all ages and backgrounds across the UK, Los Angeles and New York. BAFTA relies on income from membership subscriptions, individual donations, trusts, foundations and corporate partnerships to support its ongoing outreach work. To access the best creative minds in film, TV and games production, visit www.bafta.org/guru. For more information, visit http://www.bafta.org/.

BAFTA Research is a commercial business unit within the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), performing technology research and developing innovative products and services in the fields of media processing and cloud computing. The agenda of BAFTA Research is driven by the charity’s commitment to celebrating excellence in the art forms of the moving image.

About the Technology Strategy Board

The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org.

As the UK’s innovation agency, one of the main roles of the Technology Strategy Board is to achieve business and economic growth for the UK. One way the organisation supports this is through funding innovative Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D) projects. Collaborative research and development (R&D) encourages businesses and researchers to work together on innovative projects in strategically important areas of science, engineering and technology – from which successful new products, processes and services can emerge, contributing to business and economic growth. Find out more about the CR&D programme at: https://www.innovateuk.org/-/collaborative-r-d.