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5G Festival hits new milestone with live audience trial

Posted 16 Dec 2021

5G Festival hits new milestone with live audience trial

The partners behind 5G Festival have completed a successful trial with a live, public audience as it prepares for the showcase event next year.

The collaboration of nine organisations is led by Digital Catapult, and brings together Audiotonix, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, LiveFrom, Mativision, Metropolis Studios, Sonosphere, Virgin Media O2, and Warner Music Group.

The trial focused on testing the remaining key technical barriers of audio and video latency (delay) with performances of original music from experienced session musicians J. Appiah, Mitch Jones, Henry Guy and Smiley Wade, playing in Brighton Dome’s Concert Hall (vocals and keyboard), and Band Room (bass), and Metropolis Studios, 60 miles away in London (drums).

Testing critical aspects of the 5G and immersive technology (mixed reality multiple visual streams and spatial audio) 5G Festival will deliver a world-first music collaboration platform and experience for artists, audiences and venues.

For the first time in this project, a live audience was invited to participate to offer valuable feedback and insight on the audience experience that will be used to inform the world’s first 5G powered hybrid immersive festival experience in March 2022.

A hybrid festival experience

The most recent trial tested the hybrid audience experience in the Concert Hall using multiple visual streams from the Common Service Platform. It also tested the mixed reality audience experience and the set up of the spatial audio in a separate large space for multiple viewers.

The new and emerging technology of spatial sound was used to create a “virtual festival” experience which transports the audience member from wherever they are to the centre of Brighton Dome’s auditorium.

For the audience, creative set design helped to make a more emotionally connected experience in-venue, and video from Mativision’s platform and linear video streams enabled live streaming for an at-home audience on their preferred viewing device, or from one venue to another.

The drummer performed using augmented reality (AR) glasses, live streaming through a 5G network-ready 360° content distribution platform, and an innovative immersive audio mixing interface, allowing them to collaborate using technology to recreate the same kind of seamless performance as a band performing together on one stage.

5G Festival, part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, is part of efforts across the music sector to create innovative platforms for musicians and artists to write, rehearse and perform music despite geographical barriers, and deliver new, uniquely engaging ways for audiences to watch live performances.

Dritan Kaleshi, Director of 5G Technology at Digital Catapult, said: “As the 5G Festival trials continue to gather pace, we’re seeing first hand how crucial 5G will be as the technology that underpins and enables the novel collaboration platform and the new audience experience we are developing. What’s so powerful about 5G Festival is that it’s using advanced technology to augment and enhance – this isn’t about replacing that feeling of seeing a live artist in person, it’s about harnessing what 5G and immersive technologies can do to elevate the experience for audiences and create new opportunities for artists, and for the wider industry.”

Donna Close, Digital Cultural Associate, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival: “The 5G Festival is about exploring how artists engaging with new and emerging technologies supported by 5G can collaborate wherever they are and provide unique and memorable experiences for audiences in-venue and at-home. We are at the beginning of this exploration but the potential for venues and festivals to present immersive hybrid and remote events is huge, especially when the network allows for real-time international collaboration.”

Gavin Newman, Brand Director at Metropolis Studios, said: “Being able to drive audio/video latency low enough to enable members of a band to rehearse and perform seamlessly with each other, separated by 70 miles between venues, demonstrates the significance of the project and the capability of 5G technology. We also hit a world first by capturing and mixing their performance in 3D at the studio and distributing it back to an audience in Brighton, something we believe will have compelling commercial significance in the future.”

Anthony Karydis, Founder & CEO of Mativision, commented: “Mativision are very pleased with the progress we had in this trial. We managed to achieve very low latency for all content delivered through our Common Service Platform (CSP) development. Especially encouraging was the feedback from all the participating musicians who found it easy to collaborate remotely and play live seamlessly, as if they were in the same room.”

Jamie Gosney, Director & Owner, Sonosphere, said: “One of the things that excites me about all that we’re doing, and is very current, is the ability to allow artists to collaborate without travelling. Local venues will also be able to host immersive live streams of concerts, allowing fans to have as near to the live experience as possible, again without travelling to remote locations. Both of these are directly in line with current green issues and the latter has the added advantage of boosting local economies.”

Neil Hooper, Group Technology Officer at Audiotonix, comments: “These trials enabled us to expand the virtual 5G Festival live audio experience using a combination of Calrec’s AoIP network and DiGiCo’s live mixing technologies, together with KLANG’s in-ear immersive knowledge. We were also able to replace a section of the wired network with over the air 5G transmission which proved the 5G AoIP technology works well. Ultimately though, it moved us a significant step closer to the final goal of providing professional live audio, including immersive experiences, to artists and audiences in both a physical and virtual space. As the live music world gathers pace post pandemic, this technology can provide a significant enhancement of the live experience for all involved.”

Rob Searle, Head of 5G at Virgin Media O2, said: “It’s great to see the superfast, low latency capabilities of 5G being used in creative ways like this. We’re excited to be part of such a collaborative group and can’t wait to support the delivery of the final experience next year.”

Tiago Correia, Director, Global Digital Business Development, WMG, said: “The quickening pace of technological change is driving massive new opportunities within the music ecosystem. WMG is focused on putting the right partnerships in place that enable our artists and songwriters to tap into these new opportunities. Our partnership with the 5G Festival does just that by showcasing artists’ ability to harness the power of 5G technology to create new and engaging experiences for and with fans.”

Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure Julia Lopez said: “As part of our £200 million 5G trials programme, 5G Festival is creating a thrilling new dimension to live gig experiences for audiences across the UK to enjoy. This latest trial is just one example of how our investment in tech innovation can be the rocket fuel industries need to build back better, and I look forward to seeing the final festival experience next year.”