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Programme

5G Festival

5G Festival is the world’s first 5G powered hybrid immersive festival including live and remotely collaborating artists and audiences.

Leading organisations from across the UK’s arts, entertainment and technology industries are collaborating to create the first 5G Festival, a showcase of creative talent – both technical and artistic – and the power of digital technologies. 5G Festival is where artists can gather and connect both in person and online. This unique project enables the power of 5G to communicate the “live-ness” of an experience wherever audiences or musicians are. 5G Festival will enable artists to produce and perform seamlessly from wherever they are – i.e. collaborating across multiple venues – enriching the live audience experience at home and/or in venues by using immersive technologies.

Using 5G and its ability to transmit with low latency (delay) and in ultra-high bandwidth, the 5G Festival will transform the ability of physically separate artists to perform in an immersive live, collaborative environment from different locations. The 5G Festival showcase in March 2022 will be broadcast live directly to audiences at leading UK venues, and will include immersive in-venue experiences.

As part of the wider £200 million 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme (5GTT) funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), 5G Festival was announced as part of the first wave of 5G Create projects in July 2020.

5G Festival is a collaboration of nine organisations led by Digital Catapult, and brings together Audiotonix, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, LiveFrom, Mativision, Metropolis Studios, Sonosphere, Virgin Media O2, and Warner Music Group.

5G Festival has won the “Most Innovative Use of 5G Technology” Award at the 5G Week Awards 2021, and “Most Innovative Use of 5G Technology” at the UK5G Showcase Awards 2022.

5G Festival aims to design, build and demonstrate a 5G-enabled, immersive music platform, that will enhance artists’ ability to remotely produce collaborative music performances, transform in-venue audience experiences, and create new types of hybrid/live festival experiences.

The project is uniquely positioned to harness the power of creativity and cross-technology applications to tackle three use cases:

  • Remote music production (Use Case 1): two or more artists in remote locations will be able to: play synchronously via a 5G network, see each other for visual cues using augmented reality, and experience audience reactions in virtual reality. This use case will facilitate artists/producers to write, rehearse, and collaborate together remotely in real time, representing an important cultural and creative shift.
  • Virtual Festival (at home)(Use Case 2): audiences at home consume a combined live feed from collaborating artists using any device for a rich immersive live music experience without the need for travel.
  • Hybrid Festival (at venue)(Use Case 3): audiences at a physical venue experience part of a live hybrid collaborative performance.

5G Festival will help create a more diversified, sustainable live music industry with increased opportunities to reach new users (artists/creators) and audiences by using the latest available and developing technologies, helping to not only future-proof business models for venues and festivals adversely affected by global risks (such as COVID-19 and climate change), but provide safe, creation/performance environment for artists and valuable, high-quality, immersive experiences to audiences wherever they are around the world.

The core 5G infrastructure is based on Digital Catapult’s 5G testbeds in Brighton and London, inter-connected with Virgin Media O2’s public 5G network. The technology will be designed and incorporated into an in-venue ‘hybrid festival’ providing a blend of live physical and remote interactive and immersive engagements for in-venue audiences and exploring opportunities for digital transformation and capability building for the UK’s world-leading live music, festivals and events sector. The Virgin Media O2 Lab will be developing the customer facing mobile application for the project.

 

The collaboration is led by Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology and leading 5G specialist, and brings together leading organisations from across the UK’s arts, entertainment and technology industries:

  • Audiotonix (audio mixing consoles and AoIP networking) is leading the work on audio networking;
  • Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival (renowned live arts venue and cultural organisation working with Brighton 5G testbed partner Wired Sussex) leading on the public showcase and the hybrid festival experiences;
  • LiveFrom (blockchain ticketing) is developing the ticketing system for the project;
  • Mativision (5G, 360° immersive live streaming and distribution platform) is leading the development work on the 5G Festival platform which will enable artists collaboration and video streaming;
  • Metropolis Studios (audio mixing, production and venue) is offering their music venue and their expertise in music mixing to the project;
  • Sonosphere (immersive audio and live streaming) is leading the trials activities and offering their immersive audio system;
  • Virgin Media O2 (telecommunications service provider and sponsor of The O2 and O2 Academy venues) – developing the customer facing mobile application for the project. VMO2 will also install a public 5G network in BDBF and offer access to the O2 venues;
  • Warner Music Group (global music company) leading on the commercialisation opportunities for the 5G Festival.

March 2022 Showcase

5G Festival culminated in a live, hybrid showcase event involving artists performing from three of the UK’s most iconic music venues: Metropolis Studios, the O2 Blueroom at The O2, and Brighton Dome.

The 5G Festival showcase featured demonstrations of the technical milestones that have been achieved during the course of the project – in particular solving the issue of latency (delay) between artists collaborating remotely with each other from different locations – as currently, it is not possible for artists to perform together, remotely, over an ordinary network.

Most importantly, the showcase provided the clearest demonstration yet of the potential future use cases for 5G in the music and live arts sector, as well as the commercial benefits of using 5G as part of a range of connectivity solutions for this type of event, and how other advanced technologies like virtual and augmented reality, can be seamlessly combined to produce novel experiences for performers and audiences alike.

5G FESTIVAL – MARCH 22-25

Over 20 musicians performed together in a unique concert, showcasing the technical achievements made during the project, and demonstrating the potential role advanced digital technologies could play in a festival of the future.

Headliners included double-platinum album selling singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner and Brighton-based Alt Folk band Memorial, both playing in Brighton Dome’s iconic Concert Hall to an in-person audience. Rising stars, BRIT Award nominee and voice of the 2021 John Lewis Christmas Ad, Lola Young, and Natalie Lindi, part of the MOBO Unsung Class of 2021, performed live in the O2 Blueroom at The O2. They were joined by seamless backing vocals, drums and keyboard from Brighton Dome, and guitar and percussion live from Metropolis Studios in West London. London-based rock duo Pearl Harts did a stand-alone performance at Metropolis Studios, which was live streamed to the other venues as part of the hybrid festival experience.

November 2021

The third trial focused on testing the remaining technical barriers of audio and video latency 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 and Band Room, and at Metropolis Studios.

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

This trial tested the hybrid audience experience in the Brighton Dome Concert Hall using multiple visual streams from Mativision’s Common Service Platform (CSP). It also tested the mixed reality audience experience and the set up of the spatial audio in a separate large space for multiple viewers.

5G Festival hit a world first by capturing and mixing the artists’ performance in 3D at Metropolis Studios and distributing it back to the audience in Brighton, something that will have compelling commercial significance in the future.

 

June 2021

The second trials tested how much audio latency (delay) can be tolerated for a group of performers to be able to play together remotely, and how spatial audio (instead of stereo) helps them collaborate seamlessly in-sync.

A new group called “The Remotes” was created led by musical director Kojo Samuel. The Remotes rehearsed and performed from physically separate locations: a vocalist and drummer in Metropolis Studios, with a vocalist, bass player, lead guitarist and keyboard player in two separate spaces within Brighton Dome, 60 miles away.

Spatial sound was trialled to see how this new and emerging audio technology can create a “virtual festival” experience, transporting the audience member from an intimate space elsewhere in Brighton Dome to the very centre of the Concert Hall auditorium.

Video latency was tested to determine if the performers could take visual cues from each other remotely, using augmented reality (AR) glasses, live streaming through a 5G network-ready 360° content distribution platform, and an innovative immersive audio mixing interface.

March 2021

In March 2021, the first trials experimented with the effects of audio latency (the delay in the amount of time is takes for sound to get from its source to a listener’s ears – i.e. from one musician to another) on the performers’ ability to play together, dialling the amount of delay (latency) up and down to showcase the power of 5G technology and test the musicians’ and singers’ ability to cope with latency, as well as what the delay limits were before a performance fell apart.

Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult said: “Covid-19 has denied us all the buzz of going to live shows. 5G Festival aims to change our view of how to enjoy a live performance as the project looks to create the world’s first internationally accessible, immersive live festival experience powered by 5G. This ambitious project aims both to help artists collaborate and create new music, and then to enable audiences to see their favourite artist, safely in-person at one of the UK’s best venues or from the comfort of their own home, in a totally new and different way. It’s an honour for Digital Catapult to lead a project with such great partners – watch this space!”

 

Images © Jamie MacMillan