July 3, 2007
San Francisco, CA, July 3, 2007 ? On June 20, 2007, the first successful demonstration of trans-Atlantic streaming over photonic IP networks of 4K digital motion pictures and 5.1 surround sound was achieved by the international research consortium, CineGrid. This demonstration, part of the CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 project, was the latest in a series of ground-breaking CineGrid experiments using very high quality digital media running over very high speed digital networks.
CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 recorded a performance of "Era la Notte" at the Holland Festival, featuring soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci performing works of Monteverdi, Strozzi and Giramo at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ concert hall in Amsterdam. The 75-minute live performance was transmitted nearly 10,000 kilometers, in real-time, to the University of California San Diego where it was viewed in 4K (at four times the resolution of HDTV) on a large screen with surround-sound by an audience in the 200-seat auditorium of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). Calit2 built the first CineGrid node in North America, fully equipped to handle networked digital media at this extremely high quality.
With the permission of the Holland Festival and the cooperation of the "Era la Notte" performers, CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 was able to deliver an audience experience of unprecedented quality across long distances using advanced networks. According to Tom DeFanti, Research Scientist in the UCSD division of Calit2, "the CineGrid combination of 4K streaming video and surround sound created an astounding sense of live presence in the auditorium, as if the audience in San Diego were actually sitting in the concert hall in Amsterdam, seeing, hearing and feeling the diva's beautiful performance very directly. Collectively, the CineGrid community learned a lot of useful lessons, both technically and creatively. The emerging global infrastructure of lambda-grids, networks of switchable/routable lightpaths, that is used by CineGrid opens all sorts of new approaches to media producers and consumers." .
"The CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 demonstrations prove that live 4K production and networked distribution of music concerts, opera, sports and various content genres beyond traditional theatrical-release feature movies is not only technically feasible but delivers a compelling new entertainment experience," said Laurin Herr, president of Pacific Interface and co-founder of CineGrid. "In networking terms, 'live' requires more reliable throughput and low-latency responsiveness. CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 confirms that even these most demanding types of streaming media distribution can be done over gigabit IP networks using lightpath infrastructure today."
The CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 team recorded the "Era la Notte" performances on June 20-21 at the highest possible quality. With the cooperation of the Holland Festival and the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ technical staff, the CineGrid team in Amsterdam installed two Olympus 4K digital motion picture cameras at the center rear of the concert hall. One camera was fixed with a wide-angle lens. The other camera followed the performer with a longer lens. The output from both cameras was recorded uncompressed directly to digital video disk recorders made by Keisoku Giken. In parallel, 16 channels of 24-bits/48 KHz uncompressed digital audio was recorded to a Digidesign Pro Tools digital audio disk recorder from 16 microphones strategically placed in the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ especially for the CineGrid recording of the performances.
"The concept of live recording of musical performances for transmission to remote audiences with very high audio fidelity has long been a dream of audio engineers," explained Peter Otto, Music Technology Director at UCSD’s Department of Music and a member of the AES Technical Committee for Network Audio Solutions. "The CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 demonstration proved that multi-channel audio streaming over IP works well, sounds good, and is now feasible for real-world applications. And because we also recorded 16 channels of 24-bits/48KHz uncompressed audio to go with the 4K motion pictures, we will be able to post-produce sound at the highest quality for experiments in audio spatialization and acoustic simulation to experiment with new types of immersive audience experiences."
The 4K transmission from Amsterdam to San Diego on June 20 utilized 4K real-time JPEG 2000 codecs originally designed by NTT Network Innovation Labs to send a compressed 4K x 30 fps stream at bit rates of approximately 500 Mbps. In addition, CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 also transmitted compressed HDTV between the same two sites on June 21 using a DVCPRO HD compressed audio/video bit stream packetized for network transmission using a Qvidium HD 1394 IP Gateway at bit rates of approximately 145 Mbps. Future CineGrid experiments will be designed to deliver both HD and 4K compressed content to multiple CineGrid nodes simultaneously via high speed networks. Other future experiments will feature uncompressed transmission of both HD and 4K using even higher capacity lightpath networks.
The 4K, HD and audio recordings of "Era la Notte" at the Holland Festival 2007 will be securely archived in the new CineGrid Exchange, an experimental distributed archive for digital media with both preservation and distribution functions serving CineGrid members worldwide via research networks. CineGrid Exchange will maintain three full digital replicas of the "Era la Notte" picture and sound data assets at: Keio University’s Research Institute for Digital Media and Content (DMC) in Tokyo, Japan, at the Amsterdam LightHouse, a joint network laboratory of SARA and the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and at Calit2 at the UC San Diego in La Jolla, California.
“Starting with these new "Era la Notte" recordings, as content is added to the CineGrid Exchange, CineGrid members, such as the University of Amsterdam, can use these digital assets to research the technical foundations of CineGrid which require massive storage systems, long-term digital preservation, networked distribution and other engineering topics that pertain equally to digital media for arts, entertainment and culture, as well as for scientific visualization, medicine, education and research," explained Cees de Laat, Associate Professor in the Informatics Institute at the University of Amsterdam.
"To securely store the many terabytes of data recorded each day by CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 was a challenge," said Paul Wielinga, manager of networking at SARA. "An equivalent of 750 DVDs of data was transferred after each recording from the Muziekgebouw to SARA, where it was copied to two separate high performance storage systems for redundant protection."
4K images have roughly 4,000 horizontal pixels. 4K offers approximately four times the number of pixels of the 1080i HD television format, and 24 times that of a standard broadcast TV signal. 4K (and the lower resolution 2K format) are particularly significant new image formats because they will be widely used for future digital cinema theatrical distribution under new specifications proposed by Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC, a consortium of the major Hollywood studios, and currently being standardized by SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.)
Naohisa Ohta, Professor at Keio University Research Institute for Digital Media and Content, which built the first CineGrid node in Asia, said, "While 4K is very challenging to produce, transmit and display today, we believe it will become easier and more widely deployed in the coming years. By bringing together media researchers with networking engineers and performing artists, we are able to explore the creative possibilities and technical limitations as part of CineGrid. Because this is such a new field, we must 'learn by doing' and in the process train and educate the next generation of digital media professionals who will become future leaders in arts, entertainment, culture, education, science, medicine and research."
CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 was made possible by the cooperation of: the Holland Festival, the "Era la Notte" performers and creative directors, the technical staff of the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ; Keio University DMC which took responsibility for all 4K image capture, recording and transmission systems in Amsterdam, including the KG video disk recorders loaned by Keisoku Giken and NICT, the Japanese National Institute of Information and Communications Technology; UC San Diego Calit2/CRCA which took responsibility for all audio capture, recording and mixing systems in Amsterdam, as well as HD transmission; Pacific Interface which acted as overall producers; the Waag Society that made all local production arrangements; the University of Amsterdam and SARA which provided data transfer and mass storage support for the production; UCSD/Calit2 which received the streaming performances in San Diego; and SURFnet and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) which coordinated international networking.
CineGrid team members from the Waag Society and SURFnet pulled new fiber into the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in order to establish local connectivity from Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ to SURFnet, which was then connected to existing cyberinfrastructure operated as the Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF) by a consortium of research networks around the world. For CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007, a so-called "lightpath" using dedicated lambdas (wavelengths) at 1 Gbps was established from the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ to SURFnet's NetherLight GLIF Open Lightpath Exchange (GOLE) in Amsterdam, to the StarLight GOLE in Chicago, connecting to Cisco-provided research waves on the National LambdaRail (NLR) infrastructure which carried the streams across America to Calit2 at UC San Diego in California.
"The networking infrastructure used by CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 in Amsterdam, across the Atlantic Ocean, and across America is only available because of visionary investments by national and international research programs starting more than five years ago," said Kees Neggers, Managing Director of SURFnet BV. "When the government of the Netherlands and others made these investments in high speed networking, the goal was to support the needs of scientists at our major universities and research laboratories who want to collaborate with their colleagues around the world. I am delighted to now see CineGrid exploring new digital media applications using this same infrastructure."
The CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 project was the first 4K production in the Netherlands and the first live 4K transmission from Europe to America. According to Marleen Stikker, Director General of the Waag Society, "We hope to build upon the success of CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 to establish a permanent CineGrid node in Amsterdam, together with our colleagues at University of Amsterdam, SARA and SURFnet. This node can be used by current and future CineGrid members to produce, store, distribute and project 4K materials. We believe that CineGrid is a very powerful approach to stimulating collaboration between artists, engineers and scientists, and linking arts and cultural institutions in Amsterdam with partner institutions in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe, the Americas and Asia."
On June 22, 2007, in cooperation with Waag Society, BeamSystems and Cultuurfabriek, CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 held a premiere screening at Pakhuis de Zwijger featuring excerpts from the 4K recording of "Era La Notte". More than 85 professionals from cultural, technical, educational, scientific and business communities watched the first 4K demonstration in Holland. This diverse public was impressed with the audio-visual quality of the material and sense of being present at a live event that was evoked by both images and sound. This gave rise to lively discussions and speculations about future use of CineGrid.
After watching the premiere 4K screening of "Era la Notte," Jacques van Veen, Managing Director of the Holland Festival said, "Festivals in Europe every year host some of the highest quality and rarest live performances in the world, typically just for audiences who come to sit in our halls. I am now convinced, for the first time, that it is possible to deliver an audience experience of unprecedented quality and enjoyment across long distances using high-speed networks. This has important implications for the Holland Festival in terms of potentially expanding our audience beyond Amsterdam. And I believe it will open new avenues of creative expression for the artists we invite to perform at the Holland Festival. We look forward to exploring these themes further with CineGrid members."
As a closing remark at the premiere, Frank Kresin of Waag Society said: "The true beauty of this project lies in the fruitful collaboration of people from different communities and countries. Technicians, scientists, artists and performers have worked together to make this experiment come true. While the results are impressive and very worthwhile in themselves, the promise of future joint experiments and the spin-off into many as yet unknown directions is the real gain. In that sense, the capture, transmission and screening of CineGrid @ Holland Festival 2007 were just a beginning."
CineGrid: Darcy Gerbarg, darcy @ cinegrid.org