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Eurovision Gets Immersive with Fraunhofer IIS

The first trial for live production of immersive and interactive sound using the MPEG-H TV Audio System took place at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest.

Lisbon, Portugal (May 24, 2018)—The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and Fraunhofer IIS report that they successfully conducted the first trial for live production of immersive and interactive sound using the MPEG-H TV Audio System at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in Lisbon, Portugal.

Lisbon’s Altice Arena was equipped with 232 microphones in total. In addition to the microphones on the stage, presenters, guests and green room, 26 microphones were installed exclusively to capture the auditorium ambience.

For the trial, Fraunhofer sound engineers installed a height dimension to the microphone setup, enabling them to produce an immersive and personalized audio mix live, with a dedicated surround microphone array in a “Hamasaki Square” configuration 26 meters (85 ft.) above the ground.

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The four figure-of-eight microphones arranged in a square form were used to capture the ambient, diffuse sound in the arena. Fraunhofer’s engineers were able to use the audio feeds from the main production and the 37 feeds for monitors in commentary booths for production of the immersive mix, in addition to the stereo and 5.1 mixes provided by the EBU and its production team.

The immersive mix was produced for reproduction on a 5.1+4H (5.1 plus four height speakers) target configuration. Using the MPEG-H Audio authoring and monitoring tools, all music and ambience audio feeds as well as up to five different languages for the commentaries as individual objects were mixed into one stream.

Various MPEG-H presets—versions of the mix such as “Default,” “Dialogue Enhancement” or “Venue”—were authored live, together with metadata describing the personalization and interactivity options.

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All presets, downmixes to various configurations, different Dynamic Range Control (DRC) modes and interactivity features were monitored using the 5.1+4H speaker setup as well as binaural rendering over headphones. The MPEG-H TV Audio System’s personalization features, such as language selection, dialogue enhancement or position interactivity, could be experienced with an MPEG-H player installed on a tablet providing an interface for these features.

Broadcast annually since 1956, the ESC is the world’s longest-running international television music competition and one of the most-watched non-sporting events in the world, with a current estimated audience of 200 million.

Fraunhofer IIS •