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UK reports progress on first-ever 5G festival

The second set of trials, testing how much audio latency could be tolerated by musicians playing together remotely, were deemed a "huge success"

By IQ on 20 Aug 2021

The Remotes performed from two different venues for the 5G festival trials

The Remotes performed from two different venues for the 5G festival trials


The world’s first-ever 5G-powered festival is on track to take place early next year in the UK, following another successful round of trials.

Led by 5G specialist Digital Catapult and funded by the department for digital, culture, media & sport (DCMS), the 5G Festival will combine elements of live, in-person performance, remote collaboration and augmented reality.

The most recent trials utilised a group of experienced session musicians called The Remotes (‘the most data divided band in the UK’) to test how much audio latency (delay) can be tolerated for a group of performers to be able to play together remotely.

The vocalist, bass player, lead guitarist and keyboard player were set up to play in either the Concert Hall or the Founders Room in the Brighton Dome whilst 60 miles away at Metropolis Studios in London a drummer and another vocalist were located.

With musical direction from Kojo Samuel (Stormzy, Jess Glynne and Dave), the group performed using augmented reality (AR) glasses, livestreaming through a 5G network-ready 360° content distribution platform and an innovative immersive audio mixing interface.

“We were able to start pushing the boundaries of what 5G and immersive technology is able to do”

Though the band couldn’t perform together physically – or take cues from each other – in real life, the individual performers were able to collaborate using technology to recreate the same kind of rehearsal/performance as a band performing together on one stage.

For the audience, the technology will create a more ’emotionally connected experience’ in-venue and through AR, virtual reality and 360° video will enable streaming into their own homes on their preferred viewing device, or from one venue to another.

The next trials will introduce a third venue for testing the spatial hybrid elements, culminating in a live public event due to take place in March 2022.

“These trials were a major success with the network performing as expected and we were able to start pushing the boundaries of what 5G and immersive technology is able to do,” says Dritan Kaleshi, director of 5G Technology at Digital Catapult.

“It was actually quite an emotional experience for all involved – for the first time in such a long while, we’re hearing and seeing live music being performed, from an incredible band across two iconic venues. It feels real now. This collaboration of organisations is a creative and technical tour de force, and the effort which has been poured into this project is now starting to bear fruit.”

“This collaboration of organisations is a creative and technical tour de force”

The 5G Festival is part of the wider £200 million 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme (5GTT) funded by DCMS, that will produce a 5G powered, virtual, live immersive collaboration platform for artists.

It is hoped that the 5G Festival will help create a more sustainable live music industry and help to future-proof business models for venues and festivals adversely affected by global risks (such as coronavirus and climate change).

Digital Catapult is spearheading the project along with Warner Music Group, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, Telefonica, London’s Metropolis Studios and Sonosphere (immersive audio and live streaming).

Audiotonix (audio mixing consoles and AoIP networking), Mativision (5G, 360° immersive live streaming and distribution platform), LiveFrom (blockchain ticketing) and Wired Sussex (Brighton 5G testbed partner) are also involved.

 


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