Verance, Dolby, KPBS Test 3.0 Personalized Audio
Verance Corp. and Dolby today announced they successfully completed a test of internet-delivered dialogue enhancement, one of several compelling next-gen TV personalized audio experiences for San Diego public media KPBS.
The test, which took place in February and included the Verance Aspect watermark and Dolby AC-4, successfully demonstrated that the dialogue enhancement feature of Dolby AC-4 can be delivered as a standalone audio stream over the internet and paired with video delivered through a live linear broadcast.
The pairing was made seamlessly, the companies said, with precise broadband audio and broadcast video synchronization, and delivered over all MVPD paths, including cable and satellite.
The results are well-timed, the companies said, since TV makers are expected to introduce millions of ATSC 3.0-enabled TVs to the market starting in 2020 and broadcasters are increasingly focused on developing next-gen TV applications. In fact, new advanced audio features have been identified as key reasons to purchase an ATSC 3.0 television within recent consumer studies conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates.
“The dialogue enhancement technology provided by Verance and Dolby is a real game changer,” said Bruce Rogow, associate general manager, KPBS operations and technology division. “We have received complaints from viewers about background music and sounds drowning out the voices in shows and have worked diligently to improve the quality and discernibility of dialogue throughout the production process. Because so much of our content comes from outside sources, it has been a very challenging issue. The technology from Verance and Dolby is an effective tool.”
Within the broadcast chain, Aspect plays an essential role in delivering leading next-gen capabilities such as personalization, interactivity and census-like audience measurement to 100% of televisions across all distribution paths, including ATSC 1.0 and 3.0 over-the-air, cable/satellite (MVPD) and over-the-top services. Without Aspect, only televisions receiving 3.0 over-the-air transmissions are expected to be able to support next-gen experiences (less than 20% of all televisions).
The Dolby AC-4 Encoder powers multiple personalized audio experiences. In addition to dialogue enhancement, it enables audio replacement, a next-gen TV capability that allows broadcasters to go beyond the main and secondary audio available and provide viewers with access to many alternate languages. It also enables alternative commentary, a capability that allows broadcasters to offer different commentaries such as hometown announcers during live sports.
Now that dialogue enhancement has been successfully delivered within a live linear 1.0 broadcast environment, Verance and Dolby say they plan to replicate the test with an ATSC 3.0 broadcaster.
“Together with Verance and KPBS, we have proven the value and the impact Dolby AC-4 can play in hybrid broadcasts and demonstrated the growing importance of next-generation features like better audibility, also known as dialogue enhancement,” said Mathias Bendull, VP, multi-screen services audio, Dolby Laboratories. “Not just a feature for the hearing impaired, dialogue enhancement also enables all viewers to have a better experience when dialogue is harder to hear, like in a noisy room.”
Joe Winograd, CTO of Verance, said: “This test was a huge accomplishment for our businesses and validates the seamless delivery of personalized audio experiences delivered over MVPD paths. Broadcasters investing in the development of Next Gen TV applications can now proceed with confidence, knowing that these applications are capable of reaching 100% of U.S. households, including the 80% of viewers currently using MVPD services.”