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Highlights from Networked Performing Arts Workshop

Apr 18, 2017, by Ann Doyle
Tags: Arts & Humanities, Events, Frontpage News, International

Daily Travel Diary

Sunday April 2:

"Good news!" reports our host, Thomas Solak of the Royal Danish Academy of Music. "LOLA node and HD Polycom both running to an MCU in Prague for the past 20 minutes – zero packet loss." That is good news! Quick request for a wifi speed test. My Comcast software on my iPhone report 96.49 Mbps download, 117.98 Mbps upload. Not bad! Chairs on this side of the screen instead of that side; drape hung here instead of there; ladders, gaffe tape, mixing boards, podiums - Fazioli and Steinway Pianos in every room. Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen is about to be transformed into the host venue for the best-attended Networked Performing Arts Workshop – now in its 14th year. A workshop where innovation and breadth of adoption are both promoted and honored.

The Program Committee welcome and final planning dinner was generously hosted by GÉANT sponsor Sigita Jurkynaite and included our Royal Danish Academy hosts Marianne Jakobsen, Thomas Solak, Theis Munthe-Bruun, Stine Johanne Thiesen, and Jesper Anderson. With Emma Smith, Jisc; Claudio Allocchio, GARR; Stefano Bonetti, Conservatorio Tartini; Justin Trieger, New World Symphony, Tania Lisboa, Royal College of Music – UK, and Sven Ubik, CESNET.

Shaking off jet lag with a walk to the wharf

Monday April 3:

82 attendees from 28 countries arrive. The day was designed with a pre-workshop tutorial by Justin Trieger, New World Symphony, for a basic technology overview which included a core understanding of multiple technologies for education, multisite performance, auditions, and one-way streaming of live performances. Four elements: ease of use, audio/video quality, latency, accessibility (how widely the platform is used in the performing arts space) are included in the evaluation of each platform.

Historically - H.323 (2-6Mbps, wide-spread adoption, HD), DVTS (developed by WIDE colleagues in Japan for medical applications), ConferenceXP (can independently allocate bandwidth to video/audio - small video and uncompressed audio if working with locations with limited bandwidth), UltraGrid (developed by Czech Republic R&E network, 4K/8K resolution, cross platform – any computer), and LOLA (developed and sponsored by GARR and the Conservatorio Tartini (Lowest latency, Windows only, multi-channel audio, variable resolutions, professional audio capture card. 800 Mbps so requires a Gig connectivity, does not play well with firewalls, need a location in the network that does not have security measures, and requires specialized USB3 camera.). Theme of overview: define your activity first, then choose the technology best suited to your goals.

The workshop was officially kicked off with introductions by Royal Danish Academy of Music President, Bertel Krarup; DeiC CEO, Martin Bech, GÉANT sponsor, Sigita Jurkynaite, and Internet2 sponsor, Ann Doyle.

The first day included an overview by Jesper Anderson, Royal Danish Academy, of sound set up for distance learning and performance, and technical updates for the most commonly used platforms by Stefano Bonetti, Conservatorio Tartini; Claudio Allocchio, GARR; Sven Ubik, CESNET; and Mike Dee, Manhattan School of Music on: LOLA, Ultragrid, low latency FPGA tools, and Polycom HD.

Monday evening reception was sponsored by Senheiser and followed by a beautifully choreographed cyber-performance directed by Sven Ubik including: Copenhagen, Barcelona, Miami dancers, musicians, and videographer.

The beautiful Royal Danish Academy of Music auditorium

Tuesday, April 4:

A morning of researcher presentations on the dynamics of teaching, learning and performing with LOLA and comparable technologies - Paul Ferguson and Gill Davies (who was out of the country but whose research Paul highlighted), Edinburgh Napier University; Ben Redman, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Tania Lisboa, Royal College of Music, UK.

Many similar observations for teaching and performance, many questions for the future - the biggest consensus is the communication required at a distance is forcing students, instructors and performers to be more conscious about their process – and to be able to communicate about it with positive implications for blended learning and teaching.

LOLA update: Stefano Bonetti. Working on multiple site application and how to manage the different latencies, and the A/V set up, immersive sound/spatialization with 48KHz Audio sampling, multi-view points and PIP, replay on the fly and digital zoom in/out (AOI), portrait and landscape video mode, and support for third party plugins.

Claudio Allocchio, LOLA update continued - camera presets help the teacher/student moving about, PIP so you can see if you're within the camera shot, and now the ability to create your own presets and save your presets by name/file. Trouble shooting - if something is going wrong, there is a window that checks packet loss real time with a check button measuring milliseconds to/from the remote site as a round-trip measurement, a built-in chat window that works even if your connection is not successful, and the ability to control the other machine via the chat window so you can trouble shoot the remote site. The development team may work with Senheiser on binaural sound and headphones, including a request to mic the breath of the musician and also mic the audience so musicians can feel their presence.

LOLA wish list: firewall is always a sticking point - we always have to bypass firewall because of the fast packet rate. Is there a way to either do firewall traversal or compression to lower date rate? IPV6 version of LOLA will work better with network firewalls. Then we need to work better with endpoint firewalls. Audio buffer realignment? CPU of the machine most often causes this. Inside the machine, the audio card and video card are not fast enough. Get a faster CPU. Goal: Trying to establish a few suppliers that can build a pre-configured LOLA machine. Ask supplier for the list of components and have them assemble it. Early success with this in Europe. Need to identify a supplier in the U.S.

Drama School wants professional cameras with LOLA. The problem is in the camera - LOLA team working with camera developers/producers about this. But when they approached commercial camera manufacturers, they ask "how many cameras will we sell??" Not enough to justify their R&D. Claudio needs access to the internal workings of the camera – an API for lower layer control of camera – not just the output. Working with camera developers to encourage this.

Finally - a wrap up session by Ann Doyle, Internet2, summarizing the research findings and opening the session to attendees for Question and Answer, observations and implications for the future.

Tuesday night performance event produced and directed by Ian Biscoe and Jana Bitterova. Musicians and dancers from London, Barcelona and Copenhagen produced an audio and visual feast within video design rendered spaces that brought the talent into a cohesive new realm and world. The talent was extraordinary – and joined us the next day for a lively Question and Answer session.

Royal Danish Academy hosted the conference attendees post-performance for a lovely dinner in their dining hall.

Wednesday, April 5:

The final day of the workshop focused on creative uses of the technology including Coriolanus Online - a student multi-site Shakespeare production between the University of Tampere, Finland, and Coventry University, UK. This was followed by a fascinating sports science, medical, music application involving the use of Motion Capture technology with Cambridge rowing team – where data sonification created "melodies" that contrasted proper form rowing vs. fatigued injury-prone rowing to aid athletes in physiotherapy. This demonstration included a duet with a live rower and flutist playing to the rower's data sonification. Finally, the workshop ended with an inspiring presentation by Mary Barnett, The LOLA Library in Gig City Chattanooga. Mary's work is creative, inventive, and, in conjunction with Internet2's U.S. UCAN program, has created a community model for the future.

Wrap-up by Ann Doyle, Internet2, summarized the three-day workshop with questions, answers and a look to the future for this innovation rich community of collaborators.

The 2018 Networked Performing Arts Workshop will be co-sponsored by Internet2 and GÉANT and hosted by New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida.

Editor's note: Copenhagen, where bicycles abound, car drivers notably refrain from using their horns, and this blogger walked to her hotel on her own approaching midnight each evening – without fear for personal safety, was a lovely place to visit. Danish culture and colleagues and their beautiful city will be forever remembered as a career and personal highlight.

Good night, Copenhagen