The French legend’s December Paris end-of-tour concert became his first live 360-degrees video streaming. Mediability provided the live solution.
Some 20,000 people were present as Jean-Michel Jarre ended his world tour in Paris on 12 December.
But thanks to a Norwegian partnership providing the right technology, far more people than that could follow the spectacular show live in 360 degrees – or virtual reality – via YouTube.
Like being there
The concert was captured with a 360-degrees camera in 4K resolution by Oslo-based Screen Media. The company began their cooperation with the French superstar earlier in the autumn.
Anyone wearing a pair of VR glasses could experience the concert as if they were right there among the audience.
Mediability Norway, partnering with US-based Elemental Technologies, provided the VR encoding software and hardware solutions
“Recording in 4K 360-degrees is still new and developing technology, and streaming this kind of material live has never been done on YouTube before as far as we know,” says Knut Vegard Fosse, Product Manager with Mediability Norway.
A major encoding challenge
TV 2-owned Screen Media got in touch with Mediability late last year for help with how to prepare 4K 360-degrees video for live streaming.
”Capturing this kind of material is one thing, but transmitting it live presents you with a major encoding challenge,” says Fosse.
The recording is done using a Nokia OZO 360˚ virtual reality camera, which is a sphere comprising of eight cameras. The raw footage is made up of large amounts of data in a 4K format.
Must find the “sweet spot”
“All this needs to be compressed to the right bitrate for secure online transmission without compromising quality. You will also need to make different versions which can be viewed on many different sized screens,” explains Fosse.
“We are talking an amazing number of pixels which must be manipulated, and it must happen instantaneously. You have to find the “sweet spot” – a bitrate which allows for online streaming while being of the highest possible quality.”
Solved the challenge
“Mediability’s expertise as a system integrator was key for the advanced solution which allowed Screen Media to live-stream Jean-Michel Jarre’s spectacular tour-ending show,” says Haavard Hana, TV producer with Screen Media.
“When we have huge amounts of data which needs encoding in order to be streamed live, we are completely dependent on the close cooperation with people who have this highly specialised skill.”
Breaking new ground
This kind of live-streaming using VR technology is breaking new technological ground.
”Earlier we filmed Jean-Michel Jarre’s latest music video in 360 degrees during his Amsterdam concert, but that was not for a live transmission,” says Haavard Hana.
“Just a few weeks before his Paris concert, YouTube launched 4K 360 video live streaming, so this show was one of the very first professional concerts to be live-streamed using 4K 360 on YouTube.
”Jean-Michel Jarre himself thought it was great to be able to stream his show live in 360 degrees. He is very keen to let people who are not able to physically attend his performances be there in virtual reality,” says Hana.
Live experiences ready to take off
Knut Vegard Fosse is in no doubt that this kind of live experiences will be important for many people in the future.
“Virtual reality and 360-degrees video is already making waves in the gaming world. But I believe live-streaming events can become the real driver for this technology.
“Just imagine the added value of being able to experience a concert, a sports event or other major happenings using VR glasses as it happens, no matter where in the world that might be,” he says.
Totally dependent on top image quality
Yet to create a convincing illusion of “being there” you have to be able to offer the best possible image quality.
“There is still room for the video technology in 360-degrees cameras to mature, and further improvements to video quality will be key,” says Knut Vegard Fosse.
“People spend more and more hours watching video over so-called Over-The-Top platforms, like Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services, and mobile screens are taking over from traditional TV. Young viewers are adopting new technology at a fast pace, 360 video might very well fit into this picture.