DDD60 – a pan-European research project designed to develop and introduce cutting edge video compression and delivery technology to provide high-quality virtual reality content - today announces its final results.

Launched in January 2017, DDD60 aims to increase the quality in which 360° VR is seen and experienced in order to more closely match the quality in which the films are being produced.

The main results of the project include:
● development of a high quality H.265 encoder for 360° video;
● issuing of a new set of guidelines for master file creation of 360° VR films; and
● launch of a new 360° server-based VR library for the film industry.

H.265 Encoder For 360° Video The H.265 encoder previously developed by Spin Digital has been extended with new algorithmic optimizations and tools for better encoding of 360° video, which allows for compression at very high quality and at a low bandwidth and file size. Bitrate reductions (at the same quality) up to 37.4% have been obtained compared with popular open-source encoders. The resulting videos are compatible with most popular 360° media players for PC and mobile platforms.

Guidelines for Master File Creation of 360° VR films The newly launched guidelines aim to help 360° VR film content producers to prepare master files with the highest possible quality for submission to film festivals, markets, VoD platforms and distributors. Master files produced according to these guidelines will enable service providers to generate compressed versions for high quality screenings to target viewers. Overall, the guidelines allow content creators and services providers - venues and film festivals with VR screenings - to ensure that 360° media files are played at the highest quality possible and, at the same time, that the files remain compatible with the more common VR/360° video players for PC and mobile platforms.

360° VR Library The VR library introduces established workflows of the media industry for the screening of films to potential buyers, press and the public for VR projects. All VR projects are stored on a single server, providing practically unlimited space for content. From the server, VR projects can be distributed to dozens of devices at the same time, providing detailed statistics on usage and performance. The library is device-agnostic, with playout possible to devices such as the HTC Vive and the Windows Mixed reality headsets.

Project Partners Behind the technology project is Reelport (Germany), who deliver one of the largest VoD services in the film industry, and Spin Digital (Germany), specialists in video coding for high quality media. Testing and showcasing the software through VR exhibition and VoD markets are the project’s Film & TV industry partners – Marche du Film - Festival de Cannes (France), among the largest film markets in the world, Tampere Film Festival (Finland), Sunny Side of the Doc (France), and Sheffield Doc/Fest (UK).

Industry Impact Across the 18-month project, 360° film projects have been presented using the new codec at VR Libraries powered by DDD60 as part of Tampere Short Film Festival in Finland - which attracted 800 industry delegates in March 2018, and as part of NEXT, the VR program and venue at Marché du Film in Cannes - Next attracted more than 2,000 industry delegates over 6 days in May 2018. Further members of the film, television and tech industries will be reached as part of the forthcoming Sheffield Doc/Fest’s Alternate Realities Exhibition and Doc/Player VoD market (7-12 June), and at Sunny Side of the Doc’s VoD market (25-28 June).

Beyond this, the results of the project have been shared through several panel sessions and presentations at Tampere Film Festival and Marche du Film, as well as tech conferences and trade fairs such as NAB and IBC, and film industry sessions globally. Tilman Scheel, CEO of Reelport will further present as part of a “Distribution of VR” session as part of Sales & Distribution Summit at Sheffield Doc/Fest (10 June).
The H.265 encoder developed by Spin Digital and enhanced for 360° video is going to be released as a product in July 2018. Several content creators and film festivals are using it already as a part of a beta testing program.
Reelport will provide the results of DDD60, such as the VR online and onsite libraries to the industry and make it available to film festivals also from July 2018.
The DDD60 project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 732717.