At the Interactive Technology in Education (ITEC) Conference at the Sydney Opera House last week, AARNet demonstrated the power of the network and LOLA technology for enabling synchronous music performances across remote sites.
LOLA is the LOw LAtency audio and video streaming technology developed by researchers from the G. Tartini Music Conservatory in Trieste, Italy, and GARR, the Italian Research and Education Network. The technology takes full advantage of the high-quality and very large bandwidth connectivity of research and education networks such as AARNet.
AARNet’s CEO Chris Hancock said, “Musicians playing together via videoconferencing is nothing new, but the typically large delay caused by processing and packaging the signal at both ends has significantly limited the experience. LOLA has been designed to virtually eliminate this latency and enables musicians located potentially thousands of kilometers apart to perform together in a natural way, as if they were in the same room.”
Ann Doyle, Director of Global Programs at Internet2, AARNet’s partner research network in the United States, and a driving force behind experimentation with LOLA for distance education in the performing arts, spoke at ITEC.
“The higher the video quality, the lower the latency, the more the content of the conversation becomes richer, more in depth, less about the logistics and more about teaching and learning and content. This is because it feels more natural and therefore the energy isn’t being taken up with the technology,” she said, explaining the experience LOLA delivers.
Delegates then enjoyed AARNet’s pilot demonstration of the LOLA technology, an Australian first. JS Bach and Alan Vizzutti duets were performed live by two Conservatorium High School students. Trumpeter Panayioti Karamanos, physically present with the ITEC delegates in the Utzon Room, performed via LOLA with Bassoonist Jordy Meulenbroeks, located in a studio at the Conservatorium, and the pair didn’t miss a beat.
For the students, being able to perform at an elevated artistic level via LOLA was a revelation. “The technology was amazing – as I got more confortable with it, I tried to change the tempo and it worked,” said Karamanos. The pair had previously tried to rehearse together over the Internet using other readily available technologies, and failed dismally.
In this demonstration LOLA enabled the overall latency to be reduced to roughly 35 milliseconds, which for a musician’s ear is similar to being on the same stage.
Ian Barker, Deputy Principal of the Conservatorium High School, said, “ the potential of this technology for our school is huge, for rehearsals and outreach, for interacting with our partners, such as the Children’s Choir and Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and for bringing teachers from all over the country to the Con.”
Hancock says AARNet is looking to develop relationships with music and other performing arts organisations around Australia to encourage creative experimentation across the range of performing arts.
For more information and to find out how to participate in a LOLA demonstration, please contact Nick Cross
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