Edinburgh Napier University and the Royal College of Music (RCM) have linked up to demonstrate the power of the Janet network in supporting collaborative performances across remote locations.
The advanced network, whose latest edition, Janet6, was officially launched by Jisc at an event at the London Film Museum, has been designed to address future demands for high capacity connectivity. At the launch event, guests were treated to a unique musical performance which saw musicians from both the Royal College of Music, based in London, and Edinburgh Napier University playing simultaneously, in real-time, via audio video streaming.
This technological feat was achieved using LOLA (LOw LAtency Audio Visual Streaming System) technology, via the Janet network. Using state-of-the-art 100 gigabit ethernet technology, the network provides excellent bandwidth and low latency, which made the simultaneous musical performance possible.
Despite being hundreds of miles apart, three musicians performed a number of arrangements, including tango numbers by Piazzolla. The collaboration used latency of approximately 40-75ms round trip, which ensured there was no perceptible delay and the demonstration was seamless. Apart from enabling collaborative performances, LOLA has the potential to link experts from around the world for master classes and rehearsals, without the added expense of travel and time to get to remote venues. It opens up a world of possibilities for the creative industry, enabling new types of art to work in different spaces at the same time.
Tim Marshall, the executive director responsible for Jisc technology and infrastructure including Janet and the Janet6 programme, spoke about the LOLA demonstration at the launch event.
“The musical performance between the Royal College of Music and Edinburgh Napier University almost 400 miles away, was a visual manifestation of the capabilities of the new Janet network. Launching this flexible network infrastructure to the research and education sectors will encourage experimentation and ensure that ambitious projects such as this will continue. Janet6 has the power and capacity to support the UK in its quest to remain at the forefront of global innovation for years to come.”
Dr Paul Ferguson, lecturer in the School of Arts and Creative Industries at Edinburgh Napier University said:
“It was great to be involved in such an exciting project and to see the culmination of a 14 month partnership with Janet using LOLA, to such stunning effect. Having access to such a high performance network has opened our eyes to the possibility of similar projects, not just with music; we are looking to deliver simultaneous performances with dance and drama too.
None of the musicians involved with the performance at the Janet launch had used the LOLA technology before we started rehearsing. They were blown away with the fact that they could play their instruments in perfect synchronicity with others hundreds of miles away. We have just started working on a project with Janet that will link performances between Edinburgh Napier University and sites in Italy and the Czech Republic. The power of the Janet6 network will certainly continue to raise our ambitions.”
Matt Parkin, from the Royal College of Music said:
“The Royal College of Music has a history of being at the forefront of music technology – the first electronic music studio in any UK educational institution was established at the RCM in 1967 – so we’re thrilled to be working with Janet and the LOLA system because it’s another game changer. Nothing before has allowed classical musicians to actually play together over these kinds of distances. And with the quality and speed of the Janet link, they don’t have to compromise at all.
Musicians are always astonished by how transparent the Janet/LOLA connection is. You actually notice it just as much when they’re chatting together in rehearsal as when they’re playing, because unlike any previous video conference system, there is no perceptible delay at all, so it’s just like they’re in the same room. And whereas traditional ‘live links’ have relied on delays or click tracks to create an illusion of musicians playing together, audiences can now experience a truly live, synchronous performance between musicians hundreds of miles apart for the first time.
The combination of Janet and LOLA promises to revolutionise music rehearsals, teaching and performance, and opens up a host of new possibilities for collaborations which we at the RCM look forward to exploring further.”