National Theatre Live to Broadcast "War Horse" in 4K

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Since 2009 the National Theatre in London has been broadcasting selected productions to Digital Cinemas around the world. On the 27th of February they have set a new standard when they broadcasted "War Horse" live via satellite in 4K.

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London's National Theatre have been at the forefront of the live transmission of theatrical performances into digital cinemas worldwide. In fact since 2009 they have broadcast more than 20 productions to over 500 digitally equipped Cinemas around the world, where they have been watched by over 1.5 million people.

As well as the live broadcasts recordings are made so that they can also be repeated later to fit in with local time zones and demand.

Watch the Making Of War Horse

Up until now the broadcasts have been in HD, but on the 27th of February they were shooting and transmitting their stage production of Michael Morpugo's play "War Horse" in 4K.

Creative Broadcast Solutions and NEP Visions have been working with National Theatre Live for some time. Now they were working together with Sony to create the infrastructure to enable live 4K transmission.

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Creative Broadcast Solutions (CBS), Technical Producer for NT Live, with NEP Visions, NT Live’s long-term OB partner will work with Sony, using Sony’s F55 Super CineAlta cameras equipped with Fujinon Cabrio lenses to capture the performance. NEP Visions will provide the technical infrastructure and expertise to take the 4K content from camera to satellite, as well as recording and broadcasting a simultaneous HD version.

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The cameras were feeding 4K content into Sony BPU4000 fibre adapters which generated 4K and HD signals simultaneously, the feeds were then sent to a 4K capable vision mixer to create the live mix from the six camera feeds, adding graphics and subtitles (for the HD version only). Pre-recorded supplementary programme materials have been ingested onto a Sony media server to play in. The live mix was passed to the satellite service provider Links Broadcast. The mix feed was recorded on a Sony MasterDeck, both for archive and the creation of a 4K DCP master that will be sent to theatres around the world. NEP Visions also recorded 4K ISOs onto two additional Sony MasterDecks for later use. As well as the groundbreaking 4K presentation, NEP Visions provided a simultaneous live HD feed for distribution by Links Broadcast to over 1000 cinemas worldwide in line with NT Live’s existing programme of broadcasts.

Links Broadcast provided the satellite uplink and downlink facilities to enable the delivery of the War Horse 4K signal from the New London Theatre in to the Curzon Cinema in Chelsea. The Links Broadcast 4K uplink operated alongside Links’ HD uplink facility and enabled the encoding of the incoming 4K content. Using four synchronous Adtec EN-100 encoders the incoming signal was combined in to a single transport stream via an Adtec DTA3050 multiplexor for onward transmission via a 1.5m antenna on Links Broadcast’s 4K uplink vehicle.

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The  4K signal was uplinked on to SES Astra’s 3B satellite using 36Mhz of capacity in order to achieve the maximum possible video data rate within the modulated 4K transport stream.

The incoming signal was downlinked at the Curzon cinema in Chelsea via a 1.8M Links Broadcast receive antenna which was fed in to Adtec RD70 receiver decoders and was delivered to Sony’s 4K cinema facility for the projection.

Decoded 4K pictures were fed directly to Curzon Chelsea’s Sony projector, with four times the detail of 2K or conventional HD television pictures, Sony 4K brings audiences unmatched levels of immersive detail and realism.

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Emma Keith, Producer, NT Live, commented, "NT Live is delighted to be at the forefront of this new technology and to continue being at the cutting edge of live broadcast, particularly with our production of War Horse, which at its heart is a show which involves some spectacular puppetry – an art form which is thought to have originated over 5000 years ago."

David Bush, Head of Marketing at Sony Professional, Sony Europe added," At the heart of Sony DNA is the will to push technological boundaries always further. Being able to demonstrate, with the help of partners, a worldwide first live 4K workflow from stage to screen, on a project as well loved and renowned as War Horse, represents a true milestone in the development of 4K technology."

First produced at the National Theatre in 2007, War Horse has gone on to become an international hit, with shows in Australia, America and Berlin. This 4K screening brought the show to audiences worldwide in stunning quality.

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