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The regular broadcasting of live stage performances to cinema was pioneered by the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Starting with an abridged version of 'The Magic Flute' in December 2006 the Met broadcast five more live performances from the 2006-7 season. Since then the number of performances each season has increased. The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, followed with a performance of 'Don Giovanni' in September 2008. The Royal Opera house now broadcasts around twelve performances a season of both operas and ballets. The Royal National Theatre, London, started broadcasting plays in June 2009 with a perfomance of 'Phedre'. NT Live seasons now include productions from other theatres. In the UK the Royal Shakespeare Company, Glyndebourne Festival Opera and The Globe contribute several events a year. Other companies around the world now broadcast productions live, including Opera de Paris, Bolshoi and Opera Australia.
To allow for different time zones and encore screenings these live productions may be recorded and re-broadcast by satellite or distributed as DCPs.
Whilst most productions are opera and ballet, plays form a significant proportion of the regular content. Occasional performances from other genre are produced, Monty Python's 'One Down Five to Go', 'Billy Elliott, the Musical',The British Museum's Pompeii exhibition, 'John le Carré: An Evening with George Smiley' and Take That from the O2 are a few examples from the UK. Film premieres, combined with red carpet coverage and live Q&A are also broadcast live to cinemas.
Peter was the technical manager responsible for all the Royal Opera House's productions until 2014. He continues to oversee the subtitling operation. Recently he has started working with Creative Broadcast Solutions as a transmission manager for the live events that they are responsible for.
High quality live events for cinema are a significant undertaking which require extensive planning and production using experienced personnel from across the industry. Please read the downloadable introduction to production for live event cinema that Peter wrote for the Event Cinema Association's Technical Delivery Handbook.
Testing of the transmission path and cinema installations is essential for live event cinema. All live events should be preceded by tests designed to check cinema installations. Langdale Broadcast has developed an efficient test sequence that checks the basic features of cinemas' installations for live events. This test is available for any distributors or content providers who would like to use it. A link to a copy of the test on Vimeo is on this page. It is not the full version as 5.1 audio is not available for videos on Vimeo. Please contact Langdale Broadcast about using the full version.
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