The National Theatre’s “Hamlet” with Benedict Cumberbatch will be broadcast live in 4K

by on October 8, 2015

Stephan Jukic – October 08, 2015

The upcoming 12 week engagement of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is set to start presenting at the Barbican Theater as of the 15th of October and with a cast that includes acclaimed actor Benedict Cumberbatch, the entire run of performances unsurprisingly sold out completely within just a few minutes, despite having gone on sale nearly a year ago.

Thus, numerous fans of theater, Cumberbatch and Shakespeare were obviously left rather disappointed without access to a live performance.

However, not all is lost, as the performance will be available for digital viewing in 4K ultra HD resolution, a video medium that’s just about the closest thing to being present in person in terms of clarity and sharpness, at least for now.

In a partnership with U.K Cinema operator Vue Entertainment and National Theatre Live, Sony Digital Cinema 4K is going to show off their 4K video broadcasting chops by presenting a live 4K UHD broadcast of Benedict Cumberbatch and the rest of the “Hamlet” cast to audiences in Vue cinemas throughout the United Kingdom.

The broadcast will in fact mark the first time that a theatrical performance will be delivered to a live public audience across multiple locations in projected 4K ultra HD resolution.

At the very least, thousands of viewers who missed out on the chance to get their hands on tickets to the live event in the flesh will now be able to share most of the same magic thanks to the Sony, U.K Cinema and Vue effort.

According to David McIntosh, vice president of Sony Digital Cinema Solutions for Europe and the Americas, “If there’s an artistic medium that’s naturally suited to the immersive detail and realism of 4K, it’s got to be live theater.. Cinema projection in 4K delivers the best possible image quality, which enhances the event cinema experience so that the performance can be enjoyed whether you are in the live theater or watching in a cinema. 4K is the next step in even cinema production as it provides a truly immersive viewing opportunity”

Sony will be deploying their powerful PMW-F55 professional 4K video production cameras to film the event at the Barbican Theater and the cameras in question, equipped a 4K sensor and hooked to ultra-broadband connections, will transmit the video they capture in full Cinema grade 4K resolution at a smooth and very realistic 50 frames per second to the selected theaters that will broadcast the live feed.

One of Sony's F55 4K video production cameras, being used to film the live "Hamlet Production"

One of Sony’s F55 4K video production cameras, being used to film the live “Hamlet Production”

The captured video will be mastered in 4K UHD resolution at 3840 x 2160 pixels and then modified as a 4K DCP for cinema projection at 4096 x 2160 pixels. This in turn should fully realize the detail, contrast, color gamut and realism of the actual live performance. Furthermore, storage of the live feed in both 4K and Full HD will give National Theater Live the ability to keep the footage on hand for all possible distribution needs.

Sony’s F55 4K cameras are widely considered to be masterpieces of professional UHD digital video production and are not at all strangers to the world of live event filming. Japanese state broadcasting giant NHK recently used these same cameras to capture several Major League Baseball events in the US recently, for testing of their capacity to also do live transmissions of major events in ultra HD and the same cameras have also previously been used by Sony in other theater filming experiments in the U.K in September, when another National Theatre production, of “The Beaux Strategem” was also shot and transmitted for encore screenings to Vue Cinemas in 4K DCP.

Even further back, in 2014, Sony and Vue Entertainment partnered up to capture and deliver to matches from the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil for a live screening at one of Vue’s cinemas in the Westfield multiplex in London.

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