New World Symphony Goes 4K with Hitachi Cameras

America’s Orchestral Academy installs 12 Hitachi Kokusai SK-UHD4000 cameras in phase one of an end-to-end 4K upgrade to support its outdoor WALLCAST concert series and other key artistic programs.

Hitachi Kokusai Electric America has partnered with New World Symphony, an orchestral academy based in Miami Beach, to help transition the live production of its outdoor WALLCAST concert experiences and other productions to native 4K UHD resolution. Along with Christie projectors, the HITACHI SK-UHD4000 cameras represent the first phase of an end-to-end 4K video infrastructure upgrade at the New World Center, campus of the New World Symphony. The multi-format capabilities of the Hitachi cameras will allow the NWS production team to operate the cameras in 1080p HD mode until the remaining infrastructure, including routing and switching gear, is upgraded to 4K.

The seasonal WALLCAST concerts, which this year begin October 15, aim to attract and engage new audiences for classical music. Projected live on a 100x70-foot section of the building façade, spectators enjoy a mix of unique performances from New World Symphony Fellows and globally-recognized musicians in the open air space of the adjoining SoundScape Park. The performances, which take place inside New World Symphony’s performance hall, will be captured by 12 SK-UHD4000 cameras and delivered to the Christie system for live projection. An immersive audio experience powered by more than 100 Meyer Sound loudspeakers complements the stunning video simulcasts.

While NWS’ WALLCAST concerts will first benefit from the upgrade, numerous activities throughout the organization will also be enhanced, including its educational concerts and webcasts; recorded master classes; groundbreaking experimental music videos; image magnification at select concerts; business development events; third-party rentals of the center involving recording or webcasts; and NWS’ archival concert recordings.

New World Symphony President and CEO Howard Herring explained that “We bring video, music and theater together in our orchestral presentations,” said Herring. “A major advantage of the Hitachi cameras is the ability to capture all of these elements in low light. This will allow us to make our WALLCAST concerts more vivid, theatrical, sophisticated and intriguing for our 3000-plus attendees at every performance. While the moviemakers of the world regularly shoot in low light, this is not yet commonplace in the orchestral world. The ability of these cameras to pristinely capture images of the performances in the theater as they happen will make these events that much more powerful.”

Herring adds that Hitachi Kokusai, Christie, and other vendors involved in the first phase of its technology upgrade—including Fujifilm (lenses) and Telemetrics (camera robotics)—have been instrumental in bringing New World Symphony’s future vision to life.

“When we started down this 4K path, we were not only looking for machines or products; we were looking for partners,” he said. “All of these companies have listened carefully and addressed our goal in making a true impact on the Miami Beach community, as well as the greater orchestral community. It is not easy to adapt technology to something as specific as orchestral performance, and Hitachi Kokusai has been especially smart and creative in helping us achieve our goals. We now have a partner to help us build on our technical foundation.”

Hitachi Kokusai UHD4000 camera on Telemetrics head above concert platform.

Hitachi Kokusai UHD4000 camera on Telemetrics head above concert platform.

“The SK-UHD4000 is a whisper-quiet camera—extremely important when capturing live orchestral performances, and this camera excelled against the competition,” said Ross. “In a concert hall with dramatic performances, it often comes down to one pinpoint light on the oboe player’s finger in a pitch-dark hall. Upon testing a recorded 4K signal magnified to 400 percent in a very dimly lit room, the HITACHI SK-UHD4000’s still looked impressively pristine, with no noise in the blacks. That was a big deal, and to me one of the most amazing things you’ll see.”

Each Hitachi camera could be configured to pass 4K video through the infrastructure today using a quad-link configuration with four BNC connections. However, both Ross and New World Symphony director of video production Clyde Scott are happy to await maturation of 4K technology throughout the chain before making a full transition from HD.

The 2016-17 WALLCAST season, which will comprise 11 live events, commences October 15 with an orchestral concert featuring conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and pianist Emanuel Ax.

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