‘America’s Orchestral Academy’ brings UHD quality in house and on the Wallcast.

MIAMI—New World Symphony is “America’s Orchestral Academy” and heavily involved in pushing the technology envelope. This entails everything from Lawo Ravenna audio to GrandMA lighting to advanced video production and display. Typically, concert halls aren’t necessarily associated with high tech, but the leadership of New World feels the way to give the audience a truly “encompassing” experience is to supplement the performance with technology.

Our primary in-house coverage includes concerts and “Wallcasts,” where we televise a concert live on the outside of our building using three 35,000 lumen 4K projectors on a portion of our front wall (100x60-feet). Besides archival purposes, we also stream concerts internationally, and even educational concerts nationally to classrooms around the country. Our external use of our video systems include everything from private events (which have included such luminaries as Bono, Katie Perry and former president George W. Bush) to public events like “The American Black Film Festival” and movie and TV premieres (“The Rock,” HBO’s “Ballers” season debut), to televised concerts (Gloria Estefan). Immediately after our 4K upgrade this fall, PBS plans to record a special event in our facility.

NOT READY FOR PRIMETIME

In 2016, we began evaluating 4K/UHD as we transitioned our HD into something more stimulating. We started by replacing our HD cameras with 12 Hitachi SK-UHD4000 UHD cameras and new robotics from Telemetrics in 2017. However the leap into full UHD production required technology that simply wasn’t ready for primetime. The quad-link (SQD/2SI) solution was wiring intensive, and switcher resources were reduced to a quarter of normal number of inputs and outputs under quad-link. The camera and robotic upgrades, under HD conditions, were noticeably better but not truly the exceptional experience we knew we’d see under UHD operation. We evaluated the idea of quad-link and even 4K-IP, but neither were desirable in our situation.

CLEARING THE PATH

Fast-forward to 2018. Last year manufacturers made some significant jumps in equipment that provide a single copper cable 12G solution. This didn’t resolve all of our problems but it did mean the path to UHD finally seemed attainable. In terms of what we needed, there were just two manufacturers with switchers big enough, and three manufacturers with routers that would work (note that 12G has yet to be accomplished on a router as big as 288x288 due to the bandwidth, chip manufacturing ability and RF-type properties of the 12G signal).

We began evaluating the equipment and spent countless hours going back and forth on options and, after a trip to Tokyo in November, were convinced that For-A had cleared our path to UHD with a significant amount of UHD gear. This included their Hanabi switcher, 12G 144x144 router and terminal gear. We also evaluated other manufacturers equipment to see if others had any better options, but soon were convinced that For-A had “nailed it.”

In December 2018, we did an initial RFP to evaluate additional costs and equipment. We took a “30,000-foot view” of the entire system, but certainly nothing as detailed as wiring diagrams. After some discussion, we hired Diversified to assist with the detailed UHD design of a significantly sized production system.

Our equipment list included:

  • 64x48 For-A 12G Hanabi Switcher with 3ME panel and 1ME sub-panel (in second control room)
  • 144x144 12G For-A Router
  • 18 For-A FA-9600 Multipurpose Signal Processors
  • Nine Frames of For-A terminal gear
  • A variety of AJA 12G to Fiber/Fiber to 12G transmitters/receivers
  • For-A 64x64 HD router (mainly for multiviewer router, but also for routing to our HD cable system)
  • For-A 64x8 HD Multiviewer
  • Six Panasonic AW-EU150 4K mini robotic cameras (for stage use)
  • A dozen Hitachi SK-UHD4000 4K studio cameras (wired for 14)
  • Nine Telemetrics robotic heads
  • Two Telemetrics “televators”
  • Four Telemetrics robotic controllers with SQL server
  • Two ClassX 12G CG’s (through For.A)
  • Four For-A dual-channel Insight 12G ProRes4444 Servers (one in/one out, two in, or two out)
  • Four AJA KiProUltra PLUS UHD Rec/Players
  • 1.8 PB storage system (TBD)
  • Media Asset Management system (TBD)

This list is certainly not complete but includes most of the main gear under this part of our UHD upgrade.

Though multiviewer monitoring takes place in HD, the control room also has full UHD monitoring as well.

READY FOR THE FALL SEASON

All this equipment is used for recording and production, but also presentation systems that include 14 Christie HD 30,000 lumen “immersive” projectors in our concert hall, and three Christie 4K 35,000 lumen (overlapping) projectors, which hits one-third of the face of our building. Outside audio includes 139 Meyer speakers with 60,000W of support using the Meyer Constellation immersive audio system.

The integration/installation and final testing will be completed by mid September with plans for its public debut (a New World Symphony Wallcast) later in the month. Our “regular” configuration will include 18 UHD cameras (12 Hitachi and six Panasonic), along with three channels of CG, six UHD record channels and two UHD playback channels. We’ll have three different varieties of HDR at our disposal as well.

In 2020, we will replace our 14 concert hall projectors with 4K/UHD laser projectors along with immersive production system (currently “Coolux”) and hope to also upgrade our large practice area (the size of a medium-sized TV studio) with seven additional UHD cameras. When this is complete, our count will be 27 UHD cameras, two channels of UHD playback, 10 channels of UHD recording, two channels of UHD CG, all through a 144x144 12G router. All presentations and production will be in UHD/HDR.

When complete, outside of 4K production trucks, New World Center will have the largest in-house broadcast-quality 12G 4K/UHD live production capability in the U.S. Our Development Department has already confirmed a 4K production rental beginning in October 2019 (a month after the completion of the upgrade) for a recorded national event, and are beginning to schedule other events that incorporate 4K.

Dan Slentz is the chief video engineer for NWS. 

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