Sony Digital Cinema 4K and Hawk-Eye
Innovations today announce the first full proof of concept of Hawk-Eye’s
globally-renowned technology outside the world of sports broadcasting.
Hawk-Eye’s SMART Production
solution is being used to capture the Hackney Empire’s production of Charlie
Parker’s Yardbird chamber opera, with
a view to demonstrating scalable, cost-effective remote production for arts
The jazz-infused theatre show is being recorded for cinemas using an
innovative solution that includes five remote-operated Sony PXW-FS7 cameras and cutting-edge IT-based
production technologies. By harnessing an intelligent production system and remote-controlled
cameras, Sony and Hawk-Eye are able to produce original content for Hackney
Empire at a far lower cost than was previously possible with typical outside
broadcast (OB) production facilities.
Drawing on its background
and expertise with the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI), post-production for the
recordings will be handled by Sony Digital Cinema 4K, in order to produce a
final DCP that meets the rigorous standards set for the big screen.
The long-term aim of the project is to open up new revenue
opportunities for smaller arts entertainment providers like the Empire, by
providing them with the ability to produce original content for cinema
distribution across the UK. Having pioneered modern sports broadcast technology,
Hawk-Eye’s adaptable, scalable system will help to bring traditional
entertainment providers into the digital age.
The production set-up uses four FS7s on remotely operated robotic
heads, as well as one static FS7 and a micro-camera in the orchestra pit.
Operating the cameras remotely from a 3m x 3m production area at the back of
the auditorium, a four-man production crew is able to capture the show without
taking up any revenue-generating seat-space in the auditorium, or disrupting
the theatre audience’s experience.
Two Hawk-Eye SMART Production servers help to co-ordinate the
cameras, while a third is used for cutting and managing the recordings, which
are stored on a separate recording deck. The small production team includes two
robotic camera operators, a director, and a guarantee engineer – who follows
the script and helps to co-ordinate during the shows. A variety of microphones
are placed in specific positions throughout the stage area and orchestra pit,
to ensure the team records a rich, lifelike sound to accompany the Full HD
The production at the Empire will serve as a proof of concept for
Hawk-Eye’s end-to-end workflow, with a view to developing a live-stream
workflow for future projects using the same set-up.
Clarie Middleton, chief
executive, Hackney Empire, commented:
“This new solution harks back to the
Empire’s heyday in the 1950s, when it was used as a setting for TV shows. Now
115 years old, we’re proud that we’re still exploring the latest technologies
to make the arts more accessible. By capturing a stage production like YardBird,
Sony Digital Cinema and Hawk-Eye are helping us to provide people who wouldn’t
usually come to the theatre with an opportunity to enjoy the excitement of our
shows. Thanks to their production and post-production expertise, we can make
sure our shows look as good on the silver screen as they do in real life. We’re
excited to be laying the foundation for opening up our productions to audiences
across the UK.”
Ed Hawke, operations
director at Hawk-Eye Innovations, commented:
“This project provided us with the perfect
opportunity to showcase new ways in which Hawk-Eye’s technology can be used.
Thanks to our streamlined production workflow and remote cameras, we’re able to
capture on-stage action without disrupting the audience or taking up paying
seats – vital factors for working theatres. Our scalable, streamlined solution
has been tested across numerous sports, from ice hockey to handball, and at
events from Wimbledon to the Olympics. Now we’re ready and excited to show how it
can bring cost-effective production to the arts.”
John Bullen, content
development managerat Sony Digital Cinema,
production set-ups require large crews and extensive equipment, and many
theatres simply aren’t able to afford this scale of production. Theatres like
the Hackney Empire are enthusiastic about making their content more accessible
by extending it to cinema-goers, and Hawk-Eye’s solution makes that possible.
As well as promoting the theatre’s shows more broadly, it opens up new revenue
streams that were previously inaccessible to any but the largest theatre
In December 2016, Sony and Hawk-Eye ran a successful initial trial
of the production set-up using Sony PMW-500
cameras and the Hawk-Eye SMART Production technology, shooting Hackney Empire’s
Christmas pantomime production, Sleeping