Putting the Vision in OperaVision

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Tue, 04/29/2008 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

With the debut of a new program offered by the San Francisco Opera called OperaVision tighter shots of the stage were necessary. OperaVision allows audience members seated in balcony seats an improved view of the stage through close-up and mid-range ensemble shots in high-definition video on two five-foot six-inch by nine-foot six-inch retractable screens hung from the ceiling. ZamacomaWhen the San Francisco Opera created its Koret-Taube Media Suite the first permanent high-definition video production facility of any opera house in America nine Fujinon HD lenses were chosen as part of the configuration. According to Frank Zamacona of Zamacona Productions and resident director of the Koret-Taube Media Suite the longer focal length offered by the Fujinon lenses presented a key advantage. “We needed to zoom in deeper and get in closer on the action on stage ” Zamacona says. “The Fujinon lenses give us sharp medium close ups of the performers no matter where they are on stage. When you consider that most operas are sung in a foreign language the amount of emotion being conveyed through facial expression becomes vitally important to the audience’s appreciation of the story line and message. Not only are we providing tighter shots but we’re doing so in crisp HD so no detail is lost.” Among the nine lenses selected were three HA25X11.5 BERD lightweight ENG-Style telephoto HD lenses with servo zoom and focus; four HS18X5 BERM standard focal length HD ½-inch XDCAM HD ENG/EFP with Digi Power servo and 2X extender one HA25X16.5 BERD lightweight super telephoto HD ENG-Style lens with servo zoom and focus; and one HA42X13.5 BERD super telephoto ENG-Style lens. The lenses are mounted on Sony HDC 1500L and Sony HDC X-310 cameras. OperaVision is also available on high definition monitors in lounge areas of the theater’s lower lobby and box levels. Zamacona adds that the Fujinon lenses offered improved communication with the San Francisco Opera’s robotic cameras. “We were seeing a hitch when zooming in which was unacceptable ” he says. “After testing the Fujinon lenses out we saw that they communicated better with the Cambotic software that talks to the lenses. That made a huge difference.” The Fujinon lenses were in place in time for several outreach efforts by the San Francisco Opera designed to bring opera into the community and to wider audiences. Last fall’s free “Opera at the Ballpark” event a free live simulcast of Saint-Saën’s Samson and Delilah drew 15 000 to AT&T Park home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. The San Francisco Opera is currently preparing for the theatrical release of several performances that were recorded live a first for the San Francisco Opera. The theatrical releases are part of the Company’s new digital cinema initiative. Initial plans for the digital cinema series which began last month include the nationwide distribution of Puccini’s La Rondine and Madama Butterfly Saint-Saëns’s Samson and Delilah and Mozart’s Don Giovanni.