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Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Captured at the National Theatre in Sony 4K

In a ground-breaking partnership with NT Live and Vue International, the acclaimed stage production of Behind the Beautiful Forevers is the first of four National Theatre plays to be recorded for exclusive screening to Vue patrons in Sony 4K. It’s an Event Cinema landmark, bringing audiences even closer to the atmosphere of being at the original performance.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Captured at the National Theatre in Sony 4K

Capturing all the emotion of world-class theatre

The power of Event Cinema is showcased in a unique initiative between The National Theatre, Vue International and Sony. Raising the curtain on a 12-month partnership, Behind the Beautiful Forevers has been shot with four times the detail of Full HD and mastered as a 4K DCP for exclusive projection in Sony 4K to audiences across Vue’s 83-site estate.

Staged by Rufus Norris and starring Meera Syal, Behind the Beautiful Forevers has attracted widespread critical acclaim since its opening in 2014. Bringing the performance from stage to screen, Sony and NT Live have been working closely with a tight-knit team of technical partners to ensure the highest possible picture quality for cinematic presentation.

On-stage action recorded with a cinematic aesthetic

The 12th March performance of Behind the Beautiful Forevers was recorded in front of an audience at the NT’s Olivier Theatre. Supplied by rental specialist Presteigne Broadcast Hire, six Sony F55 Super 35mm CMOS sensor camera chains captured the on-stage action in 4K. Used extensively by leading movie directors and cinematographers, the F55 faithfully documents huge amounts of visual information in every frame. This ensures that Vue cinema audiences can enjoy the subtlest nuances of the performers’ on-stage delivery, and each thread of their colourful costumes.

Beautiful forever in end-to-end Sony 4K

“We’re doing this as an end-to-end 4K production for the benefit of Vue audiences” says Technical Producer Chris Bretnall of Creative Broadcast Solutions. “We’ve put in 4K cameras, and the whole infrastructure is native 4K, with simulcast in HD.”

Signals from each camera chain were routed via fibre to NEP Visions’ OB truck, for recording to a Sony PWS-4400 server. Capture and archive in both 4K and HD gives NT Live the flexibility to satisfy all anticipated distribution requirements – including projection in cinemas with the highest picture quality, together with other potential channels like Blu-ray, DVD or the web.

Ultimate picture quality for Vue cinema audiences

Meena (Anneika Rose), Manju (Anjana Vasan) and the company

The wide colour space captured by the Sony F55 cameras is far in excess of the Rec.709 standard for HD TV. Mastering in UHD (3840x2160 resolution) and then creating a 4K DCP for cinema projection (4096x2160, via the addition of horizontal blanking) fully realises the incredible detail, contrast and colour gamut captured by the camera. Projected natively in Sony 4K, it’s ensured that Vue audiences experience the show with more colour, detail and contrast than they’d ever see on TV.

Handled by mastering specialists Soho Digital Cinema, encoding for the 4K DCP was carried out at 250Mbps – the upper limit of the DCI standard. This preserves as much as possible of the camera’s extended gamut in the P3 colour space that’s native to the Sony projectors across Vue’s estate. The encoded master was carefully checked prior to its final replication on ruggedised hard drive for distribution to cinemas.

Presented exclusively in 4K to Vue patrons using our SRX-R320 and SRX-R515P projectors – with HD ‘encore’ screenings at other cinemas – Behind the Beautiful Forevers looks just as good as the director, cast and crew originally intended it.

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