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Opulent flood of images

Christie Terra AV over IP system installation makes its debut in EMEA at "L'incoronazione di Poppea" at Zurich Opera House

publitec Präsentationssysteme & Eventservice GmbH, smARTec, Veranstaltungstechnik AG


Performing arts

Christie Boxer 4K30, Christie Pandoras Box, Christie Terra​

Opulent flood of images

How best to portray a thoroughly corrupt and vainly narcissistic society on stage? That was the challenge faced by Zurich Opera House when staging Claudio Monteverdi's opera "L'incoronazione di Poppea". The answer? Hold up a mirror! The play picked up on the current selfie culture, projecting oversized images of the actors onto 16 x 9 screens on the balconies of the auditorium.

For the technical implementation, the famous opera house once again put its trust in Christie technologies.  Christie Boxer 4K30 projectors, together with Christie Pandoras Box servers, have proven to be reliable pillars of video technology for elaborate productions for some time. Now, the Christie infrastructure has been taken to an entirely new level with the Christie Terra AV over IP system, based on SDVoE technology (Software Defined Video over Ethernet) to switch, scale and extend signals of 4K video content.  It's the first install of its kind in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa). 

Zurich Opera House has never shied away from controversy. Time and again, the award-winning opera house has been the "talk of the town" for its creative productions and use of state-of-the-art technologies. For that reason it was named 2014 Opera Company of the Year at the International Opera Awards.

Such an accolade is deserving for Spanish director Calixto Bieito, who is known for his radical and expressive interpretations of operas. Dramatic scenes and large, projected images of actors moving on the catwalk around the orchestra pit were captured on video as part of L'incoronazione di Poppea's pre-production then displayed on screens in both portrait and landscape mode.

A 4K projection solution, complete with a media playback and AV over IP system to distribute and extend 4K@60Hz content was necessary for this production. "It would have been a huge effort to use monitors or LED walls for the 14 screens," explained Elfried Roller, deputy head of lighting at the Zurich Opera House. We had the idea of projecting the images upright across the balconies, using Christie Boxer 4K30 projectors in a sound-insulated cases. A 1080p feed would have been too little for the individual screens, and so only a native 4K feed was an option. Roller laughs: "Now all we had to do was adapt the fibre optic line and Pandoras Box." It was equally important to provide workflow and confidence monitoring for the technical production staff and director, who needed to see the various shots.

Christie Pandoras Box servers, along with Christie Widget Designer, fed 4K content natively to the projectors located around the auditorium. Three of the servers were upgraded to supply greater storage for 4K content.

Christie Partner smARTec supplied nine Terra transmitters, seven Terra receivers, and two Terra controllers (one for redundancy) to manage the routing of content from transmitters to receivers. The system also includes a multiviewer for confidence viewing of content in the system. Terra transmitted the data over 10G Ethernet, artifact-free from the Christie Pandoras Box servers and the cameras to the Christie Boxer 4K30 projectors, thus supplying the images for the video mappings and stage projections as well as to the director's preview monitors.

Roller: "For a long time we looked for a new fibre optic transmission chain with the ability to transmit 4K in multimode, and the Terra system suited us 'from the ground up'." The Christie Terra enables latency-free transmission of the native 4K signals (4:4:4 at 60 Hz), and guarantees multiple use of the input signals for confidence viewing. There is no need for a fibre optic crossbar or for replugging. "The possibility of productions using multiviewers, projection previews and live cameras makes our work a lot easier," said Roller.

The Terra platform provides a highly efficient method for any combination of transmitters and receivers on a network and multi-view confidence monitoring can be easily supported by simply adding another receiver. It is far more efficient than traditional fibre switching designs that would require many more outputs supplied to an additional multiviewer device. With Terra you can add a receiver and present a confidence display with downscaled images, simply.

The debut of Christie Terra at Calixto Bieto's L'incoronazione di Poppea production went off without a hitch. The Terra technology has since been used in many other productions. "We were very satisfied with the complete solution of Pandoras Box servers, and Terra AV over IP SDVoE technology solution, as well as Boxer 4K projectors. Receiving everything from one source is very convenient for stage operations, or when we need efficient support for our system," concluded Roller.

Markus Mathis from Christie Partner smARTec: "We are really happy that Zurich Opera House selected us again for the current upgrade of its AV system. The Christie Boxer 4K30 projectors we supplied have been part of our inventory for a long time." Mathis sees many other possible uses for the Terra transmission solution: "We look forward to using the Terra SDVoE input card for the projector when it becomes available. This will simplify the solution workflows for the customer even further," says Mathis.

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