Upgrading facilitates Alernative Content
Local patrons who have been enjoying the Met Opera in HD 2012-13 season at Palace Amusement cinemas have been afforded "the best seat in the house", complete with extreme close-ups, flawless sound and the coveted backstage pass.
This vista in HD - High Definition, with all its perks is not available at an actual performance at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Cinema audiences also enjoy the latest in sound technology.
Surround channels are extremely important components in motion picture sound. Surround channels envelop the audience, immersing them in the action. Carib 5 is equipped with exclusive HPS-4000R sound systems. One of the latest advances in motion picture sound divides the surrounds again, now into four separate channels and is called 7.1, which means there are seven main channels and one subwoofer channel. Carib 5 now has a total of eight channels of sound, four being discrete surround channels. The new additional surround channels allow audiences even more immersion, intimacy and excitement.
Three years ago, Palace Amusement began to convert their analogue projections to digital, which allows the capacity to project in Digital 3D and to project signals from a satellite, a hard drive and fibre optics or TV transmission. Digital projection also facilitates what is called 'Alternative Content', giving the company the ability to use its cinema screens to transmit events from any source, overseas or local.
The Met Opera in HD series is one such.
For the technical team at Palace Amusement, headed by chief engineer David Chong, and systems administrator Shawn Smith, it is hard work at Carib 5 during the live transmissions of the opera. They man specially purchased state-of-the-art equipment, in keeping with Met requirements.
Encoded and encrypted signals sent from the Met in New York are received locally by a satellite at Carib 5, which passes the signals into the cinema through an HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) Multi Point Interface network, where they are received and recorded in redundancy on two ICECrypt satellite receivers and hard drives. This simultaneous recording system ensures backup in case there is a problem.
The HDMI Multi Point Interface network at Carib 5 is channelled to all five auditoriums, which are all equipped to show Alternative Content. HDMI is one of an emerging group of standards that provide higher performance.
English-speaking audiences are able to follow the language of opera, usually Italian, through 'surtitles', or English translations, projected on screen. Because Jamaica falls in the Latin American region, these surtitles are usually transmitted in Spanish, but Palace Amusement's Managing Director Douglas Graham appealed to the Met and the opera house responded by putting a special English feed on the Latin American satellite so that audiences in Jamaica can enjoy the performances with English translations. The technical experts at Palace have had to build a special screen model into their projection system to facilitate the showing of the surtitles.
The recordings done during the live transmissions are used for encore performances about one week later. These have to be checked, reported to the Met and approved on the same day as the recording, otherwise Palace Amusement would have to wait for much longer for recordings sent from source. Audiences who choose the encore performances are, therefore, also able to enjoy a timely product with all the quality, comfort and technological advances afforded at Palace Amusement cinemas.
The Met: Live in HD, the world's leading provider of Alternative Cinema content and the first arts company to experiment as an Alternative Content provider, began on a modest scale in 2006. Since then, its programme has grown every season and is now shown in more than 1900 theatres in 64 countries, making the Met the only arts institution with an ongoing global art series of this scale.