Opera Coming to Cinemas in 3D

Opera, already the most popular type of alternative content programming in UK cinemas, will now be recorded stereoscopically for theatrical projection later this year (2008). The UK's Royal Opera House will record select performances from the 2008/2009 season in 3D for distribution to cinemas in the UK and Europe. The news is an addition to the earlier deal to distribute Royal Opera House content with Arts Alliance Media, the UK and European digital content distribution company and technical distribution specialist Arqiva. A total of 16 live and recorded opera and ballet performances, including six in 3D, will now be made available to participating cinemas, which currently includes leading European circuit Odeon/UCI. Stereoscopic capture of the performances will be managed by Pace 3D.

Our take...
The offering represents some of the first cultural events to be both recorded and distributed stereoscopically in cinemas, although release width will be limited due to the requirements of having both a digital and 3D system installed. Opera is now the most frequent type of alternative content programming screened in UK cinemas, including four major Opera brands; Glyndebourne, the New York Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House and La Scala. Opera events already carry a price premium a number of times above regular movie tickets (average of £16.00 for an opera cinema ticket in 2008) and 3D versions will almost certainly include an additional surcharge, as do 3D movie screenings, but this is unlikely to dissuade consumers looking for a premium opera experience in a convenient location. In terms of a live 3D element for alternative content broadcasts, there have been several trial screenings of live 3D sports on large-venue screens in the US and Europe, with commercial broadcasts expected to follow in due course. Nonetheless, live 3D streaming raises several issues including higher production costs and larger bandwith requirements for distribution.

By Charlotte Jones, ScreenDigest