CYPRESS, CA, June 25, 2007 – FOR-A Corporation of America, a leading manufacturer of video and audio systems for the broadcast and professional video industries, announced that its FRC-7000 HD frame rate converter is proving to be a key component enabling live broadcasts of operas from New York’s famed Metropolitan Opera to participating digital cinemas in the United States and Europe.
Since “The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD” began in December 2006, digital cinema audiences in the United States, as well as Britain, Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, and Sweden, have been able to watch an opera live from “The Met” as if they had the best seats in the House. The HD opera productions are transmitted to participating digital cinemas and projected in HD with 5.1 channels of surround sound onto big screens.
“FOR-A’s FRC-7000 has been a key part of this groundbreaking application because it handles the critical HD format conversion that is needed to serve our diverse international delivery requirements. The image quality and motion are crystal clear and smooth—even the subtitles,” said Mark Schubin, Engineer-in-Charge, Media Department, for The Metropolitan Opera, in New York, NY.
Introduced at NAB2006, the FOR-A FRC-7000 can convert between 1080/59.94i, 1080/50i, and between 720/59.94p and 720/50p HD frame rates in realtime, leveraging FOR-A’s advanced vector motion compensation algorithms, which compare the motion in a group of frames with the frames that follow before performing the conversion. At NAB2007, FOR-A added advanced scene cut detection and roll/crawl text detection, as well as optional support for different frame rates including: 23/98psf, 23.98p, 24psf, 24p, 30p, 30psf, 29.97psf, 29p, 25p, and 25psf.
“Initially, we planned to use 1080i at 29.97 frames per second (American standard) as the frame rate for all theaters. But, after our first tests, one of the European groups discovered that their satellite receivers couldn’t deal with it. That’s when we knew we had to deliver 1080i at 25 frames per second, too,” said Lenny Laxer, vice president of operations for All Mobile Video, the mobile video company serving the remote production and transmission needs of The Metropolitan Opera, in New York, N.Y. in this endeavor.
“The FOR-A FRC-7000 enables us to provide everyone with the HD format they need,” Laxer added. “Until now, we’ve been sending the European theatres both a U.S. and European version. But today, since the FOR-A FRC-7000 has proven its ability to output superb quality, motion-compensated HD frame rate conversion, we’re confident that we can discontinue sending the U.S. version. So, the FOR-A FRC-7000 will be saving us money.”
All Mobile Video has purchased two FRC-7000 units for use in transmitting the Metropolitan Opera performances: one situated at the Met in an uplink truck and one at its Gateway Teleport in Carteret, NJ. The operas are captured by 14 Sony HDC 950/1500/1000 HD cameras in 1080/29.97i.
The primary U.S. distributor of “Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD” is National CineMedia network, a joint venture of AMC, Cinemark, and Regal Entertainment Group, which includes Regal Cinemas, United Artists, and Edwards. Among the foreign distributors that receive the transmission via satellite is a theater in Tromso, Norway, north of the Arctic Circle.
Since the first HD presentation, the number of tickets sold at participating digital cinemas has been steadily increasing with every performance, greatly expanding the audience that can appreciate live performances from The Met. Among the operas that have been presented to date are: “The Magic Flute” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (December 30, 2006); “I Puritani” by Vincenzo Bellini (January 6, 2007); “The First Emperor” by Tan Dun (January 13, 2007); and “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” (“The Barber of Seville”) by Gioachino Rossini (March 24, 2007).
In digital cinema showings of feature films, frame rate conversion is not necessary because 24 frames per second is the universal worldwide standard. However, frame rate conversion is necessary for digital cinema applications that involve live international transmission of performing arts, sports, or other special events. The FOR-A FRC-7000 is also well-suited to international broadcast television distribution.
“Without the FOR-A FRC-7000,” Schubin said, “these HD transmissions from the Metropolitan Opera would not have been possible with the same flawless quality and efficiency.”
FOR-A is a major manufacturer and distributor of audio and video systems to the broadcast, postproduction and professional video markets. For more information about FOR-A’s product line, visit www.for-a.com.
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