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Viewing dance on screen in HD?What is the availability of dance video in high def?


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#1 jonellew

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 10:56 AM

I've been thinking about the ways we view dance onscreen. I don't know a whole lot about the technology of high definition TV/video, and I haven't seen any dance in HD, but I suspect that it would improve the experience of viewing dance onscreen. I'm wondering if this technology is being used yet by TV stations and video producers who show/film dance.
Have you seen dance in HD? How was the experience enhanced from non-HD viewing?
Thanks!

#2 4mrdncr

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 01:07 PM

I've been thinking about the ways we view dance onscreen. I don't know a whole lot about the technology of high definition TV/video, and I haven't seen any dance in HD, but I suspect that it would improve the experience of viewing dance onscreen. I'm wondering if this technology is being used yet by TV stations and video producers who show/film dance.
Have you seen dance in HD? How was the experience enhanced from non-HD viewing?
Thanks!


Most stations have converted by now to acquisition utilizing the latest gen of digital or HD cameras, and broadcasting of same because of the mandates from Congress--which were almost a decade earlier than for all of us viewers. But I'm not sure how many stations are broadcasting exclusively in HD. Overseas--esp. Japan--I believe are much more advanced in both filming and broadcasting in HD.

Over the last couple years, I've shot a lot of dance in HD, and own a few dvds of performances originally shot and/or broadcast in HD, (sorry no Blu-Ray dvds in my collection yet, and no HD tv set either.) Of course the first thing noticeable is the clarity. But lighting and focus are consequently much more critical. And like most HD, one has to be aware of framing. I also had a nasty surprise once when my original HD footage was copied onto a dvd; I don't know what the compression codec was, but a horrible moire appeared on the dvd that was defineatly NOT visible on the original tape. HD does not like missing info/frames no matter what compression algorithm is used.

Of the HD performance dvds I've seen--ABT's Swan Lake comes to mind--the first thing I noticed was that stage makeup looks almost grotesque because the visual detail is so clear in HD. So my advice to anyone being filmed in HD is to tone down the makeup, the live audience may suffer slightly, but at least you aren't stuck with foot-long false eyelashes on your face forever afterwards. Otherwise, the clarity is stunning as usual, but again lighting, framing, focus are more critical. Film is much more forgiving. But either way, I wish the Lincoln Center/MET admins would realize that doing HD theatrical broadcasts of ballets might bring in comprable $ and audiences as the MET Opera now enjoys.

FYI: Most HD is approximately 1100+ lines, while film is approximately "1500 lines" (if film used a similar format as video) so still a ways to go before HD will equal film. And of course there is a major difference between grain and pixels.

#3 Nanarina

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 06:45 AM

My Goodness :thumbsup: We are getting into the Technical side of things!!!
Having recently been "put straight" about the benefits of HD, I will try and pass the information I was given on.

I cannot answer about the USA or Europe, only for the UK.

In 2009 in the UK, there are only 5 Channels broadcasting in HD, and you need an HD Set to be able to receive this. You can obtain an HD Box, but you will only get an HD signal with the 5 original channels. If your TV is "HD Ready" you will still need a HD Box to benefit in HD until the Service is available in wide spread area's.
which could be a long time in the future. The only benefit in HD for sport, is if the ladies wish to see if the Footballers have shaved their legs. (My Cousins quote not mine).

DVD's - There are two kinds, 1. HD recorded only playable on an HD Player 2. Recorded in HD, but playable on a PAL or NTSC Player. If your television is HD Ready, I think you will need a HD Player to get full benefit of the system. I do not know about film, but this refers to DVD's.


I have a small number of DVD's, which I play on a PAL/NTSC Player, using a HD Ready Wide Screen TV, with surround theatre style speakers. The reproduction is definately superior to the older recordings, with much better sound, and clear real colour vision. You can certainly see the difference. A good example is POB Jewels, Swan Lake and Royal Ballet Sylvia and Giselle. Although this is not real HD, the viewing effect is very acceptable.

#4 Jack Reed

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 05:59 PM

I don't get much more from high-definition video for ballet than I do from standard definition. The wide screen that comes with HD is nice, because it's more like the theatre experience, and so is the greater sharpness of the costume details, to a lesser extent, but what really counts with me is whether the people behind the cameras let me see the dance: With HD, there's even less use for "partials", shots which show only a partial view of a dancer.

Motivated by your question jonellew, I lately watched Act II of the recent ABT Swan Lake broadcast, in wide screen standard definition, and wished the camera work had been much simpler, so that I could settle uninterrupted into the dancing, and likewise the Snow Scene, Waltz of the Flowers and Sugar Plum pas de deux in the SFB Nutcracker, which I watched in high definition. The partials, bust shots, and closeups take away what we would get of the dancers' bodies in motion (or not), as well as our sense of where they are in relation to each other and to the stage space, distracting us instead with awareness that the performance is on screen. (Exaggerating makeup is another sin committed in use of close-ups, I'd say.)

I had far and away the best time with a 1972 NYCB performance of Symphony in C, shot very well, very simply, except just one or two egregious moments, on film: Little distracted, I got the quality of the performance almost continuously, and it was overwhelming. For me, it really blew away not only most everything else I've seen on screen the last twenty-five years, it blew away everything I've seen on stage in that time. The image was plenty clear and sharp enough, and the colors were true, even more revealing than necessary: In the fast fourth movement, the second-movement ballerina looks a little stressed, in contrast to her easy, beautifully shaped phrases in the second movement, and her neck and face are coloring from her effort.

Similarly with the two videos we have of Emeralds: I also appreciate the relative sumptuousness of the recent POB one, but the older NYCB one, with its less distinct image, gives much more effect. With its long-held judicious shots, you can see the dancing better in spite of the slight fuzziness, and the dancing, not to mention the conducting, is more energized, more alive.

So, for me, the newer technology can be nice, but it's easily trumped by these other factors.

#5 Jack Reed

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 05:59 PM

I haven't much to say about the availability of ballet in the HDTV medium. I don't have a Blu-Ray player because I prefer to think in terms of recorders which are obviously more flexible, and I think the only Blu-Ray recorders available in the US now are a few Sony Vaio laptops.

There are several television channels in Chicago which broadcast an increasing number of HD programs, but very few of them are ballet (and there seem to be many more labeled HD than really are). For the present I use a hard-disk recorder, similar I think to TiVo or ReplayTV but without the subscription, to record HDTV off the air or from cable.

#6 jonellew

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 07:50 AM

Thank you all for your thoughts and comparisons, both technical and non. I don't have any experiences to proffer (we have an HD-ready TV, but I don't have an HD videos). I've seen glimpses of sports in HDTV (we're in the U.S. and a few channels are available in HD [I think; maybe it's all and we only know a few])and could see how the experience of viewing dance might be enhanced. (Even though I think that sometimes a low-quality bootleg on YouTube transports me to the theatre most effectively). I can see how usual stage makeup might be overkill in HD—whenever we watch Saturday Night Live in HD, I always notice how the gleam in Seth Myers' eyeballs is picked up in Weekend Update. It's a bit distracting.
I'll certainly look for the HD format in the next dance video I purchase, though.

#7 Sacto1654

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 05:08 AM

If you're talking Blu-ray releases of ballet performances, both the performances of Swan Lake (filmed April 2006) and the Mikhail Chemiakin-designed version of The Nutcracker (filmed in 2007) that were filmed at the Mariinsky Theatre are now available in this format. I do know a number of other ballets were filmed in HDTV format, and we could see them on Blu-ray in the next few years.

#8 Andre Yew

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 02:59 PM

Opus Arte has released quite a number of dance titles in BluRay, and they're all mastered to the highest quality possible for both video and audio. They are pretty fantastically detailed, but you also see every single flaw from features on dancers' skin to seams in the sets to costume construction details to focus issues on the camera to lens quality of the camera: everything. Sometimes the detail can be good: like recognizing faces in the corps, but other times it can be distracting. Because the delivery media is now so high quality, other parts of the chain above it become important, so unless you have a really high quality production chain from the stage design all the way through the cameras and direction, HD's going to reveal a lot of things.

Sadly, you do get used to it very quickly, so after a while, it sort of becomes normal, and normal DVDs end up looking blurry.

Comparing Blu Ray (AKA "BD") quality to over-the-air HD or cable HD is like night and day. Because of transmission bandwidth limits, broadcast HD is usually worse than hard media HD like BD.

--Andre

#9 SanderO

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 03:59 PM

I finally when to an HD in theatre presentation of the MetOpera this Spring. The performance was Lucia with Netrebko.

It was interesting, the right price, close to home, but nothing to compare with the real deal.

But I wonder if ballet would work in this format? I'd like to see one done that way, perhaps the ABT at the Met.

I don't like watching ballet on a small screen but perhaps in the theater in HD it might be passable.

What say you?

#10 volcanohunter

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 04:50 PM

I don't like watching ballet on a small screen but perhaps in the theater in HD it might be passable.

What say you?

I've attended a number of HD ballet screenings at the cinema, albeit most of them weren't live.

I recommend it. Seeing dancers magnified and seemingly eating up vast quantities of space as they move goes a long way to restoring the energy of dance lost in translation to film.

But again, you may end up seeing things you'd rather not see. In the vision scene adagio from Sleeping Beauty, Alina Cojocaru went from a very high à la seconde directly into a very deep penché, and seeing what happened to her magnified hip socket in the process bordered on freaky. It didn't have the same unsettling effect when I watched it later on my TV set.


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