Sphere in Las Vegas isn’t just a round vehicle for a series of fall U2 concerts — it’s also host to an immersive screen of mammoth proportions that will be its own attractions when there aren’t any world-class rock bands taking over the space. And even when they are, someone has still got to come up with the visual content that will be part-and-parcel with any live residency there. That’s where Sphere Studios will come in, a division of Sphere Entertainment Co. that was announced Monday as the provider for what will appear on the venue’s ultimate big screen in Vegas (and those like it that are planned for Spheres to be built in other cities).
Also revealed Monday as part of the rollout for Sphere Studios was Big Sky, described as “an ultra-high resolution camera system” that is “the first of the Studios’ many groundbreaking immersive innovations.”
Some of the technology involved has already been previewed for journalists in a quarter-sized Sphere prototype in Burbank, as part of the ramping up to the U2 shows that begin when Sphere opens just off the Las Vegas Strip in September.
For anyone curious to see the full scope of what can be done as a unique cinematic experience within the walls of Sphere (“walls” obviously not being quite the operative term for a dome), the opportunity will come when “Postcard From Earth” opens in the Vegas venue on Oct. 6, with showtimes booked for now around U2’s dates there. Tickets for that long-term engagement went on sale in April.
“Sphere Studios is not only creating content, but also technology that is truly transformative,” said David Dibble, chief executive officer of MSG Ventures, the division of Sphere Entertainment focused on developing new tech for live entertainment, in a statement. “Sphere in Las Vegas is an experiential medium featuring an LED display, sound system and 4D technologies that require a completely new and innovative approach to filmmaking. We created Big Sky – the most advanced camera system in the world – not only because we could, but out of innovative necessity. This was the only way we could bring to life the vision of our filmmakers, artists and collaborators for Sphere.”
The studio says Big Sky cameras include “the largest single sensor in commercial use capable of capturing incredibly detailed, large-format images.” The 16K x 16K “immersive display plane” at Sphere will spotlight large-format images captured by a single camera without the need to stitch together images from multiple cameras, as has often been the case with other would-be immersive screen experiences dating all the way back to three-panel Cinerama.
“Big Sky is a giant leap forward for imaging and a testament to the innovative teams at Sphere Studios who made this technology a reality,” said Deanan DaSilva, lead architect of Big Sky at Sphere Studios. “Big Sky allows us to capture cinematic content at a level of detail never before possible, opening up extraordinary possibilities and pushing immersive imaging technology forward in a way that will resonate throughout the entertainment industry.”
Although it was just announced Monday, the development of Big Sky began in early 2021 and shooting with the cameras began in October of last year.
“Postcard From Earth” is said by the company to still be in production, with the promise of location shoots around the world and “an unparalleled storytelling journey (to) offer a unique perspective on the magnificent beauty of life on our planet.” Darren Aronofsky has been reported to be involved with the production, although his name has not appeared in advertising or publicity material thus far. Other “experiences,” as the company is calling its big-screen presentations, are expected to follow.
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