Tudor theatre, 21st century technology

This summer, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London mounted a production of all three of Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays, staged both at Shakespeare’s Globe itself, and outdoors at battlefield sites from the War of the Roses. The theatre collaborated with The Space, a new Arts Council and BBC-developed service which streams free, on-demand video of live cultural events, to produce a broadcast of the plays from multiple viewpoints.

Real live camera operators, with real live cameras, were following the actors around and filming the whole series of plays. But we are particularly interested in one specific camera: the tiny Throne Cam, invisible to the audience, but filming all the proceedings from the huge throne which forms part of the stage set in all three performances, giving an actor’s eye view of the plays. It was a Raspberry Pi camera board.

Thronecam in situ at Shakespeare’s Globe

It turns out that the Pi and its camera board are the ideal solution for The Space. The whole assembly is not big enough to be noticeable by the audience if it’s mounted somewhere on the stage, but can record 1080p HD video. And, because it’s driven by a Pi, it can process and encode the video onboard, so no additional work needs doing by The Space to publish the stream online.

The first of the three plays is already available to watch online. I’m on a very wobbly hotel wifi network today, so I haven’t been able to watch the video yet – please report back in the comments and let us know what you thought of it!


ukscone avatar

ok looks like Liz somehow had blocked comments on this post even though she did ask for some. i blame her wobbly hotel although if it is that unstable maybe she should change hotels. anyway comments are now allowed

Andy Armstrong avatar

I’m afraid we didn’t actually get ThroneCam to work on Saturday. We had heavy rain during setup and throughout the event and couldn’t keep everything dry enough to work. I haven’t given up yet though – PiCam will have its day in court :)

Gert van Loo avatar

Talk to London Zoo. They have the Pi working deep under water!

Andy Armstrong avatar

It’s unexpected water that’s the problem ;)

ukscone avatar

it was a bank holiday wasn’t it? how can there ever be such a thing as unexpected water (via rain) during a British bank holiday?

David avatar

Is this the reason that there is only sound, not video on the site? Or is that because my Mac isn’t playing nice again?

Brilliant idea, though! And you might want to check out …

Andy Armstrong avatar

You should have video and sound. Works for me :)

Which browser are you using? And which Flash version?

liz avatar

Whoops. Sorry. Thanks Scone!

Patrick - Bethesda, Maryland, USA avatar

The next time I sit on my Throne (in the Bathroom) I just might set up a Throne Cam too !!!

David avatar
Patrick - Bethesda, Maryland, USA avatar

Ah Crap !!!!

(Get it?)

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