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[中][ENG] 香港舞蹈團初試5G網絡應用──務求最大化直播優勢

Maximizing the Advantages of Livestreaming - Hong Kong Dance Company Launches Trials of Using 5G Network


文:楊文娟


「《紫玉成煙》——綵排直撃」/照片由香港舞蹈團提供


新冠肺炎的情況下,因劇場關閉及限聚令,香港許多藝術團體紛紛嘗試直播表演及教育課程。觀眾從習慣欣賞舞台上的演出,變為欣賞螢幕上的演出,觀賞方式的改變,間接加快香港舞蹈團運用5G網絡科技。剛過去的暑假,他們初試啼聲,嘗試運用5G網絡作了三次直播,到底有何小階段總結?而這種新科技的出現,又會怎樣影響香港舞蹈團的未來規劃?


「應用5G技術,一直放在董事會會議的議程,但一直沒有正視。」香港舞蹈團行政總監崔德煒(David)表示,適逢香港政府鼓勵應用5G科技,香港舞蹈團透過政府的「鼓勵及早使用5G技術資助計劃」獲得資助,繼香港中樂團及香港管弦樂團後,應用新科技推動藝術發展。


硬件備妥,軟件仍在探索

透過資助,香港舞蹈團與3香港合作,於團內全面鋪設5G網絡。千萬不要以為要盡享5G網絡的優勢,就是3G轉4G的分別。要達到5G網絡所提供的4K高清畫質、超高速、低時延的效果,鋪設網絡之餘,香港舞蹈團更需要添置兼容5G網絡的攝錄器材,如5G 4K攝錄機、4K顯示器、影像操作控制台、廣播編碼器(encoder)等。有了硬件,不代表萬事俱備,「5G直播,是另一種專業」,香港舞蹈團節目及教育主管張婷(Candy)直言。


暑假檔期,香港舞蹈團嘗試以三個推廣節目,讓內部同事試驗5G直播的運作模式。觀眾可於Facebook、YouTube及HERMES Live實時收看虛擬教室《「童你」跳Part舞》、「《紫玉成煙》——綵排直撃」及《熊BB的繪本》。從這三次經驗,不論是攝製人員、上下載的系統人員的配合,都讓Candy明白5G直播是一群各有所長的專業人員的合作。因此,5G直播與錄製播放的短片,甚至與因疫情而使用Zoom上課的操作方法,大大不同。


《熊BB的繪本》/照片由香港舞蹈團提供


雖然5G直播的器材是便攜式,方便香港舞蹈團直播外展節目,但當《熊BB的繪本》在希慎廣場的誠品書店進行時,Candy發現,縱然場地有5G網絡覆蓋,但流量上仍須與所有於商場使用5G網絡的人士分享,令上載速度較緩慢,不能保證4K畫質的輸出。香港舞蹈團正在一步步試驗,嘗試預知及解決5G直播可能存在的困難,令直播更暢順。當被問及會否直播舞台上的表演,Candy則從技術及成本的角度考慮,如現階段康樂及文化事務署的表演場地並無5G網絡覆蓋、表演及直播攝錄所需燈光的協調性問題,故仍在探索現場直播表演節目的可行性。


如何運用5G科技,也是一種創新

「直播不是現場演出的替代品」,David指香港舞蹈團內部對此有共識,並不會主導觀眾的選擇,反而積極回應觀眾對劇場以外的直播需求。Candy則提到當香港舞蹈團以直播形式出現在觀眾眼前,不論針對熟悉抑或不認識香港舞蹈團的觀眾,在市場推廣方面都要重新部署。


不單是觀眾參與方面,運用5G科技,香港舞蹈團也需要重新構思自身的產品,如教育課程及演出。「既然5G科技擴大了可能性,我們希望增加觀眾及收入。」



《「童你」跳Part舞》/照片由香港舞蹈團提供


David提到,利用5G直播可避免聲畫不同步及畫質欠佳的問題,令學員在螢幕上能清楚看見導師的動作,技術的優化可激發他們從單獨舞種的興趣班趨向規劃系列性的課程,如一系列的中國少數民族舞,增加收入。


不將舊酒裝新瓶,舞蹈課程規劃外,香港舞蹈團的「八樓平台」也因鋪設5G網絡,打算變身為設備更完善的黑盒劇場,相信未來將會有不同的驚喜出現。


「5G是一項新科技,到底怎樣運用這種科技,其實也是一種創新」,David說。在藝術推廣、節目製作以外,David更希望透過網上直播,讓香港舞蹈團的作品接觸更多海外觀眾。可見,香港舞蹈團並無糾結於現場演出及網上直播的對立之中,反而創新地研究如何運用直播這種新媒介。「如果於香港作現場演出,我向美國東岸的觀眾出售網上直播的門票,那並沒有流失本來的劇場觀眾」,反而向世界輸出香港品牌。


如此新面向的思考,見證了創意源自創新。雖然上述意念仍需通過軟硬件配合的考驗,以及5G技術在香港社會的流通性,但可見5G網絡所帶來的優勢令劇場表演的呈現有更多可能性,期待香港舞蹈團在這方面的發展,而其經驗及思考亦值得其他藝術團體參考。12月,他們將再次在「八樓平台」進行直播,詳情可留意香港舞蹈團Facebook的公佈。



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楊文娟

曾任全職記者、編輯,現為自由文字工作者,文章涵蓋表演藝術、視覺藝術、設計、建築等範疇。


 

Maximizing the Advantages of Livestreaming - Hong Kong Dance Company Launches Trials of Using 5G Network


Original text: Camille Yeung

Translator: Laura Chan


Baby Polar Bear's Picture Book/Photo provided by Hong Kong Dance Company


Due to theatre closures and restrictions on public gatherings due to COVID-19, many art groups in Hong Kong have sought to make use of livestreaming to broadcast their performances and classes. Audiences have been getting used to watching performances on their screens rather than in theatres, a shift which indirectly sped up Hong Kong Dance Company (HKDC)’s adoption of 5G technology. In the past summer they began by using 5G for three of their livestreams. What conclusions have they reached and how will the emergence of new technology impact their future planning?


“The utilization of 5G had always been on the Board’s agenda, but it had not been taken seriously.” David Tsui, Executive Director of HKDC, explains that, as the Hong Kong government was encouraging the use of 5G technology, HKDC had received a subsidy under the government’s "Subsidy Scheme for Encouraging Early Deployment of 5G” to make use of the new technology to promote art development, following in the footsteps of Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra and Hong Kong Philharmonic.


Getting the Hardware Ready while Exploring the Use of Software


HKDC partnered with 3 Hong Kong to set up a 5G network covering all the company’s premises using the subsidy. However, the process was not as simple as converting 3G to 4G; in order to enjoy the 4K ultra-high definition, increased speed and low latency brought by 5G, HKDC had to purchase equipment compatible with 5G, such as 5G 4K camcorders, 4K monitors, stream decks, encoders etc. And obtaining the hardware did not mean that everything was ready; “5G live-streaming is an entirely different proposition”, says Candy Cheung, Head of Programme and Education.


Rehearsal of Waiting Heart/Photo provided by Hong Kong Dance Company


During last summer, HKDC experimented with 5G livestream on three promotional programmes for its internal staff to test its mode of operation. Viewers were able to watch Dance with Us, the rehearsal of Waiting Heart and Baby Polar Bear's Picture Book on Facebook, YouTube and HERMES Live. Witnessing the cooperation between the production crew and the system technicians, Cheung realized that 5G livestream demands teamwork from professionals with different skills, and cannot be compared with simply streaming a lesson on Zoom.


Although HKDC used portable equipment so that they could livestream their outreach programmes, during the livestreaming of Baby Polar Bear's Picture Book at Eslite Hysan Place, Cheung discovered that while the venue was covered by the 5G network, the traffic had to be shared with everyone using 5G in the shopping mall. This slowed down the uploading speed and the 4K resolution output could not be guaranteed. Therefore HKDC is still trying to predict and solve potential difficulties that might arise during 5G livestreaming to ensure smooth operation. On whether performances on stage could be streamed live, Cheung notes that there are technical challenges and costs to be considered. For example, Leisure and Cultural Services Department venues are not covered by 5G, which creates problems maintaining consistency and compatibility of lighting between the on stage performance and livestream cameras. So the company is still exploring the feasibility of livestreaming stage productions.


Innovation through the use of 5G


According to Tsui, the consensus at HKDC is that “livestream is not a substitute for live performances”. Instead of seeking to influence what the audience prefers, they have actively responded to demands for livestreams outside the theatre. Cheung adds that when HKDC presents itself through livestream, it needs to revamp its marketing strategies to target both existing and new audiences.


Apart from audience participation, HKDC also had to restructure their courses and performances using 5G. “As 5G technologies expand our possibilities, we hope it will help us to increase our audience and income.”, Tsui says.


Dance with Us/Photo provided by Hong Kong Dance Company


He also pointed out that 5G livestreams did not suffer from problems such as sound being out of sync and bad video quality, which meant students could observe the movements of instructors on screen more clearly. The improved technology would help the company to develop their single-genre dance interest classes into more structured courses, such as series featuring dances of different Chinese ethnic minorities, which would generate more income.


In addition to revamping their dance courses, HKDC’s focus on innovation includes planning to transform their 8/F Platform studio venue into a full black box theatre, as the location now has 5G coverage, making it possible to bring surprises to future audiences.


“5G is a new technology, and how we make use of it is an innovation in itself,” Tsui comments. Apart from using it for promotions and programme design, he hopes that HKDC productions can reach overseas audiences through livestreaming. HKDC does not feel there is any conflict between live performances and livestreams, but rather is looking into ways of using livestreaming creatively as a new medium. “If we can sell livestream tickets to viewers on the East Coast of the USA while performing live in Hong Kong, we can retain our original audience here and export the Hong Kong brand at the same time.”


Such forward thinking shows the creativity that can be inspired by innovation. While the above ideas must face the challenges of hardware / software development and the reach of 5G technology in Hong Kong, 5G has indeed brought new possibilities to the presentation of stage performances. I look forward to HKDC’s development in this direction, and hope that other art groups can also consult and learn from their experiences and reflections. In December, HKDC will present another livestream of the 8/F Platform, so stay tuned for more updates on its Facebook page.



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Camille Yeung

Formerly a full-time journalist and editor; currently a freelance writer. Her articles cover performing arts, visual arts, design, architecture etc.