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A Look Inside the 8K Theater Technology At the Newly Renovated Fiske Planetarium

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the imagine-playing-quake-3-on-that-thing dept.

Displays 44

An anonymous reader writes "Sky gazers at CU-Boulder's Fiske Planetarium are getting better, clearer and deeper views. And not just of astronomy anymore. The planetarium has been upgraded, transforming it into a digital IMAX-like theater that's open to the public every Saturday and Sunday with a variety of programs including shows for children. 'Fiske's refurbished video system projects ultra high-definition pictures at 8,000 by 8,000 pixels in size, giving audience members a crystal-clear 360-degree view on the dome’s 65-foot screen. "The size and quality is the equivalent of 40 Blu-ray players projecting 40 sections of one video image at once," said [Doug Duncan, director of Fiske]. This gallery of images shows a behind-the-scenes look at the Planetarium's brand new 8k Fulldome projection system. ' In addition to space odysseys and laser shows — longtime favorites of audiences — movies are now part of the Fiske lineup. 'Just like at an IMAX theater, we can take you near a black hole, through the Grand Canyon, under the ocean, or up to a super volcano,' said Duncan. "The sky is no longer the limit.'"

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44 comments

Uhh (1)

Cammi (1956130) | about 9 months ago | (#45208927)

Still waiting for 4k .... dolts.

Re: Uhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45209347)

And 4K isn't even 4000 horizontal, and barely more than half that vertical.

This is true 8K for both! It's like >8 times 4K!

Re: Uhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45209465)

True! Only home markets are still waiting on 4K, it's old news when your screen is measured in yards or meters. Takes a beast of a system to drive it of course! : D

Re: Uhh (1)

haijak (573586) | about 9 months ago | (#45220187)

There are actually a few different 4Ks. When pro-quality digital film cameras and theater projectors say 4K they mean 4096 × 2160. 4K UltraHD is 3840 × 2160.

However none of those definitions are close to 4096 × 4096.

First. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45208929)

First Post!

Re:First. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45209017)

First miss. And it's pronounced "Plane'arium"

Travel Discounts (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45209129)

The first 50 people to call and mention Slashdot will get free tickets for two. Not one of the first 50? Good news; were still inviting everyone on Slashdot to see one of our shows at a 10% discount. (Additional resort fees, other fees and taxes not included.)

This makes me sad. (3, Interesting)

Rhyas (100444) | about 9 months ago | (#45209147)

This was one of the last, if not the last, planetariums in Colorado that still had the classic projector that was this huge awesome piece of machinery that rose from the floor like a magical thing. I loved these as a kid, and it was the coolest thing to get to see it in action a few years ago on a field trip with my kids. They were just as much in awe of it as I was at that age, and every time we pass it these days, they recall how cool it was.

It seems all planetariums are going to the "IMAX" format, and frankly, it sucks. The Denver Planetarium is absolutely lame now, they don't have any good presentations, half the time everything is on auto-pilot and there's no real person there. I don't expect it to be around for very long actually, since it competes with the IMAX theater in the same building, but seats far fewer people.

I'm just glad my kids got to see Fiske once before it was replaced with "better" technology that's much less impressive in it's physical effect on visitors. Going forward, the only thing kids are going to see different with "planetarium" vs. "movie theater" is that the planetarium has a domed screen, and this one happens to have a disco ball in the middle of it.

-= Rhyas =-

Re:This makes me sad. (5, Informative)

jrronimo (978486) | about 9 months ago | (#45209187)

Although the old Zeiss was super impressive, technologically it was old hat -- lots of burnt out bulbs, etc. And while I understand that it's not about the specs, here's something that maybe makes it a bit better: I work for some folk at CU that have some degree of involvement with Fiske. One of the professors said to me of the new display: "It can resolve 2 million individual points of light with incredible detail. You could go into a show using the new projector with binoculars and looking at the display would be similar in effect to looking at the actual night sky with binoculars."

I'll definitely miss the imposing nature of the old Zeiss, but the new projector should have some of the best star shows around. I'm really looking forward to seeing it. And probably Laser Pink Floyd and Laser Nine Inch Nails, too, heh.

Re:This makes me sad. (4, Interesting)

jrronimo (978486) | about 9 months ago | (#45209227)

Reading through the imagur link, which is fantastic, tells me that the new projector does 20 million stars. Fritz, the old Zeiss, did 3,000.

Re:This makes me sad. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45209963)

To be completely clear: in addition to the 8K computer-controlled system, they *also* have a new planetarium projector that does 20 million stars.

http://i.imgur.com/KagHpPK.jpg [imgur.com]

The projector is a Megastar IIA [megastar.jp] .

Re:This makes me sad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45209851)

Binoculars would show the pixels. The human eye can resolve around 50 pixels/degree, so these 8000x8000 pixels are just enough to cover 160x160 degrees at naked eye resolution.

Re:This makes me sad. (1)

Carewolf (581105) | about 9 months ago | (#45212325)

Actually we can only resolve individual pixels at 50pixels/degree, we can still perceive details way below that limit, just not as individual pixels. Similar to how there is a huge difference between 20fps and 60fps, it is just that 20fps is where we stop being able to spot individual frames and they start to blur together.

This apple retina craze has really started to make people underestimate the human eye.

Re:This makes me sad. (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 9 months ago | (#45213323)

Actually we can only resolve individual pixels at 50pixels/degree, we can still perceive details way below that limit, just not as individual pixels. Similar to how there is a huge difference between 20fps and 60fps, it is just that 20fps is where we stop being able to spot individual frames and they start to blur together.

This apple retina craze has really started to make people underestimate the human eye.

Not really, the human eye is actually quite horrible. It's a very low res capture device, just coupled with a very powerful image processor running powerful image processing software.

First - peripheral vision is just lousy - if you fix your gaze on an object and attempt to see stuff in your peripheral vision, it's very low resolution. (A fancy trick was to show a big X on a board about 20-30 feet away, then have two cheerleaders stand about 30-40 feet away from it in a line and have people stare at the X and pick the prettier cheerleader. The trick was that one of the two was always male, and after reviewing the choices (the test was repeated with several groups of cheerleaders on the same person), they'd end up with roughly 50-50 split of male and female picks).

Central vision is better at color resolution, but has poor lowlight sensitivity (peripheral vision is better). Nevermind the huge gaping hole in your vision because of the blind spot.

Though, central vision is able to handle more "channels" of motion than peripheral vision - peripheral vision is limited to one type of motion and it will fail to detect other motion properly if it's tracking.

It's all compensated for by the brain though - your eyes actually are always in motion and the brain stitches together a cohesive, high-definition image out of the movements of the eye as it darts around.

Of course, it's very easy to fool the brain - optical illusions and other tricks of the trade, especially in its ability to take a 2D image (e.g., from TV or a monitor - say a photo) and convert it into 3D (even though the photo is 2D, the brain automatically figures out depth from visual cues. This is important when it comes to the fact that stereoscopic vision only gets you so much - once you're beyond a mere 10-30', there's not enough separation to determine depth and the brain figures it out from experience).

It's remarkably easy to fool your brain - all the various static and non-static optical illusions show just how much processing the brain does - enough to be able to get completely fooled into thinking concave objects are convex (especially faces) and other things.

Re:This makes me sad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45210361)

They still have laser pink floyd?

Re:This makes me sad. (1)

Anemophilous Coward (312040) | about 9 months ago | (#45211233)

I think you guys misinterpreted what he said. The real message was:

Get off my lawn!

(with all respect to the original poster...I'll miss Fritz as well)

Re:This makes me sad. (1)

stewardwildcat (1009811) | about 9 months ago | (#45228539)

20 million stars to be specific. It was time to retire old Fritz who is currently standing guard in the lobby of Fiske. The technology was from 1965 which while still impressive engineering is markedly old by today's standards. The new star projector still lives on the same elevator that comes out of the floor in the middle of the room. Its amazing to see how dark and detailed a perfect sky can be with the new megastar.

Re:This makes me sad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45209397)

Hmm... Does Jefferson County School District still run their planetarium? Oh, snap, looks like they closed it in 2009, but people are working to open it next year. Was definitely a fond memory of mine going there 1-2x/year while in grade school (Campbell Elem, in Arvada). And it was cool seeing and watching the Zeiss projector at work.

Re:This makes me sad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45209753)

The correct term for that format is Omnimax.

Re:This makes me sad. (1)

necro81 (917438) | about 9 months ago | (#45211167)

Take heart: the Adler Planetarium [adlerplanetarium.org] in Chicago invested in a new Zeiss Mark VI about five years ago. You may have heard about it: John McCain, either through ignorance or willful deception, referred to it as an overhead projector [discovermagazine.com] , a $3 mil earmark [washingtonpost.com] that (then-Senator) Obama had requested.

Re:This makes me sad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45211357)

And I totally feel the same way about the Adler projector as the GP. The planetarium shows are now just lame TV shows, with plenty of poorly rendered CG to repeatedly zoom through. And the apparent resolution is crap. I miss the old projector.

Re:This makes me sad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45223835)

No Adler does not have a new Zeiss projector, only their old one on display .

Re:This makes me sad. (1)

floodo1 (246910) | about 9 months ago | (#45212179)

Erase the hate. Not everyone shares your nostalgia. I for one welcome the 48000 pixels they are throwing up there. Hard to argue that they should have stuck with the 3000 star awesome looking "star generator" instead of the new 2000000 star generator that they have in addition to all those 8k projectors.

Re:This makes me sad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45213199)

My stepfather was one of the architects and implementers of the Morrison Planetarium, located in San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences (CAS).

CAS did the same thing to their projector - they ripped it out. I hear it's in the Smithsonian now.

CAS was taken over in the 1980s - back when Feinstein was mayor of San Francisco - and is now being run by business[wo]men, for a profit, rather than by scientists, for education.

They tore down the entire Academy and rebuilt it (with the bids going to political insiders) and jacked up the admission and turned it into a friggin' disneyland.

I know how you feel.

CAPTCHA: 'burglars'

Re:This makes me sad? Only if you didn't read (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45223819)

You need to read more carefully!! The new Fiske has the finest star projector in the US.
There are photos of it in the link. I challenge you to come see it in person.

Re:This makes me sad. (1)

stewardwildcat (1009811) | about 9 months ago | (#45228467)

Hello, I work at the CU campus and help out at Fiske and you are 100% correct that many planetariums are becoming passive and prerecorded. This is NOT the case at Fiske. We always have at least 30 minutes of live talking and exploring with every show we put on. We may watch an IMAX movie but you have an astronomer leading you through the solar system or on a star talk before hand. We always have an expert on hand and in the auditorium to answer questions and interact with the members of the audience. We firmly believe that you should have a live show even if the screen is becoming more digital. As for our new star-ball we do understand that digital is not everything. We went with the megastar system because it projects, in an analog pinhole format, 22 million stars onto the dome. This means we can give star talks with stars below the human eye's response so we need to use binoculars INSIDE! We have the opportunity now to be more than just the place you learn about the stars but also about the inside of the human body, chemistry, earth processes, and much more. This theater also provides the best environment in the state for film students to learn about large format production and actually produce content that is shown at Fiske. You should check it out and give us feedback on how we can serve people better but we will not go to the fully preprogrammed format where the audience comes in, sits down, gets filled up with a video, and leaves. We strive for interactive shows where the audience not only participates but helps determine the part of the universe we explore.

Actually, 31 Blu Ray players (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45209253)

8000*8000 / 1920*1080 =~ 31

Re:Actually, 31 Blu Ray players (1)

Behrooz Amoozad (2831361) | about 9 months ago | (#45210807)

8000*8000/1920/1080 Space is not an operator.

Re:Actually, 31 Blu Ray players (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#45211117)

well, average ps3 game doesn't use 1920x1080..

Movies on domes suck (2)

OzPeter (195038) | about 9 months ago | (#45209357)

Unless you are seated right in the center of the theater (which is only a small part of the total seating) your movie experience will suck big time. I really have no idea why people go to such theaters.

Re:Movies on domes suck (1)

stewardwildcat (1009811) | about 9 months ago | (#45228485)

This is actually incorrect. The way the shows we have are designed you can sit anywhere in the room and get a great experience. The sweetspot for focus is infront of the audience so you do not have to be in the center to enjoy it. You should come check it out and tell us what you think!

Way better than IMAX! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45209509)

The article compares it to IMAX, but fails to point out that even the best digital IMAX system is only 4K, not nearly as pretty.

Also not nearly as impressive - IMAX uses one big clunky projector to spit out a square 4K image, whereas domes like these can have dozens of computers driving multiple projectors, all synchronized and blended into one seamless image!

Amezing (1)

harshal.tawade (3010845) | about 9 months ago | (#45209551)

8kresolution, 12 separate cores, 96 gb of RAM, I have only 1080p, 4 cores and 4 gb RAM.

Re:Amezing (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about 9 months ago | (#45211249)

That's for the non-realtime production. They have 24 machines, 4 machines per projector, for the real-time rendering, each of which has 8 cores, an Nvidia K5000 GPU, and 16GB of RAM.

Re:Amezing (1)

stewardwildcat (1009811) | about 9 months ago | (#45228503)

25 machines if you include the sound renderer. All running 6 cinema projectors. 4 renderers per projector.

Re:Amezing (1)

locopuyo (1433631) | about 9 months ago | (#45213657)

But can it play Crisis?

Re:Amazing (1)

stewardwildcat (1009811) | about 9 months ago | (#45228559)

We have not tried crisis yet but it does have a "flying" capability where we can load up a model of the space shuttle and fly over planetary surfaces in real time. The surfaces that have GIS (elevation and color data) allow us to have a real view of the planet and fly anywhere we want to go. Mars, the Moon, and the Earth, are all incredible objects to explore from both space and flying.

Re:Amezing (1)

harshal.tawade (3010845) | about 9 months ago | (#45231667)

Mine can play crisis,

SuperMicro (1)

WizardFusion (989563) | about 9 months ago | (#45210249)

Anyone else notice they they are using SuperMicro servers. Those things are noisy.

Re:SuperMicro (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45213181)

Anyone else notice they they are using SuperMicro servers. Those things are noisy.

Actually the 4U ones are quieter than the average gaming desktop. The 3U ones do sound like they're getting ready for takeoff, we had to do some custom mods to make those ones quiet enough for some sites.

you Fail It (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45210517)

These eaWrly Goals. It's When

TPV? (1)

Jaegs (645749) | about 9 months ago | (#45212489)

Does it have a microscopic dot labelled "You Are Here" somewhere on the screen? If so, I want to see it.

Re:TPV? (1)

stewardwildcat (1009811) | about 9 months ago | (#45228487)

We need to put this in but waldo is somewhere in the universe.

This is slashdot. Get your numbers right! (1)

pinkeen (1804300) | about 9 months ago | (#45214009)

(8000 * 8000)/(1920 * 1080) =~ 30
So it's more like 30 bluray players at 1080p, not 40.

Even if we assume double the 8K (8192x4320) it is still around the 35 figure.
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