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Displays Space Hardware

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

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  • by Cammi ( 1956130 )
    Still waiting for 4k .... dolts.
  • This makes me sad. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rhyas ( 100444 ) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @12:22AM (#45209147) Journal

    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 =-

    • by jrronimo ( 978486 ) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @12:28AM (#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.
      • by jrronimo ( 978486 ) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @12:36AM (#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: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

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


          The projector is a Megastar IIA [].

      • 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)

      • 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.
    • by necro81 ( 917438 )
      Take heart: the Adler Planetarium [] 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 [], a $3 mil earmark [] that (then-Senator) Obama had requested.
    • by floodo1 ( 246910 )
      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.
    • 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 fi
  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @01:02AM (#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.

    • 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!
  • 8kresolution, 12 separate cores, 96 gb of RAM, I have only 1080p, 4 cores and 4 gb RAM.
    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      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.

    • But can it play Crisis?
      • 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.
      • Mine can play crisis,
  • Anyone else notice they they are using SuperMicro servers. Those things are noisy.
  • by Jaegs ( 645749 )

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

  • (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.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.