Opened in its current location in 2011, the TELUS Spark Science Centre (Spark) in Calgary, Alberta exists to entertain and inspire people of all ages through creative encounters with science, technology, engineering, math and the arts. With unique learning spaces, a digital immersion gallery, VR experiences and a creative kids museum, Spark caters to a range of interests and ages, welcoming more than 375,000 guests annually.
Within Spark is the Infinity Dome, an accessible three-story dome theatre that transports guests into outer space and shows the latest large screen films. The Infinity Dome recently underwent a major refurbishment that included the installation of eight Christie® Griffyn™ 4K32-RGB pure laser projectors along with RSA Cosmos – Konica Minolta’s state-of-the-art planetarium software SkyExplorer.
“Spark’s goal was to renovate the digital system of the Infinity Dome theatre with high-performing technologies to have a state-of-the-art planetarium capable of offering exceptional renderings and journeys through the Universe to the audience. The Spark team were therefore looking for a powerful planetarium software along with a high-quality digital projection system to deliver the most stunning images in real time with the highest levels of brightness,” says Bahar Gumus, Sales Manager, RSA Cosmos – Konica Minolta.
The selection and installation of a new projection system required close collaboration between numerous parties to ensure the best solution for the project. Working alongside the Spark team, as well consultants Bill Peters and Ian McLennan, RSA Cosmos – Konica Minolta, global leader in digital planetariums, in partnership with Solotech, global leader in audiovisual and entertainment technology, specified and installed the new digital system.
“The Infinity Dome theatre had very specific technical specifications, including the brightness and the resolution of the system,” says Philippe Giron, account manager, Solotech. To select the projectors best suited to the dome, Solotech organized a shoot-out between high-brightness models, including two blended Griffyn 4K32-RGB projectors.
“The planetarium project team was looking for a digital projection system capable of providing very high levels of brightness, vivid colors, with quiet operation,” adds Gumus. “Christie Griffyn 4K32-RGB was the only projector to answer fully these requirements thanks to the high levels of brightness of 34,000 lumens per projector and very wide color gamut achieved with the RGB laser technology.”
Spark selected eight Griffyn 4K32-RGB pure laser projectors for the project, which produce bright, true-to-life visuals and achieve greater than 96% of the Rec.2020 color gamut. Griffyn 4K32-RGB operates quietly, at less than 46dBA at full brightness, to keep the focus on the content, not the projector.
The installation also included RSA Cosmos - Konica Minolta’s planetarium software SkyExplorer to offer breathtaking journeys through the Universe in real time, along with fun and interactive modules opening the dome to new content beyond astronomy. RSA Cosmos - Konica Minolta and Solotech also installed a streaming system that uses a dedicated image generator and a console, to enable Spark to combine content generated on the dome with live performance recordings, which are then ready to be streamed online or shared with other planetariums.
Solotech created a 3D cloud point view to visualize every detail of the planetarium, which allowed the teams to plan for the installation and placement of the projectors. Given the dome’s shape, installing the projector mounts were a challenge. “The way the dome is made, there is only a little space between the bottom of the dome and the stage under the seats. We had to put the projector in this space and precisely angle them.” As a result, Solotech created custom-made mounts to exactly fit the projectors within the dome.
With the projection system successfully installed, the dome now delivers the brightest on-screen image of any planetarium in North America, with 272,000 lumens illuminating the massive screen in 8K resolution. “When you are in the dome and you see eight 34,000 lumen projectors at the same time perfectly calibrated, it's mind-blowing,” says Giron. “Everyone involved was very happy with the results.”
“With our local partner Solotech, we are delighted to have installed this high-performing digital system in one of Canada’s leading science centres and planetariums, dedicated to innovative education in science and technology, and we are extremely satisfied by the rendering achieved by using Christie projectors,” says Gumus.
“The Infinity Dome theatre refurbishment is a true testament of the knowledge and collaboration between industry-leading companies and individuals,” says Doug Boyer, entertainment account manager, Christie. “The outcome is stunning, and we’re proud that our Griffyn projectors were selected as a best-in-class solution for this renowned science centre.”