Welcome to SkyTours with Derrick! If you've ever found yourself under the night sky wondering what that thing is, well, you've come to the right place to find out. I'll provide regular postings of just what's available for you to see at this time of this year, including planets, stars, constellations and my favorite - satellites! I'll also welcome your suggestions for what to add to the blog for your information and answer your questions.

Monday, September 29, 2014

New Planetarium Show's a Winner!

IPS/MIFF 2014 Best 3D Show Award Trophy

The Franklin Institute’s most recent planetarium show co-production, “To Space and Back”, received two more film festival awards this past June. The International Planetarium Society/Macao International Fulldome Festival selected TSAB as the best 3D planetarium show and the best 8K show over nearly 60 other entrants at the 2014 festival held in Macao, China. This brings the total number of awards to five since the show was released in March 2013. Co-produced by TFI and Sky-Skan, Inc., world leader in planetarium projection equipment, the show was written by Sky-Skan producer Annette Sotheran-Barnett and TFI Chief Astronomer Dr. Derrick Pitts. The other awards are:

-       First Prize – First International Fulldome Festival in Russia, 2013
-       First Prize Audience Choice – Imiloa Fulldome Film Festival, 2013
-       Honorable Mention – Jena/Zeiss Fulldome Film Festival, 2013
And this year:
-       Best 3D Show – IPS/Macao International Fulldome Festival
-       Best 8K Show – IPS/Macao International Fulldome Festival

Created to help viewers, particularly teen viewers, better understand how space exploration and satellite communications shapes their lives, TSAB uses innovative production and composition techniques to entertain viewers as they are drawn deeper into the story of their connection to space technologies every day.

While the show is produced in standard formats of 2K and 4K resolutions, show producer Sotheran-Barnett pushed the envelope on fulldome capability by building some of the most difficult and complex CGI models ever made for planetariums. Several scenes show the highest resolution fulldome projected images ever produced – 8K. To make these scenes most stunning, the show runs at 60 frames per second – twice the frame rate of the most sophisticated Hollywood films. The most advanced version presents the show in 8K resolution, at 60 frames per second, and in 3D! Because this version places such a high demand on playback computers and projectors, only the newest theaters with the most advanced playback equipment can run it – right now just two theaters in the world, Macao Science Center Planetarium and Beijing Planetarium – where the show premiered this past June.  TSAB currently plays in 30 theaters and on every continent except Antarctica.

The show runs 25 minutes and has two versions; one narrated by BBC Top Gear host James May, the other voiced by Pitts. The decision to add Pitts as a narrator came when the National Air and Space Museum’s Einstein Theater included that request for Pitts’ voice as part of their contract to run the show in Washington. The show opened at NASM in September.

Longtime Fels Planetarium show producer Pitts is very pleased with the success of what is currently the most technologically advanced and highly awarded planetarium show on the planet; “Right where a Fels Planetarium show should be,” he says. TFI and Sky-Skan plan to co-produce another fulldome blockbuster soon.

- 9/2014, by Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer, Franklin Institute Science Museum, dpitts@fi.edu, 215 448 1234.