Plugged In

Take a sneak peek into the Omnitheater’s next chapter!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Posted by
Sarah Imholte

The movie experience in the William L. McKnight-3M Omnitheater is an unforgettable one.

Its 90 foot convertible domed screen, which uses RoDo technology to rotate it into position, is the only one of its kind in the world. It, in combination with a state-of-the-art surround sound system, has a unique way of pulling the viewer into the center of the action, delivering the Omnitheater’s signature “you are there” experience that viewers of all ages have come to know and love.

Over the past four decades, the Omnitheater has taken viewers to the ocean floor, deep into outer space, and to every corner of the globe in a way that no other theater can.

As the industry moves forward, it’s time to take a leap from a film-based world to a digital-based world, and this fall, the Omnitheater will be doing just that. Sunday, August 4 is the last day for the Omnitheater’s film projection system. Beginning on Monday, August 5, our crews will begin the final phase of our conversion to the latest IMAX digital technology. After a ten-week theater shutdown, we will unveil the new system with the premiere of the much-anticipated Superpower Dogs giant screen film on Thursday, October 17.

 “We’ve been working hard on a ground-up design, laser-illuminated digital projection system that will replace our film system,” says Mike Day, the original director of the Omnitheater and executive producer of 15 Science Museum original productions. “It’s all going to happen in August and September of this year, after many years of R&D and close work with world-class partners. Now we’re able to put film to bed.”

Why the change?
Digital technology poses many advantages, including image stability and a long-lived laser light source that doesn’t degrade over time like the current film projection system’s xenon lamp. In addition, says Day, filmmakers no longer shoot on film. They’ve moved to using digital technology to tell their stories.

“The big challenge has been there is no digital projector in the world that can match the quality of the film presentation that we have been delivering for 40 years in the Omnitheater,” continues Day. “That necessitated a lot of research and development and time and financial support to work with IMAX to create a new system, and now we’re ready to deliver.”

What does this mean for the average Omnitheater viewer? The new digital laser projection system will allow for even better contrast, brightness, clarity, and color – features that viewers have come to expect in the Omnitheater. The sound system, another critical part of the Omnitheater experience, will be updated, as well, using new IMAX NXOS technology that will deliver heart-pounding audio to accompany the crisp, colorful images on screen.

Digital projection technology will also open the Omnitheater up to a new inventory of digital film content that will become available in the coming years.

And with this conversion, the Omnitheater remains at the forefront of the giant screen industry. Once the new system is up in running, it will be only the third IMAX digital laser dome in the world.

“The Science Museum of Minnesota has always been a leader in this industry,” says Day. “Back in the 1970s, the board of trustees made the bold decision to build the Omnitheater. We’ve had generous financial supporters from the very beginning – and we’ve sustained that level of support and commitment. We’ve always been involved in the production and distribution of films, building industry partnerships and leading or supporting the production of 17 giant screen films. We’ve been a beta site for this new digital projection technology, and as a leading member of the Giant Dome Theater Consortium, we will continue to be a leader in the content production in the digital world.”

Thanks to longstanding support and sophisticated new technology, the Omnitheater’s future looks bright, in more ways than one.

Don’t miss your last chance to take in an Omnitheater show on film!
We’re saying goodbye to our film projection system with a closing weekend package that you won’t want to miss. On August 2, 3, and 4, you can take in two Omnitheater films (Apollo 11: First Steps Edition and CUBA) for just $13.95 (you save more than $5). As always, the first film of the day is free for Science Museum members, and during closing weekend, a second film is just $4 per person.

Join us as we bid farewell to our original technology – and look forward to what lies ahead!

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