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Special Venue Media: Central Texas College’s Mayborn Planetarium Goes Digital with Global Immersion

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Global Immersion has completed the full-scale digital upgrade of Mayborn Planetarium and Space Theater at Central Texas College in Killeen, TX, USA. The 5-channel Fidelity Bright™ fulldome solution employs a wide range of exciting technologies to allow the facility to support their extensive show portfolio in the 60-ft (18.3 meter) dome.

Named in honor of Frank W. and Sue Mayborn, the 180-seat theater first opened in August 2003 with a mission of employing both educational and entertaining programs in its fulldome environment. In keeping with this objective, the existing starball projector, large-format film-based projector and a high-powered Omniscan™ laser projection system have all remained at the planetarium – seamlessly integrated with the new digital solution to allow the facility to continue its varied show program.
Advanced AV Solution

The custom Fidelity Bright™ solution comprises a number of components and processes designed to create an accurate, premium fulldome display. Five projectiondesign® F32 WUXGA projectors have each undergone Global Immersion’s proprietary 22-stage Fidelity™ process prior to installation to ensure unrivaled performance and consistency across all channels. Purpose-built optical and electronic blending technologies, and pixel management software, were employed within the display configuration to produce invisible channel overlap and accurate image distortion correction for the dome’s curved surface.

Powering this new projection solution are two publicly-displayed server clusters loaded with a full Fidelity™ software suite for professional show production and editing, in addition to Uniview™ real-time data visualization software. This Global Immersion Media Server feeds an uncompressed digital video stream to the projection solution.

Jan Breens, Media and Content Coordinator at Global Immersion explained, “The new backend system allows the team to mix the two server video streams; reducing production and presentation time, effort and cost.” Breens continued, “The chroma-keying function that we have integrated allows them to do some pretty cool stuff too – they now have the capability to layer in multiple forms of real-time and pre-rendered content onto the dome simultaneously in a ‘picture-in-picture’ format, for truly unique fulldome shows.”

Turn-key Complimentary Technologies

To support Mayborn’s educational remit, an innovative touch-screen kiosk was designed for the theater entrance and loaded with pre-programmed Uniview clips to provide an enlightening pre-show area. This fully portable device will also accompany Mayborn staff in local outreach programs and school visits.
 
Additional ‘Exhibit Zones’ around the facility have been installed with high-specification audio solutions, each controllable via handheld, wireless internet devices for comprehensive and efficient management of the new presentation areas.

Within the planetarium, Global Immersion has supplied a cost-effective audience communication system consisting of 180 wireless ‘clickers’. The flexibility of this solution will allow presenters to generate real-time feedback from audiences, and for educators to conduct live ‘examinations’ and grading of each individual’s understanding of the presentation topic.

Mayborn’s Planetarium Director, Fred Chavez, commented, “Our new fulldome system is amazing!  The feeling of flight and stunning visuals capture your attention and take you on a fantastic ride. Being in a military community where many patrons have traveled the world, it will be nice to take them places they’ve never been before. Our experience with Global Immersion was great; we were brought into the process from the beginning and collaborated throughout. Each challenge was met with innovative and sensible solutions that kept our project on-time and on-budget. From the planning stages, through the delivery and installation, I felt confident I was getting the best system possible. Global didn’t let me down.”

Mayborn Planetarium launched its new planetarium show program on the upgraded system, including Clark Planetarium’s ‘Secret of the Cardboard Rocket’ and Denver Museum of Nature & Sciences ‘Black Holes’ productions, in September 2009. 
 
About Mayborn Planetarium & Space Theater

The Mayborn Planetarium & Space Theater is situated on the campus of Central Texas College and opened to the general public in August, 2003. Since then, thousands of visitors have enjoyed programs including Planetarium Sky Shows, Laser Light Shows, and Large Format Films. www.starsatnight.org/ 

About Global Immersion

Global Immersion is an award-winning organization, dedicated to the unique and innovative medium of immersive theater.
With over ten years experience in the world of fulldome displays and scientific data visualization, Global Immersion combines a broad range of proven technologies to create enthralling and exciting immersive theater. As a full-service team, they pull together exceptional theater design, advanced projection technologies, content production, user-friendly controls and advanced audio & lighting – all on a digital infrastructure. 

See also:
Special Venue Media: National Space Centre Planetarium Becomes latest Global Immersion DIY Install
Special Venue Media: Global Immersion Wins AV Award for California Academy of Sciences Planetarium
One of Highest Attended Planetariums in Europe Upgrades with Global Immersion
Global Immersion Wins Inavate Award for Fulldome and 3D at Cosmonova

See Features:
April 1st Exclusive: Global Immersion Sneak Preview of Its New SmartPixel [tm] Technology
Fulldome: Global Immersion’s Martin Howe talks about the Morrison Planetarium at the new California Academy of Sciences

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