8K or "8K"? Yep, it's confusing...
The term "8K" is one of the latest buzz words in the fulldome community; however, as of today, there is no industry specification or standard definition for 8K resolution. In its true form, 8K is four times the resolution of 4K fulldome, and 8K show production typically requires production of 8192 x 8192 dome master frames with four times the number of pixels in a 4K dome master. See below:
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Many have taken liberties in calling display systems that use five or six 4K projectors 8K solutions, when they actually do not produce the number of unique pixels required for actual 8K x 8K resolution. In fact, these so-called 8K systems are only about three times the resolution of 4K or about 6K x 6K, with only about 30 million unique pixels on the dome (about two-and-a-half times the resolution of 4K x 4K systems). To be fair, these are beautiful systems, but they are simply not 8K. Therefore, we refer to them as "8K" systems (in quotation marks to emphasize that these systems are not actually 8K). To be truly 8K, you need four times the resolution of 4K systems.
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True8K™ is Truly 8K Resolution
E&S defines a True8K™ system as one that can display an average of 8,000 pixels across the meridian at any location on the dome. This results in more than 50 million unique pixels on a dome surface. This True8K™ specification comes from the following calculation: 8K x 8K = 64 megapixels in a square; however, in the dome we lose the corners when the image is projected on the round dome (8K * 8K * (π/4) = 50.265 megapixels). So, a True8K™ system, by definition, will produce 50 million unique pixels on the dome. Achieving actual 8K resolution on the dome requires ten to twelve 4K x 2K projectors depending on the lens and overlap regions to produce the necessary number of pixels.
The Path to True8K™
To create and consistently maintain the beauty of this incredibly high resolution system. E&S has developed proprietary auto align and auto blend systems to create beautifully blended images that can be maintained easily in a theater installation. This creates a beautifully seamless fulldome image that looks as if it was displayed by a single projector.
It is also essential to be able to synchronize all the displayed pixels accurately between all computers and projectors, so that every frame of every show appears at exactly the same time without any asynchronous judder or breakup between video streams. To this end, E&S has developed a custom video sync technology with the capability to stream millions of pixels and present them in frame accurate synchronization across multiple graphic servers in the Digistar system, for dependable and precise display of 8K x 8K fulldome frames at up to 60 frames per second! E&S can provide True8K™ systems, both 2D and fulldome 3D, that approach eye limited resolution in the dome for unparalleled image quality.
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Truke8K™ Resolution Benefits
- Smaller & sharper stars
- Increased visual clarity for fulldome shows and giant screen film digital transfers
- Greatly increased brightness for fulldome 2D and 3D
The World's First True8K™ Theater
In March 2016, we will install the world's first True8K™ system in the Burke Baker Planetarium at the Houston Museum of Natural Science using Digistar 5 with 10 Sony VPL-GTZ280 4K laser phosphor projectors. This will be the highest resolution fulldome system in the world.
E&S Also Provides Spectacular "8K" Systems
We have also installed numerous high resolution "8K" solution in fulldome theaters around the world, including dome theaters that have converted from IMAX 1570 film systems. These systems achieve "8K" resolution (~30 unique megapixels on the dome) with five or six JVC 4K, Christie 4K, or Sony 4K projectors.
We have demonstrated our "8K" systems for the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) at the GSCA Digital Dome Demo in October 2014 at the Science Museum of Virginia and at the GSCA Dome Day in September 2015 at The Tech Museum of Innovation.
Paul Fraser, President of Blaze Digital Cinema Works, said of the E&S "8K" demo at the Science Museum of Virginia, "The split-screen comparison between 15/70 film and digital fulldome was the highlight of dome day. (Kudo's to E&S for pulling off such a technically challenging demo). For me, this was a groundbreaking demo that instantly burned into my memory. It was proof of a very important industry development: that digital fulldome can be an acceptable replacement to 1570 film for the truly giant domes, from a quality of image standpoint."
E&S "8K" systems provide an efficient use of the computed pixels and brightness to create affordable ultra-high resolution "8K" resolution on the dome; whereas, E&S True8K™ systems provide an unparalleled digital fulldome visual experience.
E&S "8K" and True8K™ Theaters
- Science Centre Singapore (IMAX film replacement) – "8K"
- Science Center of Virginia (IMAX film replacement) – "8K"
- Taiwan National Museum of Natural Science (IMAX film replacement) – "8K"
- Shanghai Natural History Museum (Cambrian theater) – "8K"
- Swiss Transport Museum – "8K"
- Houston Museum of Natural Science – True8K™
- Griffith Observatory – "8K"
- EC1 – Lodz, Poland – "8K"
- More "8K" and True8K™ theaters to be announced soon!