8K Systems Demystified

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:

[Dome Master Frames]
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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.

[4k vs 8k comparison] [Dome Original Comparison]
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True8K™ is Truly 8K Resolution

E&S defines a True8K™ system as one that can display at least 8,000 pixels across every meridian on the dome. Meridians can be measured across the top of the dome through the zenith, or 180° around the circumference (spring line) of the dome. So, a True8K™ system provides a minimum of 8K resolution everywhere on the dome!

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.

[Dome AutoBlending]
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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
[True8K Theater]

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!

Additional Resources

E&S' True8K Digital Dome Demo in Beijing, China

On April 19, 2017, the largest planetarium and digital giant screen dome theater in the world hosted a demo of an Evans & Sutherland (E&S) True8K™ Digistar 6 digital dome system at the China Science and Technology Museum (CSTM). This was the first time a True8K system has been demonstrated outside of North America. The demo took place as part of the 7th Beijing International Film Festival. Delegates and VIPs from all around China witnessed this groundbreaking system designed to replace a 1570 film system and provide nearly unlimited astronomical and scientific visualization capabilities.

GSCA Digital Dome Demo 2016

On Friday, October 7, 2016, the Giant Screen Cinema Association's (GSCA) Technical Committee hosted a digital dome demo in the Shopper's Drug Mart Omnimax Theatre at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, Ontario. During this historic demo, the audience witnessed something that no other audience had ever seen before.

GSCA Dome Day 2015

As a follow-up to the world's first split screen demo between 15/70 film and 8K fulldome digital projection at the Science Museum of Virginia last October, Evans & Sutherland (E&S) again demonstrated an 8K Digistar 5 digital fulldome system at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California for the Giant Screen Cinema Association's (GSCA) Dome Day.

GSCA Digital Dome Day 2014 Wrap-Up

On October 22, 2014, the Giant Screen Cinema Association sponsored a digital dome demonstration at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, VA. Early this year, Evans & Sutherland installed an 8K resolution digital fulldome system to replace their existing 1570 giant screen film system. The museum has been running their new digital system since March 15, 2015. This event was an opportunity for over 50 delegates to evaluate the quality of the 8K resolution digital system and compare it directly to the 1570 film system. Glenn Shaver, Director of Featured Products, OMNIMAX and AV Operations at the Ontario Science Center, served as the day's master of ceremonies. For the first two-and-a-half hours, the Digistar 5 system displayed a variety of content, including some technical demonstrations that had never been done before.