“Atlas of a Changing Earth” Explores Earth’s Future

“Atlas of a Changing Earth” Explores Earth’s Future

New documentary brings together the power of supercomputers and the detail of satellite images mapping every square meter of Earth to visualize our planet’s future in the wake of climate change

A new immersive documentary, Atlas of a Changing Earth, explores how images from space are shedding new light on our planet’s evolution in the wake of rising global temperatures. Atlas of a Changing Earth is being distributed by Cosm Studios and is available for booking now as a 24-minute fulldome show for planetariums, museums and science centers, and as a 50-minute, 4K flat screen show for television and streaming distribution worldwide.

The show has already been booked by several museums, including Museum of the Rockies and Morehead Planetarium, and it will be featured on Amazon Prime Video and distributed to broadcast television in Europe through TVF International.

Atlas of a Changing Earth is being featured at a number of upcoming festivals and industry events. It was screened at Dome Fest West in Los Angeles, Oct. 8–10, 2021, where it was honored as Best Environmental Film. It has also been selected to be shown at IEEE’s VIS 2021 virtual forum Oct. 24-29, and the Minsk International Fulldome Festival Oct 14-17 in the Republic of Belarus. ACM SIGGRAPH, a virtual event in 2021 available through Oct. 29, features excerpts from Atlas of a Changing Earth in its program.

Taking viewers into the dynamic processes that cause coastal glaciers to melt, Atlas of a Changing Earth and explores how rising seas could threaten coastlines around the world. Satellite imagery is being used to map every square meter of the planet, providing a highly detailed view of remote areas of the world like Antarctica and Greenland. The cutting-edge visuals in Atlas of a Changing Earth were produced by the confluence of new satellite mapping techniques and the power of supercomputer visualizations, revealing Earth in a degree of precise detail scarcely imagined a generation ago.

Atlas of a Changing Earth is directed by Thomas Lucas of Thomas Lucas Productions and produced by Mike Bruno, Dr. Donna J. Cox, Robert Patterson and Bradley Thompson. It builds on the success of two award-winning Earth science shows distributed by Spitz and Evans & Sutherland: Dynamic Earth: Exploring Earth’s Climate Engine (2012) and Birth of Planet Earth (2019). It also reunites the accomplished team that worked on those successful shows — for their final collaboration.

After the completion of Atlas of a Changing Earth this year, Bruno, the director of Spitz Creative Media, retired after 39 years with Spitz, and Cox retired after 36 years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a Professor of Art & Design and Director of the Advanced Visualization Lab (AVL). Their documentaries have been distributed to over 150 planetaria in a dozen languages.

Atlas of a Changing Earth premiered at Spitz Digital Institute 2021 and screened on the Evans & Sutherland DomeX LED dome system at The Cosm Experience Center in Salt Lake City, where participants in the Digistar Users Group (DUG) meeting October 4-8 were able to view it. Cosm CEO and President Jeb Terry, Jr. says, “This show is cutting-edge digital cinema, so it’s only fitting to feature it on DomeX, the world’s first 8K immersive LED dome.”

In Atlas of a Changing Earth, audiences will see how scientists can now track and predict changes in ice coverage in detail through a combination of time-lapse footage and climate model simulations. This technology enables viewers to experience the impact sea rise could have on coastal cities around the world through flood simulations. Atlas of a Changing Earth also takes audiences underneath a glacier to show how ocean currents can melt even massive ice sheets.

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) contributed hundreds of thousands of hours of supercomputing time to produce the stunning images in the show. Kalina Borkiewicz, Principal Research Programmer for the NCSA explains, “Supercomputing is one of the only ways to process the huge amounts of complex data required to make predictions about our future climate and to accurately show the fascinating intricacies of the present glacier melt.”

These compelling visualizations help audiences better understand the potential impacts of climate change. Brad Thompson, Animation/CG Director for Cosm Studios says, “Science can be complex, and people rely on the theaters and institutions that show this content to help them understand it.” Thompson’s fulldome credits include award-winning productions “Dynamic Earth,” “Black Holes: the Other Side of Infinity” and “Supervolcanoes,” and he shares that he learns something new himself with every show he works on. “This time, working on the flood simulator, I learned how much water is tied up ice sheets and glaciers, and how little sea rise it would take to devastate coastal cities. It’s common knowledge that climate change can cause sea levels to rise. But seeing flooding in Miami and Amsterdam visualized in Atlas of a Changing Earth allows viewers to understand and experience the devastation rising seas would create,” says Thompson.

“This documentary is so timely and important,” says Borkiewicz, “because Atlas of a Changing Earth conveys the extent to which climate change has already altered the environment. But it also demonstrates that there is still time to act. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions now can protect polar ice sheets while slowing the floods, wildfires and extreme weather events caused by climate change.”

Atlas of a Changing Earth is narrated by actress January LaVoy, best known for her role as Noelle Ortiz-Stubbs on the long-running ABC daytime drama One Life to Live. The documentary is a co-production of the Advanced Visualization Lab at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications/University of Illinois, Spitz Creative Media, NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio and documentary producer Thomas Lucas. Principal collaborators include Ohio State’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, University of Minnesota’s Polar Geospatial Center, the University of Illinois Blue Waters Project, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Science Foundation.

"Atlas of a Changing Earth" poster
Still from "Atlas of a Changing Earth"
Evans & Sutherland Shares the Future of Giant Screen Cinema at GSCA Virtual Film Expo, Spotlights DomeX Immersive Experience

Evans & Sutherland Shares the Future of Giant Screen Cinema at GSCA Virtual Film Expo, Spotlights DomeX Immersive Experience

We’ve long been a supporter of, and an advocate for the Giant Screen Cinema community, and we’re incredibly excited for what the future holds.

So, it was our pleasure for Evans & Sutherland, a Cosm Company, to spotlight our groundbreaking advances in immersive innovation for the Giant Screen Cinema community at the GSCA Virtual Film Expo last week.  As the show’s exclusive Virtual Partner, we presented technical advances in content and dome display from the Cosm Experience Center’s DomeX, our new 20-meter diameter 8K LED immersive dome on the campus of the E&S global headquarters.

There’s never been a more important time to support the Giant Screen Cinema community. As GSCA theaters have adapted to the challenges of the pandemic in the last year, we have invested deeply in the future success of the industry by developing innovations that will impact their long-term success and appeal to audiences.

An impactful, new audience experience: In a specially produced virtual tour of DomeX, we proudly provided a comprehensive overview of the dome system, delivering a more immersive and first-of-its-kind user experience. With the LED immersive dome, audiences view richer, deeper, and more accurate colors, while benefiting from unparalleled brightness and contrast levels.  As the embodiment of next-generation LED immersive experiences, DomeX is the only one of its kind in the world, and a key investment in our unwavering support industry.

A display to transport your audiences: Over the years of DomeX development, we have carefully considered engineering the best possible display.  Until now, all dome displays consisted of a projection system and reflective screen service.  Audiences were subject to quality of display that was only as good as the projector and screen used.  With the DomeX LED immersive dome, we have improved the user experience immensely and transport the audience to another dimension, thanks to the 8K display.

From “Cosm black” to brightness. Other structural and design improvements of DomeX also contribute to the user experience.  As an example, because the DomeX’s panels are matte black, cross-reflection is virtually eliminated.    Likewise, the brightness of a DomeX dome is an astonishing 150 foot-lamberts, ten times brighter than the current cinema standard.  In terms of audio, sound is able to pass through the perforated panels, creating a truly wow moment for audiences.

Limitless content possibilities: For the Giant Screen Cinema operator, there’s virtually no limit to content possibilities with new, emerging opportunities to make programs more immediate, more local, more diverse, and more relevant to theaters.

Evans & Sutherland is constantly striving to advance technology and ultimately, audience excitement about immersive cinema. We’re hopeful our investments in Giant Screen Cinema impact the success of GSC theaters, as we push visual fidelity as never before.

We hope you’re as excited about the future of the Giant Cinema Screen industry as we are, and we hope to see you in person at future shows and industry events.  We encourage and welcome you to visit DomeX in person and see for yourself how we’re revolutionizing the dome experience.

E&S Director of Business Development Scott Huggins presents from DomeX at the Cosm Experience Center for GSCA Virtual Film Expo 2021

Scott Huggins, Director of Business Development for E&S, virtually presents the future of Giant Screen Cinema to GSCA from Cosm Experience Center’s DomeX.

E&S Executive Vice President & General Manager Kirk Johnson with Cosm CEO Jeb Terry in front of DomeX immersive LED dome at the Cosm Experience Center

“As industry innovators and the leaders in dome display, we see investment in Giant Screen Cinema as central to our mission.  We’re excited about the future of technology and constantly improving audience experiences.”  – Kirk Johnson, E&S Executive Vice President and General Manager, pictured with Cosm CEO Jeb Terry in front of the DomeX immersive LED Dome at the Cosm Experience Center at E&S HQ in Salt Lake City. 

Our takeaways from The Society of German-Speaking Planetaria (GDP) Annual Meeting

Our takeaways from The Society of German-Speaking Planetaria (GDP) Annual Meeting

The future of LED display tech is here

Evans & Sutherland, a Cosm company, was honored to sponsor The Society of German-Speaking Planetaria (GDP) Annual Meeting on April 18. The virtual gathering marked the kickoff of show season in our industry this year to share our technology and enthusiasm for planetariums.

Some takeaways from the show:

The future of LED display tech is here.  First, the virtual format gave us a terrific opportunity to showcase DomeX at our Cosm Experience Center in Salt Lake City. DomeX is a 20-meter diameter 8K LED immersive dome and the only one of its kind in the world. We see this technological marvel as a giant step forward, improving the user experience by delivering rich, deep and accurate colors, as well as brightness and contrast levels never before achieved.

With our partner Cosm company, Spitz, we designed the dome structure to allow panel alignment down to the width of a human hair, while still maintaining easy access and removal of panels, if needed.  We at E&S and Spitz are continually researching and innovating to drive the future of LED display technology.  As travel allows, we hope you’ll visit DomeX in person and see for yourself how we’re revolutionizing the dome experience.

Digistar 7 is new and improved to make your shows amazing. At GDP, we were happy to share an update on our seventh iteration of our core 3D rendering engine, Digistar, which shows real-time rendered environments and live-streamed and recorded videos.  We’ve made the world’s best planetarium software even better with new features like MicroCosmos, SkyID, biodiversity plug-ins, and an improved Show Builder.

NanoSeam enhances the viewing experience for audiences worldwide. The show also provided a foundation to profile our Spitz NanoSeam dome installations.  Since 2007, NanoSeam domes have been the most popular choice for planetariums and remain so today, with more than 30 new installations and re-panels since the start of last year. Customers tell us they love the seamless immersive experience made available by Nanoseam technology.  To date, we’ve installed more than 250 NanoSeam screens throughout the world, including Berlin, Amberg, and Heilbronn in the German-speaking region.

The pandemic didn’t stop us from welcoming new users into the family. Despite the pandemic, we’ve been fortunate to install a dozen new and upgraded Digistar sites in Europe this past year, including Curiosum, the new science center in Umeå, Planetarium Hamburg, Tycho Brahe Planetarium, and more to demonstrate our leading technology and know-how. We hope you’ll have a chance to visit them soon.

Get ready for great, new shows to share with your visitors. Our creators have been working diligently to produce inspiring and engaging full dome content, including Atlas of a Changing Earth and Black Hole: First Picture, which premiere later this year.  We’ve had a sneak preview and know audiences will love them.  Stay tuned!

How can we help you power your experience? If you’d like a virtual tour of DomeX at the Cosm Experience Center or to take another look at our Digistar 7 features, you’ll find them on our E&S GDP site. We hope you’re as excited about the future of our industry as we are and looking forward to seeing you at coming shows.

Exterior of planetarium at Curiosum in Umeå, Sweden
Digistar 7 imagery on the dome at Tycho Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen, Denmark
Hamburg Planetarium
Evans & Sutherland Supports GSCA as the Exclusive Partner Sponsor for Virtual Film Expo 2021

Evans & Sutherland Supports GSCA as the Exclusive Partner Sponsor for Virtual Film Expo 2021

April 15, 2021—The Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) is pleased to announce Evans & Sutherland, a Cosm Company, as the exclusive Partner Sponsor for Virtual Film Expo 2021, April 19–23.

Evans & Sutherland (E&S) is a committed supporter of GSCA, and believes their major contribution to the Virtual Film Expo is an important step in helping the Association grow and advance the industry. As GSCA theaters adapt to the challenges of Coronavirus worldwide, E&S is investing in the future success of Giant Screen theaters and innovative technologies that will impact long-term success.

E&S will showcase its technical advancements during the GSCA Virtual Film Expo, including a comprehensive look at the DomeX LED dome system, a next-generation spherical screen with an LED display surface.

“There’s never been a more important time to support the Giant Screen Cinema community,” said Scott Huggins, Director of Business Development for E&S. “We’re constantly striving to advance technology and, ultimately, audience excitement about immersive cinema. We’re hopeful our investments in Giant Screen Cinema impact the success of GSC theaters and provide inspiring experiences for their audiences.”

GSCA attendees are invited to learn about advances in digital display and diverse content for theaters during the session on Fri., Apr. 23, at 1 p.m., ET.  E&S will also share information about innovations in show content and alternative applications for dome display systems.

“Evans & Sutherland continues to display its commitment to the giant screen industry, the dome theaters in particular, year after year,” said GSCA Executive Director Tammy Barrett. “Their support is instrumental in GSCA being able to produce the high-quality events our members expect and deserve.”

“We are very proud of our commitment to GSCA as a Partner sponsor for Virtual Film Expo,” said Kirk Johnson, E&S Executive Vice President and General Manager. “As industry innovators and the leaders in dome display, we see investment in Giant Screen Cinema as central to the E&S mission, and we’re excited about the future of our technology and its impact on the audience experience.”

E&S is currently showcasing innovations in content and dome display applications at its new Experience Center, located in the University of Utah’s research park in Salt Lake City. The Center showcases DomeX, an 8K immersive LED dome and the only one of its kind in the world. Visitors experience the awe-inspiring LED technology while also viewing its predecessor, the Spitz NanoSeam, the market leader in projection screens. With the DomeX LED display, the company improves the viewer experience and overcomes limitations of projection-based systems: shadows, resolution, contrast, reflections, brightness, and more. The experience is powered by the seventh iteration of E&S’s core rendering engine, Digistar, showing real-time rendered environments, live-streamed and recorded videos, and live content integrations with Unreal Engine and Unity.

The DomeX display is a LED 20-meter diameter truncated dome vertically positioned to allow viewers full floor to ceiling immersion. It touts over 5,000 square feet of display, with 8K resolution, 29.5 million pixels, and ~4.5 miles of CAT6 data cable. 

The GSCA Virtual Film Expo 2021 will be held April 19, 21, and 23, and will feature on-demand screenings of new films, films in production, and projects in development; an innovations session including presentations on the history of aspect ratio, a high-resolution camera shootout, and processes for digitally scanning 65mm film; the sessions The State of the Giant Screen Industry, Improving the Business Model: We Know It Has to Change, But How Exactly?, and Theater Re-opening Tips and Best Practices; and many opportunities to network and connect on the digital platform. More information can be found at www.giantscreencinema.com/Events/Virtual-Film-Expo-2021

About Evans and Sutherland  

Evans & Sutherland, a Cosm company, provides DomeX immersive LED domes, in combination with ESX, the world’s most advanced giant dome cinema and full dome planetarium playback system, ideal for replacing 15/70 film systems. E&S combines fulldome video playback in 2D and 3D with a comprehensive real time 3D digital simulation package, all within an easy-to-use graphical user interface that makes creating shows simple and intuitive. E&S invented digital projection in domes, and created the first immersive fulldome installations. As a full-service system provider, E&S offers Spitz domes, planetariums, and a full range of theater systems. E&S markets include planetarium theaters, science centers, themed attraction venues, and premium large-format theaters. E&S products have been installed in over 2,000 theaters worldwide.  

About GSCA 
The Giant Screen Cinema Association’s mission is to facilitate communication, information sharing, and the development of best practices to support the production and exhibition of original, high-quality, educational, and entertaining giant screen cinema experiences. GSCA’s membership includes more than 250 organizations in nearly 30 countries. Member organizations include giant screen filmmakers, distributors, theaters, suppliers, manufacturers, and students from around the world.

Stars Shine Bright in Shanghai

Stars Shine Bright in Shanghai

In 1994, Evans & Sutherland (E&S) and Spitz, Inc. ventured to China, bringing dome planetariums, cutting edge software, and large format screens to a new frontier. We have worked hand-in-hand with our partners in China, growing the number of premiere planetariums to over 70. From Shenzhen to Beijing and Henan to Shanghai, it has been an honor to bring the heavens to earth for over two decades.

Our rich history of innovation in China culminates in 2021 with the grand opening of the Shanghai Astronomy Museum which is a branch of the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum in Lingang New City, Pudong New Area district, Shanghai. E&S and Spitz contributed to multiple installations on this project.

‘This planetarium is the largest in the world at over 400,000 sq ft, designed by Ennead Architects; it is one of the most impressive and innovative dedicated planetarium and astronomy museums built to date.

Harmonious design

The Shanghai Astronomy Museum embodies three principal architectural forms: The Oculus, the Inverted Dome, and the Sphere, which houses a Spitz NanoSeam dome. Each of these design elements plays a role in the patron experience, harmonizing the journey through time, the infinitesimal presence of humanity in the vast cosmos, and power of the sun illuminating life on earth.

Continuous skylight circumnavigating the sphere

The Oculus tracks a circle of sunlight on the ground across the entryway and over the reflecting pools, demonstrating movement through time. The Inverted Dome provides an authentic experience of both day and night, marking the drumbeat cadence of days. The Sphere is an astronomical instrument tracking the sun, moon, and stars.

It exemplifies our place in this vast universe, and the origins of our concept of time rooted in ancient and distant astronomical objects. A continuous skylight circumnavigating the Sphere allows direct sunlight to peek in, celebrating the passage of time. The absolute brilliance of this design is revealed at the noon hour of the summer solstice when a complete ring of sunlight shines through to the floor below.

Housing and powering the science and art installation

Shanghai Astronomy Museum contains two Spitz NanoSeam domes. The first domed planetarium screen, which creates the Sphere, is 23 meters in diameter with a 30-degree tilt and 165-degree field of view. This dome is powered by Digistar 7 and boasts 20 Sony GTZ280 projectors with 14K+ resolution.

The second dome, also powered by Digistar 7, is a 17-meter dome in diameter with two Sony GTZ280 projectors and a Goto Orpheus Optical Star Projector. This dome operates as a science and art installation space rather than a fulltime planetarium. (In fact, there are currently 42 Digistar systems and 28 Spitz NanoSeam domes in China, along with a handful of older E&S and Spitz installations.)

The Shanghai Astronomy Museum unites art and science, reflecting both in the universe. Sunlight illuminates the journey, guiding patrons through space and time. The vastness of the heavens is captured in the building’s scale and in the viewing opportunities of the cosmos. E&S and Spitz are honored to participate in a project of such grand scale and fine-tuned detail. The Shanghai Astronomy Museum is proof that the sky is not the limit.

Shanghai Astronomy Museum, featuring Digistar 7 and Spitz NanoSeam dome as centerpieceShanghai Astronomy Museum, featuring Digistar 7 and Spitz NanoSeam dome as centerpiece

Image: ATCHAIN for Ennead

Shanghai Astronomy Museum, featuring Digistar 7 and Spitz NanoSeam dome as centerpiece

Image: ATCHAIN for Ennead

Shanghai Astronomy Museum, featuring Digistar 7 and Spitz NanoSeam dome as centerpiece

Image: ATCHAIN for Ennead