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.

Apollo Moon Panoramas in SciDome

Thanks to Mary MacDonald at the Christa McAulliffe Center planetarium in Framingham, MA for sending me in this direction.

50 years after Apollo 11, there are still things to be discovered in the rock samples that were brought back. This week there is some news from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where mineralogists are going to open up some Apollo 17 rock samples that have been sealed since they were collected in the Taurus-Littrow Valley in December 1972.

The best resource that I know of for working online to find what happened when on which Apollo moonwalk is the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. If you have DVDs that play through the moonwalks in real time, those discs are useful, but the ALSJ website includes time-stamped transcripts of what was said, with running commentaries by the astronauts and experts provided later, with links to sound and image files of the Hasselblad photography that makes up the horizon panoramas that Starry Night uses on the lunar surface.

To visit one of the Apollo landing sites in SciDome, click on the ‘hamburger icon’ at the upper center of your Starry Night Preflight screen where it describes your location. Select ‘View From…’ and in the new window that pops up, pick ‘View from {the surface} of {the Moon}. By doing this, a list of Moon surface named locations should become visible, and if you type in the filter ‘Apo…’ the list will narrow down to only the sites you want to choose from. Select one, and then ‘View from Selected Location’.

Apollo 11

Sea of Tranquillity

The panorama here was taken by Neil Armstrong. Armstrong took all of the Hasselblad pictures and therefore he famously is not in any of them. Buzz Aldrin is standing beside the lunar module ‘Eagle’.

Apollo 12

Ocean of Storms

The Apollo Lunar Surface Journal labels this Alan Bean panorama as ‘Al’s 4 O’clock Pan’ because he was standing with the lunar module at about the 4 o’clock position from his point of view. The Sun was close to the eastern horizon (3 o’clock), with the lunar module (named Intrepid) facing away from the Sun towards 9 o’clock. However, Starry Night has turned this panorama so that the glare from the Sun on the horizon appears to be in the north, because the glare is somewhat objectionable, and better turned away from an audience that is unidirectionally seated.

The Apollo 12 TV camera is visible mounted on a tripod to the left of the sun glare. Although the astronauts set up a large S-band antenna in order to broadcast color television from the lunar surface for the first time, Bean pointed the camera at the Sun shortly after setting it up and broke it. All the rest of the existing footage from Apollo 12 is only 16mm movie film and still photography. The antenna dish is also prominent in this panorama. Pete Conrad is the astronaut in view beside Intrepid.

The special feature of Apollo 12 was its precision landing next to the Surveyor III soft landing probe that had been on the Moon since April 1967. The solar panels of Surveyor III are barely visible in this panorama because Surveyor was sitting inside of the large crater behind the lunar module, and this panorama was taken during the first moonwalk of the mission, before the Sun had fully risen above the crater rim. ALSJ includes several photos the astronauts took of Surveyor during the second moonwalk, 15 hours later, in full sunlight.

Apollo 14

Fra Mauro Highlands

Alan Shepard took this panorama due west of the lunar module Antares during the first moonwalk by himself and Edgar Mitchell, who is standing to the left of the lander in the panorama. Because it’s the first moonwalk, the Sun was close to the horizon again, and glare got into the Hasselblad camera when it was pointed at the lunar module. This panorama has also been rotated so the lunar module is at the back of the dome when you are looking south.

Apollo 15

Hadley Rille

Almost all of the Apollo 15 wide-angle panorama photography was taken by the lunar module pilot Jim Irwin. The commander Dave Scott had other responsibilities, such as some high-resolution photography he took with a special 500mm telephoto lens.

Station 2 pan: It looks like Irwin took several panoramas and other photography at this station. From here the astronauts were able to look down to the bottom of Hadley Rille.

Station 8 pan: Station 8 was also the site where Scott and Irwin set up their ALSEP experiments. Dave Scott is working at the back end of the Lunar Roving Vehicle. The lunar module Falcon is in the background, and you can see that it landed with the windows facing away from the Sun, shortly after local sunrise, so the shadows cast by the mountains around the landing site were nice and long. The cardinal points are correct (East is East.) You can also see that Falcon is tilted several degrees away from plumb where it came to rest.

Station 10 pan: Dave Scott appears in the panorama after dismounting from the LRV. The panorama is in black and white, but the stripes that were actually red on Scott’s helmet and suit are there.

Apollo 16

Descartes Highlands

Landing Site: This panorama was taken by lunar module pilot Charlie Duke at the beginning of the second moonwalk, with commander John Young walking in the background behind the lunar roving vehicle.

Plum Crater: John Young took this panorama after he and Duke had traversed almost halfway around Plum Crater from where they had parked the LRV. Duke is in this panorama twice; after he paused to be in one shot, he moved and Young waited until he was properly framed to be in the next one. There’s a particular rock sample which has been named “Big Muley” on the lunar surface just to the right of the LRV, so named because it is the largest single rock that was ever brought back from the Moon. It’s so big that it shows up in this panorama taken from more than 100 feet away.

Station 2 pan: The crater in this panorama taken by Charlie Duke is named Spook. John Young is in the panorama working on the LRV, possibly pointing the S-band antenna. The color TV cameras on Apollo 15, 16 and 17 were mounted on the LRV with a pan and tilt axis that was operated remotely from Houston, but the TV signal was only active when the astronauts manually pointed the S-band antenna at the Earth once they had parked the LRV.

Apollo 17

Taurus-Littrow Valley

“Schmitt” pan: Lunar module pilot and professional geologist Harrison Schmitt is the astronaut in this panorama, with the rake. The convention on Apollo 14-17 was that the commander wore red stripes on his space suit for identification purposes, and the lunar module pilot did not. On Apollo 11 and 12 there were no marks to help distinguish the one from the other. Jim Lovell would have worn the striped suit on Apollo 13, but as it turned out no moonwalk was necessary on that flight. This panorama was taken at Geology Station 1.

Station 5 pan: Described as a “superb pan” on ALSJ. taken by Gene Cernan.

If you haven’t added any extra movie clips to your SciDome about the Apollo missions in preparation for the Apollo 11 50th anniversary this summer, never fear: there are already some movie clips and still slides on your system, if you know where to look. the ‘SkyGuide’ pane is one of the non-presentation features that are listed on our SciDome Training Checklist, and it is described as ‘non-presentation’ because the media presented in SkyGuide doesn’t have a direct output on to the dome. SkyGuide can still load Starry Night scenes on to your dome, and the SkyGuide pane in Preflight can prompt you with text about the scenes, but if you want to use the SkyGuide pane’s two animations about Apollo 11 on a part of your dome, you need to locate them in the folder structure, copy them into a new ‘Apollo’ subfolder of your ‘Movies’ folder, and then refresh the movies cache.

Here is the folder location for those two Apollo 11 movie clips on your Preflight computer.

 C:\Program Files (x86)\Starry Night Preflight 7\SkyData\SkyGuide\skyguide\tours\spacemissions\apollo_missions_11\media

Then, to play these movie slides on  your dome, load them using the ‘slide’ cue in ATM-4.

Roundness of the Earth

Roundness of the Earth

48 years ago last week Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. There is another anniversary last week that seems appropriate to mention at this point: On July 20th of 1925 the greatest scene in American legal history took place, and it was an astronomy lesson.

You’re probably familiar with the play Inherit the Wind, which was based on the Scopes Monkey Trial. In the summer of 1925, more specifically on July 20th, on the courthouse lawn in Dayton, TN, Clarence Darrow had William Jennings Bryan on the witness stand to respectively challenge and defend the state’s Butler Act that prohibited public school teachers from denying the Biblical account of the origin of humanity.

Darrow and Bryan were agreed on the terms of the Earth being a sphere, and that the Earth orbits around the Sun and not the other way round. Therefore it was necessary for them to interpret the biblical passages that seemed to indicate that the Earth was flat and that the Sun stopped at midday for Joshua.

Illustration of Erastothenes’ method by CMG Lee. CC BY-SA 4.0

That the Earth was round, and that the Earth was turning and the Sun was at the axis of the solar system was not difficult to accept in 1925. People were familiar with Eratosthenes’ 3rd-Century-BC experiment in Egypt to estimate the circumference of the Earth (252,000 stadia.) They were also familiar with the great American novelist Washington Irving’s biography of Christopher Columbus, which laid out Columbus’ theory of the roundness of the Earth and his discovery of America obstructing the route to India.

That the Earth was round was also not difficult to accept in the 1480s when Columbus solicited the crowned heads of Europe to fund his voyage to India. It’s just a simplification of Washington Irving’s biography of Columbus to say that Columbus was trying to prove that the Earth was round and that his opposites held that it was flat. In the 4th chapter of the biography, the author puts Columbus in front of the School of Salamanca where he is criticized for the way he contradicts classical dogma from Saint Augustine in the 4th Century AD concerning the “Doctrine of Antipodes“.

In modernity, the antipodes are the geographic point opposite one’s position on the globe, but these medieval Antipodes were the mythical people supposed to inhabit the southern hemisphere who walked upside down (antipode meaning “reversed feet.”) but Saint Augustine did not dispute that the Earth was round:

“As to the fable that there are Antipodes, that is to say, men on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets to us, that is on no ground credible. And, indeed, it is not affirmed that this has been learned by historical knowledge, but by scientific conjecture, on the ground that the earth is suspended within the concavity of the sky, and that it has as much room on the one side of it as on the other: hence they say that the part which is beneath must also be inhabited. But they do not remark that, although it be supposed or scientifically demonstrated that the world is of a round and spherical form, yet it does not follow that the other side of the earth is bare of water; nor even, though it be bare, does it immediately follow that it is peopled.”

Columbus’ critics in the Inquisition, if any, subscribed to dogma that the Earth was round but that human civilization was limited to the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere by the Torrid Zone at the equator. That there was a corresponding southern temperate zone in the southern hemisphere, but that humans created in Genesis could not exist there because the Garden of Eden was in the north and the Torrid Zone was impassable or nearly so. That navigation to get there wasn’t easy because there was no North Star in the south, and the Doldrum Belt made headway under sail to the opposite end of the Earth impossible. The 1st-Century-BC Roman writer Cicero had written about the impassable Torrid Zone in an item called the Dream of Scipio, which is a good basis for an old-timey planetarium show in itself.

“Moreover you see that this earth is girdled and surrounded by certain belts, as it were; of which two, the most remote from each other, and which rest upon the poles of the heaven at either end, have become rigid with frost; while that one in the middle, which is also the largest, is scorched by the burning heat of the sun. Two are habitable; of these, that one in the South—men standing in which have their feet planted right opposite to yours—has no connection with your race: moreover this other, in the Northern hemisphere which you inhabit, see in how small a measure it concerns you! For all the earth, which you inhabit, being narrow in the direction of the poles, broader East and West, is a kind of little island surrounded by the waters of that sea, which you on earth call the Atlantic, the Great Sea, the Ocean; and yet though it has such a grand name, see how small it really is!”

It is true that Columbus was trying to sail around the world to reach India, and that he had underestimated the circumference of the Earth due to a conversion error from Eratosthenes: by the 15th Century, the value of 252,000 stadia was remembered, but the value of a stadion was uncertain, and Columbus used the wrong value. Therefore the Earth seemed smaller, and globes of the Earth from that period show the East Indies on the western edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

Columbus was convinced that the Torrid Zone was not a barrier to travel. Earlier in his career he had sailed to West Africa, almost to the Equator. The first European transit of the Cape of Good Hope (which is in the southern temperate zone) into the Indian Ocean was by the Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, two years after Columbus’s first unsuccessful examination at Salamanca.

This 1492 globe of the Earth is under a Creative Commons licence, so feel free to demonstrate it via its own API. It could be converted and wrapped around the Earth in Starry Night, but I don’t feel ready make the final product available for SciDome at this time due to the rights.

However, there are lots of ways to use SciDome to demonstrate that the Earth is round. The upcoming total solar eclipse is one event that is not easy for flat-earth believers to explain, when its occurrence is so accurately predicted with established science. Performing Eratosthenes’ experiment in SciDome is not difficult, by displaying the sky above his two observing stations in Alexandria and Aswan at local noon on June 21st with the Local Meridian switched on with graduations.

Now that we have established that the roundness of the Earth was accepted by both sides in the 1925 Scopes Trial, and that the roundness of the Earth was accepted by both Columbus and his critics (admitting serious gaps in the knowledge of both sides) and by the ancient Greeks, I hope that we can help elevate current concerns about the Earth being flat. I understand that a large billboard was recently used in suburban Philadelphia next to the freeway to state “Research Flat Earth”. And when we argue against modern flat-earth believers, we should not compare their belief to Columbus’s critics, and commit another simplification of the actual story.