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Planetariums
Science in the sky

The new planetarium at the Techmania Science Center in Plzen is the first 3D planetarium to be built in the Czech Republic. We find out more about the project and how it will enhance the science attraction’s offer

By Julie Cramer | Published in Attractions Management 2014 issue 1



Vlastimil Volák CEO Techmania Science Center

 

Vlastimil Volák
 

Why did you decide to build a new planetarium?
We wanted to come up with new ideas to help popularise science and extend Techmania’s more informal tools of education. So we decided to create a very special planetarium – the first 3D Planetarium in the Czech Republic.

How much has been invested in the project?
When reconstruction of additional areas of the science centre as a whole is finished in June 2014, overall investment in the project will be about CZK 600m (US$30m, £18.1m, E22m). European funding for the building and equipment of our 3D Planetarium was around CZK 140m (US$6.9m, £4.2m, E5m).

What benefits will the new planetarium bring to Techmania?
With the help of the 3D Planetarium, we can extend the offer of popular science for our visitors. Physics, astrophysics, chemistry, mathematics, as well as biology, geography and geology are now the wonderful fields of knowledge we’re able to communicate to visitors. We can also focus on attracting more visitors. In the first month of opening, over 10,000 visitors came to the new attraction.

What are its unique features?
There are three main features. Firstly, the 2D and 3D full dome projections offer a great variety of educational movies. Secondly, the Science On a Sphere technology in its own separate mini-theatre [where projections are made onto a suspended globe] enables original ways of presenting scientific as well as wider educational issues.

Finally, the Space exhibition, containing 27 interactive exhibits made by the Techmania team, guides visitors around the elements of space and its exploration. With all these features, our main aim was to offer interactivity, fun and great educational value.

What shows will you be offering?
There are both 2D and 3D movies – some of them we purchased and others we’ve made ourselves. The ‘Heaven above Plzen’, for example, is a show explaining the constellation of stars in the sky in different seasons. We also have the Gyroscope Show, which explains G-force and disorientation in orbit. We’re open seven days in a week, and all the show and movies we offer run on a daily basis. 

How many visitors do you expect to attract to the new planetarium each year?
In March, there will be newer parts of the science centre open, so we hope and believe we’ll finish 2014 with around 200,000 satisfied, entertained and well-educated visitors.

What kind of tickets and prices do you offer?
We offer full price, reduced price, group and family tickets. You can visit the Space exhibition and the Science On a Sphere show separately, or just go to see the 2D and 3D programmes. There are variations for all the target groups that Techmania attracts.

What are your future plans at Techmania?
The future is clear: we want to become an integral part of informal education for schools and the public in the Czech Republic. Our goal is to maintain our variety of interactive exhibitions, and produce quality scientific shows, workshops and lectures. We aim to be the leader in science communication in the Czech Republic, promoting science and technology as well as we possibly can.


 



The team from Techmania have created 27 hands-on exhibits for the new Space area


Glenn Smith Managing director Sky-Skan Europe, planetarium designer/installer

 

Glenn Smith
 

How long did the project take?
From the initial public tender for the project, it’s taken around two years. Sky-Skan took over when the main contractor delivered the finished building to our specification in July 2013. Then we installed the dome, Definiti®3D projection system, and other technology.

Early on in the project, we worked with the client to develop the right technical spec and content as part of a ‘no obligation’ inquiry for proposals and design enquiries. Nine months before opening we also provided a production system complete with a mini dome and fish-eye projector, so that Techmania staff could get used to the technology and workings of the planetarium before opening day. This is an option that we always offer our clients.

Is it your first planetarium project in the Czech Republic?
We also upgraded the Prague Planetarium to digital in 2009 . It’s one of the largest in Europe. The Techmania project is the country’s first 3D Planetarium.

What technology has been installed?
We’ve installed a passive 3D system using two sets of dual Sony SRX Series cinema projectors at a 4K resolution. This means that if you draw a line anywhere across the meridian of the 14m-diameter dome, the screen will always be 4,000 pixels

There’s also a 5.1 surround sound system using JBL speakers, and a wireless infrared headphone system so the facility can show the films simultaneously in two other foreign languages alongside the Czech language. Sky-Skan CoveEX LED lighting is installed at the base of the dome, which washes it with special effect colours. Skeie from Norway supplied the seating.

Did you provide content?
Our system is delivered with a vast amount of content already on it, and we also have a distribution department for pre-rendered shows and movies with over 200 titles available. For this project, the client also wanted two ready-to-go shows available in the Czech language.

What were the challenges of the project?
The dome is tilted 15 degrees, which gives viewers a more immersive experience but presents its own challenges regarding the seating. Seats had to be rigged on a tilted, stepped floor, to allow the focal point of viewers to be in different places – for example, high on the dome when a show is on or down front-centre when there’s a lecture or concert.

We devised a great seating plan with Skeie, and the end result is a very comfortable viewing experience. Visitors simply use their body to move their seat – when they want it to tilt, it tilts, and it’s easy to hold in any position. As the seat only moves in the space it occupies, it’s not necessary to have large gaps between seat rows.

What, in your view, is next for the world of planetariums?
We’ve been delivering planetarium projects with around 8K resolution in recent years, even including one in 3D. These have over 30 million pixels on the dome, which gives a stunningly real effect. It’s approaching the limit of the human eye, as there are really no discernable pixels anymore.

The price has been prohibitive in the past, but we’re seeing the cost gradually come down as the technology allows us to do more with less equipment.


Growth of Techmania

The Techmania Science Center in Plzen covers an area of approximately 30,000sq m. The site occupies a number of restored historic buildings on the former premises of the SKODA car company, creating a new urban leisure space close to Plzen’s city centre.

The development of Techmania has been in stages, with the exhibition space expanding from 3000sq m in late 2008 up to 10,000sq m by June 2014. The Techmania Science Center 3D Planetarium opened in November 2013 and is housed in a unique historic building dating back to 1917.

Plzen is one of the larger cities in the Czech Republic and is famed as the home of Pilsner Urquell beer. The city has been undergoing a renaissance in recent years and in 2015 it will be the European Capital of Culture alongside Mons in Belgium.

 



Techmania and the new planetarium are on the site of a former SKODA factory
The Science on a Sphere exhibit is housed in a mini-theatre within the planetarium site
Techmania aims to offer interactivity, fun and great education
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Planetariums
Science in the sky

The new planetarium at the Techmania Science Center in Plzen is the first 3D planetarium to be built in the Czech Republic. We find out more about the project and how it will enhance the science attraction’s offer

By Julie Cramer | Published in Attractions Management 2014 issue 1



Vlastimil Volák CEO Techmania Science Center

 

Vlastimil Volák
 

Why did you decide to build a new planetarium?
We wanted to come up with new ideas to help popularise science and extend Techmania’s more informal tools of education. So we decided to create a very special planetarium – the first 3D Planetarium in the Czech Republic.

How much has been invested in the project?
When reconstruction of additional areas of the science centre as a whole is finished in June 2014, overall investment in the project will be about CZK 600m (US$30m, £18.1m, E22m). European funding for the building and equipment of our 3D Planetarium was around CZK 140m (US$6.9m, £4.2m, E5m).

What benefits will the new planetarium bring to Techmania?
With the help of the 3D Planetarium, we can extend the offer of popular science for our visitors. Physics, astrophysics, chemistry, mathematics, as well as biology, geography and geology are now the wonderful fields of knowledge we’re able to communicate to visitors. We can also focus on attracting more visitors. In the first month of opening, over 10,000 visitors came to the new attraction.

What are its unique features?
There are three main features. Firstly, the 2D and 3D full dome projections offer a great variety of educational movies. Secondly, the Science On a Sphere technology in its own separate mini-theatre [where projections are made onto a suspended globe] enables original ways of presenting scientific as well as wider educational issues.

Finally, the Space exhibition, containing 27 interactive exhibits made by the Techmania team, guides visitors around the elements of space and its exploration. With all these features, our main aim was to offer interactivity, fun and great educational value.

What shows will you be offering?
There are both 2D and 3D movies – some of them we purchased and others we’ve made ourselves. The ‘Heaven above Plzen’, for example, is a show explaining the constellation of stars in the sky in different seasons. We also have the Gyroscope Show, which explains G-force and disorientation in orbit. We’re open seven days in a week, and all the show and movies we offer run on a daily basis. 

How many visitors do you expect to attract to the new planetarium each year?
In March, there will be newer parts of the science centre open, so we hope and believe we’ll finish 2014 with around 200,000 satisfied, entertained and well-educated visitors.

What kind of tickets and prices do you offer?
We offer full price, reduced price, group and family tickets. You can visit the Space exhibition and the Science On a Sphere show separately, or just go to see the 2D and 3D programmes. There are variations for all the target groups that Techmania attracts.

What are your future plans at Techmania?
The future is clear: we want to become an integral part of informal education for schools and the public in the Czech Republic. Our goal is to maintain our variety of interactive exhibitions, and produce quality scientific shows, workshops and lectures. We aim to be the leader in science communication in the Czech Republic, promoting science and technology as well as we possibly can.


 



The team from Techmania have created 27 hands-on exhibits for the new Space area


Glenn Smith Managing director Sky-Skan Europe, planetarium designer/installer

 

Glenn Smith
 

How long did the project take?
From the initial public tender for the project, it’s taken around two years. Sky-Skan took over when the main contractor delivered the finished building to our specification in July 2013. Then we installed the dome, Definiti®3D projection system, and other technology.

Early on in the project, we worked with the client to develop the right technical spec and content as part of a ‘no obligation’ inquiry for proposals and design enquiries. Nine months before opening we also provided a production system complete with a mini dome and fish-eye projector, so that Techmania staff could get used to the technology and workings of the planetarium before opening day. This is an option that we always offer our clients.

Is it your first planetarium project in the Czech Republic?
We also upgraded the Prague Planetarium to digital in 2009 . It’s one of the largest in Europe. The Techmania project is the country’s first 3D Planetarium.

What technology has been installed?
We’ve installed a passive 3D system using two sets of dual Sony SRX Series cinema projectors at a 4K resolution. This means that if you draw a line anywhere across the meridian of the 14m-diameter dome, the screen will always be 4,000 pixels

There’s also a 5.1 surround sound system using JBL speakers, and a wireless infrared headphone system so the facility can show the films simultaneously in two other foreign languages alongside the Czech language. Sky-Skan CoveEX LED lighting is installed at the base of the dome, which washes it with special effect colours. Skeie from Norway supplied the seating.

Did you provide content?
Our system is delivered with a vast amount of content already on it, and we also have a distribution department for pre-rendered shows and movies with over 200 titles available. For this project, the client also wanted two ready-to-go shows available in the Czech language.

What were the challenges of the project?
The dome is tilted 15 degrees, which gives viewers a more immersive experience but presents its own challenges regarding the seating. Seats had to be rigged on a tilted, stepped floor, to allow the focal point of viewers to be in different places – for example, high on the dome when a show is on or down front-centre when there’s a lecture or concert.

We devised a great seating plan with Skeie, and the end result is a very comfortable viewing experience. Visitors simply use their body to move their seat – when they want it to tilt, it tilts, and it’s easy to hold in any position. As the seat only moves in the space it occupies, it’s not necessary to have large gaps between seat rows.

What, in your view, is next for the world of planetariums?
We’ve been delivering planetarium projects with around 8K resolution in recent years, even including one in 3D. These have over 30 million pixels on the dome, which gives a stunningly real effect. It’s approaching the limit of the human eye, as there are really no discernable pixels anymore.

The price has been prohibitive in the past, but we’re seeing the cost gradually come down as the technology allows us to do more with less equipment.


Growth of Techmania

The Techmania Science Center in Plzen covers an area of approximately 30,000sq m. The site occupies a number of restored historic buildings on the former premises of the SKODA car company, creating a new urban leisure space close to Plzen’s city centre.

The development of Techmania has been in stages, with the exhibition space expanding from 3000sq m in late 2008 up to 10,000sq m by June 2014. The Techmania Science Center 3D Planetarium opened in November 2013 and is housed in a unique historic building dating back to 1917.

Plzen is one of the larger cities in the Czech Republic and is famed as the home of Pilsner Urquell beer. The city has been undergoing a renaissance in recent years and in 2015 it will be the European Capital of Culture alongside Mons in Belgium.

 



Techmania and the new planetarium are on the site of a former SKODA factory
The Science on a Sphere exhibit is housed in a mini-theatre within the planetarium site
Techmania aims to offer interactivity, fun and great education
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2019

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