Hutchinson The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center has gone digital in an effort to save money and improve the clarity of its movies.
The center’s theater changed from IMAX film to digital projections run on 4K resolution, which is the highest resolution on a single projector. The projection upgrade is part of a nearly $300,000 renovation at the Carey Digital Dome Theater that includes 114 new chairs, new carpeting and a new concession stand.
The projection change is expected to save the Cosmosphere $100,000 a year, The Hutchinson News reported.
Chief projectionist Brian Shull said test runs of films showed the new projector improved the sharpness and clarity of the movies.
The Carey Digital Dome Theater is the first to show digital film at a dome theater, said Becky Christner, marketing and public relations manager for the Cosmosphere. A custom lens on the projector fits the dome theater.
The film company, E&E; Theater Services, said there has been a lot of interest in setting up digital dome theaters, Shull said. The next similar theater will open within a month in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“The company even has interest from out of the country,” he said.
Instead of hauling 250-pound reels of film for 45-minute documentaries, projectionists just have to start the film, which is loaded into a computer from a two-pound cartridge.
Digital technology also allows the Cosmosphere to show Hollywood movies, which were rarely put onto IMAX film. But for now the center will continue showing only documentaries.
“It’s been a learning curve to find out what works best,” Shull said. “There are good things to come.”
The Cosmosphere began showing digital films Friday.