The digital cinema playback system at the museum’s Wortham Giant Screen Theater features a Qube XP-I server paired with two Qube Xi 4K IMBs installed in two Barco DP4K-32B projectors. Using a single DCP, the system is capable of streaming up to 1,000 Mbps of data through a dual Gigabit Ethernet interface, sufficient throughput to support dual 4K projectors at up to 30 fps, an industry first.
“Giant screen theaters have been anticipating 4K 3D for years. We’re very pleased to have partnered with Qube to finally make it happen,” says Derek Threinen, vice president, business development at D3D Cinema, which designed and integrated the new theater system. “The Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the most prestigious giant screen venues in the world. To see full 4K content on the giant screen at HMNS is an important milestone for the industry.”
“We decided a while back that we wanted to upgrade from 70 mm film to digital 3D,” adds Charlotte Brohi, VP giant screen operations and film production at the museum. “When we saw a demonstration of the Qube technology in January, we knew we had found the way to do it. We showed our first 4K 3D digital movie on Feb. 19.
“We wanted to give our audience the image quality they were used to with 70 mm film,” Brohi continues. “With the Qube Cinema 4K 3D system, not only are the images picture-perfect, but they’re steadier. And the artifacts we used to get from the wear and tear on film are gone. The quality exceeds that of 70 mm film. Our projectionists love it because it’s so much easier to operate. Our techs used to have to haul 200-lb film reels up several flights of stairs to get them to the projection room — and then they had to load them onto the platters in our tight booth. We only had enough space for three 3D films at a time. It was a logistical challenge if we wanted to bring in a new film for a special event.”
With the new system, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is currently showing four different digital 3D movies: Space Junk 3D, Tornado Alley 3D, Flying Monsters 3D and Ultimate Wave 3D.
Established over a century ago, the Houston Museum of Natural Science hosts over two million visitors per year. HMNS opened its movie theatre in 1989 and the theater was converted to 3D in 2006.