© Picture Pascal Prieur 2018.
You have never been so close to the stars. After twelve years of loyal service, Toulouse’s Cité de l’Espace has completely renovated its planetarium to offer visitors a remarkable new astronomical experience. The planetarium has become one of Toulouse’s star attractions, but significant technological progress has been made since it first opened in 2005, and it no longer reflected the Space Centre’s innovative character. The three-tube projectors had come to appear old-fashioned, even by the admission of Pascal Prieur, the Centre’s Audiovisual Projects Manager. Not to mention the fact that some of the equipment was no longer supported by the manufacturers in the event of breakdown. An unthinkable situation for a site that attracts more than 300,000 visitors a year who come to discover the marvels of astronomy. The Cité de l’Espace has also just celebrated its 20th anniversary, and so it was undoubtedly time for the planetarium to enter a new era.
Open to the public since July 2017, the new planetarium is now equipped with cutting-edge technology. No less than ten 4K laser projectors have been deployed by the VIDELIO teams to project films onto the 600 m² dome. Thanks to the automatic calibration system developed by RSA Cosmos, the images are superimposed to create an 8K projection system that offers remarkable image quality with 48 million active pixels. By way of comparison, the resolution is 24 times higher than that of a high-definition home cinema.
“In terms of brightness, the quality of white reproduction, the depth of the black and the richness of the colours, this represents a considerable leap forward”, enthuses Pascal Prieur.
In addition to replacing the projectors, the planetarium space has been completely renovated. “Not only have we improved optical quality, we have also improved the sound reproduction, with an 11.2 surround system”, explains Pascal Prieur.
44 speakers have been distributed around the dome to create a totally immersive effect for visitors during their space exploration. And to ensure that the modernization was complete, the Cité de l’Espace has also replaced the seats, installing an interactive system that is currently the only one of its kind. Each of the 288 seats has a remote control in the armrest that allows visitors to interact in real time with the film and to answer quizzes. Would you prefer to fly over the surface of Mars or to explore Saturn's rings? Be an astronaut for the day and take control!
The benefits offered by VIDELIO:
• A single, local partner: the VIDELIO agency in Toulouse not only installed the video and sound equipment, but also took responsibility for managing and coordinating the entire project.
• French expertise: VIDELIO worked in partnership with RSA Cosmos, based in St Etienne; one of the largest planetarium designers in the world, RSA Cosmos has been involved in more than 150 projects.
• Proven experience: VIDELIO has worked on audiovisual projects with the Cité de L’Espace for several years, assisting for example with the renewal of its video wall.
Thanks to this new high-quality infrastructure, the Cité de l’Espace joins the ranks of the top three planetariums in the world, alongside Paris’s Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie and Boston’s Museum of Science, the only other establishments with planetariums that offer an equivalent resolution. This strategic transformation, which was designed, managed and completed in less than five months by VIDELIO, thus repositions Toulouse’s Space Centre as a leader in the field of scientific culture. From 1 to 5 July 2018, the Cité de l’Espace will also be hosting the 25th IPS Conference (International Planetarium Society), and the “Fulldome Festival”, which will present 45 “fulldome” (360°) films. A great opportunity for this new generation planetarium to shine, if not throughout space, then at least on planet Earth!