The New Digital Planetarium of the Eugenides Foundation has been fully adapted to the latest developments in audiovisual shows and high technology, balancing digital technology with modern analog film projection . Thanks to the large format film projection system installed by SimEx-Iwerks and Cinema Development Company (CDC), the large-budget, major international IMAXTM and OMNIMAXTM film productions can be shown in Greece. This system can project 15/70 format films (70mm and 15 sprocket holes per frame) with an image surface 10 times that shown in conventional cinemas in Greece.
These films transport viewers to areas of our planet and beyond in a much more realistic way than has ever been possible . That is largely due to the clarity and brightness of the image and the vast size of the hemispherical screen that gives viewers the illusion they are there in person. Thus, these films function as substitute-explorers for viewers, taking them to the edge of a volcanic crater in Hawaii, to the top of Mt. Everest, diving off the Australian coast, or for a walk in space and on the Moon.
Because of the variety of the new optical projection systems it features, the New Digital Planetarium can present its own productions as well. The electromechanical Zeiss star projector of the old Planetarium, remaining now as a museum piece, has been replaced in the New Digital Planetarium by two state-of-the-art digital star projection systems: DigitalSkyTM by Sky-Skan Inc and DigistarTM by Evans and Sutherland .
These new systems are able to project tens of thousands of stars as they appear from any point on the planet, from our solar system or from any other star hundreds of light years away from Earth. Navigating in this space takes just seconds, creating the illusion for viewers that they are being transported in a space-time machine on three-dimensional journeys to the interior of our galaxy and beyond to the entire universe of 100 billion galaxies.
Also used in the production of multi-spectacles is the Digital Multimedia SystemTM, an extensive series of digital video, slide and DVD projection systems. Furthermore, a special control unit (the SS Interactive ControlsTM) has been installed on each theatre seat to facilitate viewers' interactive communication in the various productions-shows. This system enables viewers to determine the progress of the presentation by leading it in various directions, depending on their personal interests, so that no interactive show is exactly the same as previous ones.
An additional laser projection system (the Krypton Laser Projection SystemTM by Laser Fantasy International), which has been designed especially for the creation of graphic representations of astronomical and lighting effects, also assists in the production of presentations comparable to the major multi-spectacles presented worldwide in recent years. All projection systems are fully guided by the SPICE AutomationTM system, allowing all sections of a show to be programmed in advance . SPICE also controls the SS 6.1 Digital Surround Sound SystemTM, a new 40,000W seven-channel digital sound system , which can transmit the music and narration of the shows through 44 special speakers.
With these new systems, the New Digital Planetarium shows are transformed into complex theatre productions engaging the audiences and stimulating their senses. Visitors leave the theatre enthralled by their participation in a festival of the senses without realising that they have acquired new knowledge as a result of this experience. Indeed, a good presentation is not one that resorts to lectures or monologues, but one that moves and excites viewers. This change of approach is essential, as modern viewers, having been exposed to similar types of changes in other means of communication, are very demanding in the way that scientific topics are presented.