Reach for the stars
Qvest orchestrates integration of high-tech AV systems in Europe's most modern planetarium in Halle, Germany
Europe's most modern planetarium has opened in Halle (Saale). The new building in a former gasometer has state-of-the-art technical equipment that makes every visit an unforgettable experience.
As project partner, Qvest orchestrated the integration of various high-tech AV systems in the planetarium and the associated observatory. In addition, the Qvest team was also able to contribute its expertise to the planning, delivery and installation of an immersive sound system and the full-dome video production suite.
From storing gas to storing knowledge
The new construction of the planetarium has become necessary after the original astronomical facility, which was known far beyond the city and state borders, was severely damaged during the 2013 flood and had to be demolished. Within the historic walls of a former gasometer, a unique place in Europe has now been created for astronomy enthusiasts – equipped with a state-of-the-art dome projection and an observatory above the building's roof terrace. Its main instrument is primarily used to observe the evening and night sky.
"Hall of stars" with full-dome projection system
The heart of the planetarium is the "Hall of stars". It offers space for more than 100 people who during the shows look at a projection dome with a diameter of twelve meters. In the center of the room is an optomechanical projector that displays the stars as realistically as if you were looking up at the real starry sky in a 360° perspective.
In addition, there is the digital full-dome projection system and an impressive sound system. This means that there are virtually no limits to the possibilities for creating audiovisual worlds of experience.
Since March 2023, visitors to the planetarium have been able to embark on a breathtaking expedition into the world of astronomy – from stellar supernovae to spiral galaxies and special constellations of the night sky to a simulated 3D cosmos.
We are very proud to have Europe's most technically sophisticated 'stargate' here in Halle. The planetarium is a unique venue at the interface of astronomical knowledge transfer and cultural experience. That's why we look forward to offering all visitors – whether children, families or adults – engaging experiences that are sure to inspire the next generation of scientists and star travelers.
The challenge: Integration of three full-fledged planetarium systems
All this is made possible not least by a projection system consisting of three individual components from the manufacturers Zeiss, Evans & Sutherland (E&S) and VIOSO. The technically challenging task for Qvest: to integrate each of these three full-fledged planetarium systems into a common environment and set them up so that the systems from E&S and VIOSO can be synchronized with the LED projectors from Zeiss and other components of the multimedia system.
The perfect interaction of star projector, digital and real-time systems now makes it possible to project virtual landscapes into the dome and combine them with data from the real-time systems – such as live streams from the observatory or current recordings of a space event.
Halle Planetarium is an impressive and unique project that has required the precise orchestration of various multimedia technology components. The success of this challenging and fascinating system integration illustrates how we can bring our media technology expertise to other industries and installation projects.
Qvest also specified and installed the sound system for Halle Planetarium. It is the largest of its kind in a European planetarium: 48 speakers are mounted in the projection dome and connected via an audio router from Stagetec. They create an incredible immersive sound experience of the multimedia shows.
These are planned, programmed and produced by the planetarium team in a production studio – the "command center" – also located in the former gasometer. Here, Qvest installed an Avid Pro Tools MTRX audio interface with HDX and an Avid S6 console for production and control of the ambient sound.
"The setup consists of two video workstations with render servers for the imagery as well as the Avid systems and a Genelec 7.4.1 sound system for the 3D audio production. This gives the planetarium staff the ability to recreate the sound experience of the 'Hall of Stars' when producing their own shows," says Jonathan Baker.
"All requirements mastered"
From his point of view, Dirk Schlesier sums up the project result as follows: "Our partners at Qvest have mastered all the specific requirements involved in implementing such high-quality projection and acoustics."
Important suppliers (extract)
- Analog Way
- Evans & Sutherland
- New Audio Technology
- Studt Akustik