The Singapore Omni Theatre at the Science Centre Singapore is an attraction that had been part of many Singaporean's childhood since it first opened in 1977. It was certainly a part of mine when I visited it as part of a Primary School excursion.
On 30 May, the Omni Theatre will open its doors to the public after a huge revamp that on paper, speaks of truly stellar visuals.
The new Omni Theatre uses the world's largest and brightest 8K digital fulldome system on Southeast Asia's largest seamless dome screen to produce new shows to capture the imaginations of Singapore's of today.
"Live" Shows Has Potential
A "Iive" show basically has one presenter that has the ability to guide his audience through the universe using the Omni Theatre with a software called Digistar 5 - a huge library of visual data like planet images and orbits.
In theory, that would be great - one of the best ways to get people, kids especially, excited about the universe. In practice, it is really daunting to achieve. The new "live" show feature demands a lot from the presenter, and at least for my experience during the media interview last night, it falls short.
For such a dynamic tool as the Digistar 5, it will really take an experienced presenter to utilise it fully. Give it time and couple that with a know-how to showcase the wonders of the universe with intriguing storytelling and the "live" shows will be a solid reason to make the trip down to the Omni Theatre worth it.
New Movie Fails To Impress
Apart from the "live" shows, there are also the good ol' IMAX movies. Taking advantage of the new technology is a new digital fulldome movie titled "Back to the Moon for Good" which should be titled "Google Lunar X Prize Commercial".
For 40 minutes, the new movie failed draw in my attention and in my opinion, belongs more to the flat screen at home than at the Omni Theatre.
It showcased briefly our exploration to the moon for the first 10 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of what the Google Lunar X Prize is about and a "touch and go" of what the participating teams are doing.
It may have won awards for the Best Planetarian Choice and Producers Choice in 2014, but it certainly didn't win my attention that night.
But with new content being developed for the Omni Theatre's system through collaborations between Science Centre Singapore and institutions like National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and the Hayden Planetarium, I remain hopeful that this aspect will improve.
Not That Stellar
I walked into the new Omni Theatre expecting the incredible graphics that makes me feel like I am really floating in space. With features like 8K resolution and the world's biggest and brightest, it is an assumption anyone would have made.
However, the 8K resolution simply isn't enough for a screen that big. Animations were mushy and sometimes even laggy. I might have forgiven this 10 years ago. But in 2015, when there are movies like Gravity and Interstellar that showcases the universe in all its beauty, the Omni Theatre really had to step up its game. Sadly, it did not.
Having a big screen that cover your entire field of vision does not matter if the visuals are not crispy clear or to some extent, life-like - think of transformers or the avengers movies.
And so, while the new Omni Theatre had lots of potential, there were many misses. But most of this can be improved with better utilisation of the Omni Theatre's capability.
It may not have captured my imagination the way it did when I was a kid, but I really hope I can come back in a few months time to say otherwise.
Ticket prices for the Digital Fulldome Movie or Fulldome Live Show is $14 per person and $8 per student. Ticket prices for the IMAX Movies are $12 per person and $6 per person.
School can take advantage of this offer where there will be free admission for two teachers with a minimum group size of 20 students.
You can see the showtimes of the Omni Theatre here.