Reporting Natalie Nyhus
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s the only rotating dome screen in the world, and it’s right here in the Twin Cities.
Since 2002, the Science Museum of Minnesota has been wowing people with its annual Omnifest. Mike Day, the senior vice president of the Science Museum of Minnesota, said the museum wasn’t even sure the film festival would succeed.
“Our plan was we’ll bring it back every other year. Even before we got to that second Omnifest we realized no, this is something we’ll have to do on an annual basis,” said Day.
Now, it’s six weeks long and features five films, all on that giant screen. With 100,000 people expected at this year’s festival, Omnifest is the most popular thing the Science Museum does all year long.
“The thing that’s diff about an Omni film versus a conventional theater is that everything is big,” said Day.
At 10 times the normal film size, the Omnitheater uses the world’s largest format.
“The Omnitheater tells a story like no place else in the world. You’re not just watching the film, you’re sitting inside the film because we have this giant eight-story-high dome screen,” Day said.
The projection room is kept at a balmy 72 degrees with 42 percent relative humidity. That’s to keep the film pliable. The reels are massive at 400 pounds each. That’s because six feet of film accounts for one second of footage.
One of this year’s films, “Search for the Great Sharks,” was produced by the science museum.
“There’s a scene in the search for the sharks where we take a diver and drop him into a plastic tube to the bottom of the ocean floor. What you see are seven great white sharks swimming around that plastic, and they’re trying to figure out if this diver is exposed. It’s one of those thrilling sequences that can only be done in this format,” said Day.
Other films take you in caves, to the Amazon rainforest, the forest and the Antarctic. Some of those films haven’t been shown in decades.
“It’s classic films. It’s films people have been asking us for years to bring back to the Omnitheater, and now they’re here,” Day said.