Fort Worth

‘Beautifica' transforms planetariums into a mesmerizing immersive experience

The film is playing at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and The Sky Theater at the University of North Texas in Denton

Beautifica still color burst

There’s more to see at planetariums in North Texas than stars. Beautifica, a 45-minute film specifically designed for domed venues, combines music and art to create a fantastical sensory event. The film is running throughout the summer at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and The Sky Theater at the University of North Texas in Denton.

Beautifica is from the same team that created Mesmerica, the 2018 immersive film featuring the music of Grammy-nominated composer James Hood.  Like Mesmerica, Beautifica is designed for domed venues and features Hood’s music.

Beautifica trailer

“The vision of Mesmerica was a show around the science of happiness, trying to help people find a sense of peace and calm amidst the fast-paced society that we live in. Beautifica was designed to be more of a celebration of life and nature,” said Michael Daut, the sales director for Beautifica.

Production on Beautifica began in 2019 with the film opening at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in December 2022. The pandemic impacted the film’s creation.

“When the pandemic hit, it made Mesmerica that much more needed than ever before because people got super isolated, super stressed out, the anxiety levels skyrocketed and mental health became a big focus and a big concern so during that time, we refined Beautifica to make it even more powerful and more focused on the celebration of life and how precious that is and wonderful it is to be alive and experience the nature and creation around us,” Daut said.

The creation process of the film began with Hood’s music.

“But then there’s always a push and pull where there may be adjustments that need to be made to the music to accommodate the timing of the visuals and vice versa. So, it’s a bit of an organic dance, but the music is the bedrock of the process,” Daut said.

Two animators make up the core team with artists from around the world contributing to the film.

“It’s really an international consortium of artists that produce the visuals for the show,” Daut said.

Still images are recreated in an animated platform so viewers can fly into those images. Artists have created sequences for specific pieces of the music while other visuals were initially created for other works.

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Artists from around the world contribute to the film.

The domed nature of a planetarium is essential to the experience of Beautifica, with images projected in front, above and behind the audience.

“The real reason is because they have the correct canvas,” Daut said. “It’s sort of like a VR experience without wearing the headset. It really puts you inside the visuals rather than have you look at them through the distance.”

The films have been at nearly 70 planetariums in the United States, along with a couple in Canada and one in New Zealand. The distribution of these films showed how these events activated planetariums, expensive spaces that could be used more.

“Up to 98% of the people that came to Mesmerica and Beautifica have never been to the venues before which is kind of crazy. It’s a great way to build new audiences and attract people into spaces they’ve never been to before and they’re coming back,” Daut said.

The combination of music, art and the domed environment results in a cathartic journey, allowing audiences to experience the vibrancy of an imaginary world.

Beautifica is a very colorful show and there’s a lot of imagery that’s purposefully abstract and non-specific but there are elements you can recognize,” Daut said. “It’s beautifully orchestrated. It has vocals that sit on top of the music in certain aspects of the show. It’s more of choral sound where we use the human voice as an instrument. It’s very haunting, emotive.”

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Beautifica will be playing in Fort Worth and Denton throughout the summer.

Beautifica is an experience for everyone.

“It takes audiences on a personal journey of reflection and seeing and hearing all of these beautiful moments and how they interpret that themselves and what triggers in their psyche as they experience it with an audience,” Daut said. “We are doing a little bit to create some good in the world which is so needed right now.”

Learn more: Beautifica Fort Worth and Beautifica Denton

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