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1136Re: ...you say 'uni', i say 'omni'...

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  • Peter Frankland
    Sep 23, 2006
      G'day All,

      We have concentric seating in our non tilted dome at the Sir Thomas
      Brisbane Planetarium with 128 seats under a 12.5m dome. The seats are
      arranged with two large sections totalling 96 seats, a smaller section
      with 20 seats and some more running up the side of the console. Each of
      the large sections covers about 120 degrees starting in the North and
      running to either the SW or SE. The 20 seat section goes from South to
      SE and the few beside the console are SSW to SW.

      We also kept our Zeiss Spacemaster when we upgraded so instead of the
      usual 6 projectors we had to go to 8. During a show we level the Zeiss
      horizontally so it gives a minimum dome obstruction.

      Just as Mark has stated in his reply to Erik,

      >>I guess I'm asking - as a newbie, I hasten to add - are flat,
      >>untilted omni-directional an extinct species of fulldome already [snip]

      >Not extinct, yet, but in the minority already, and their numbers
      >continue a downward trend as the majority of newer fulldome theaters
      >are built with front-facing seating.

      We are witnessing this first hand when it comes to deciding on a new
      show. Simply put, they are almost always designed for a unidirectional
      or epicentric theatre arrangement. At the moment we run four digital
      shows in our dome, "The Secret of the Dragon", "Passport to the
      Universe", "The Search for Life: Are We Alone?" and "Infinity Express".
      The two AMNH productions are not a problem for us as our planetarium is
      simply a smaller version of the Hayden. "Infinity Express" was sliced
      for us in such a way that the sweet spot alters throughout the show.
      "The Secret of the Dragon" was kept in its traditional orientation and
      as such, we cannot sell to our full capacity in that we rope off the
      small 20 seat area and console seat area.

      After IPS, my boss and I sat down and mulled over the latest shows on
      offer (not that we actually have any money to get them.). We both liked
      Astronaut but were concerned about its preferred direction. Truth to
      tell, it seems to be a bit of a hybrid show in that some parts are
      suitable for a concentric dome whilst other segments are best for a
      unidirectional dome. I took a still frame from the Astronaut website
      and, using DigitalSky, put it on the dome to get a better idea of what
      it would look like. Taking into consideration the seating style of our
      theatre, the obstructing Zeiss, the length of the show and how much of
      it is positioned to the South, we estimate that we could get away with
      90 patrons (70% capacity) maximum or 70 patrons (55% capacity) preferred
      for that show. Not really ideal for maximum monetary return.

      At one stage we brought in a seating specialist and threw an idea to him
      about SE and SW portions of the two large sections. Could we put them
      on a sort of turntable and have those areas swivel to face the South?
      Oddly enough, he never really got back to us on that matter.

      In the future, when the price of high quality projectors come down, we
      will remove the Zeiss and become fully digital. At that stage I guess
      we will have to very seriously consider adjusting the seating style to
      match fulldome show production (will it be cost effective to do that?)
      and we will have to consider the role of our facility. Will it become
      simply a digital theatre with a funky curved screen? Will astronomy
      start to play second fiddle to other content? Because we are a stand
      alone facility, will that affect us? Or should we reject going fully
      digital and make a decision to stay as a traditional educational
      astronomical planetarium?


      Peter Frankland
      Planetarium Support Officer
      Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium
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