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1311Re: Show length

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  • david
    Feb 6, 2007
      > At the Lodestar all our shows are about 45 minutes in length. Our
      > live shows run exactly that length and our push-button shows usually
      > run as double features. It works well because we have a "dyna-max"
      > theater in the same building and their shows are about 45 min. as
      > well.

      Let me add a little to Jon's post. (Jon, btw is an amazing University of
      New Mexico media arts undergrad and L* interpreter/presenter. Beyond
      exceptional dome presentations, he's been making some wonderful montages
      and other mediated programs for our exhibit and pre-show areas. Nice
      having young talent working with us and getting involved in the fulldome
      community.) Anyhootie:

      As Jon pointed out, we run our shows on an hour turn, so show duration
      is about 45-minutes. Show schedule includes three live 'star' shows
      based in DigitalSky (utilizing the power of DS2 in all shows since
      10.06) and four presentations of a 'feature' show based in a fulldome
      playback lease (e.g. E&S's "Wonders", AMNH's "Search", NASM/Sky-Skan's
      "Infinity Express," Nanotoon/RPI's "Molecularium" and DMNH's "Black
      Holes:Other Side" currently.) The feature show normally run for a full
      year (principally due to the cost and availability of distributed shows,
      but that's another post another time.)

      Until the latest show changeover in November, we collaboratively and
      locally produced a fulldome prologue to the ~23-minute feature show (six
      shows since '01) to localize and extend the visitor experience. We did
      this for several reasons:

      1. We wanted to continue the planetarium tradition of community-based,
      live presentations--and importantly, differentiate from the IMAX/Iwerks
      LFT experience. Here we were looking for the best of both worlds:
      Audience interaction with knowledgeable presenter while having the
      immersive cinematic experience as well; both exploiting the power of
      fulldome, each portion with its own strengths. We also believed in the
      professional development this afforded our presenters and gave us a pick
      into the future of realtime in the dome for standing public

      2. We've been building our local community of fulldome producers and
      the shorter, live presented prologues offered opportunity to involve
      many , keep costs exactly where we need them (read as nil), give us (L*
      and other producers) audience feedback on approaches and techniques,
      give producers an audience and screen-time (ego), provide community
      service (values), and portfolio items (professional growth). These
      fulldome prologues ran the experimental gamut of a VR-ish (wireframes,
      animated graphical information overlays) orrery by Hue Walker et at at
      UNM's ARTS Lab which presented used to introduce the solar system before
      E&S's "New Horizons" , to a series of immersive virtual toys
      (ViewMaster, Bug's Eye View--picture a ViewMaster flying into the dome
      and cover the collective eyes of the audience, then a run thru the
      easily updated wheel of images) to extend NASM's "Infinity Express" with
      very current updates of IE's topics, to Dr. Carl Diegert's 'ultimate
      home movie by a national lab scientist" (read as smart good-hearted
      people with incredible tools) for "Molecularium" in which he took
      audiences on a tour of Sandia National Labs as he kept halving and
      imaging a penny in a sort of powers-of-two story as he tried to get to a
      single copper molecule in the obsolete currency unit. (That one had it's
      own soundtrack by Carl so it was push & play, but also unmistakably
      local and fun. Shot entirely in HD via camera and microscope; augmented
      with motion graphics and produced with Sky-Skan's AE plug-in. Crazy fun
      with a chunk of copper...)

      3. The third reason for prolog development and show length we've
      instituted --following well behind LodeStar's values and development--is
      financial or at least price positioning. We're unique in competing with
      an 8/70 Iwerks theater. That LFT, run by another agency co-located in
      the same building/institution, keeps the money they bring in through the
      gate while we keep LodeStar's. So there's no greater good. I wanted
      our dome programs to be equally priced and valued so we kept our ticket
      prices equal to the "DynaTheater" and kept our visitor experiences
      equal--at minimum equal. In retrospect, the better fulldome shows
      running at ~23-minutes alone had more value than most of the (limited by
      8/70 format) LFT offerings running 40-minutes at the same price. But
      we're here to serve, support and grow both our visitors and UNM/art/sci
      communities, so I stand pat by the decision.

      I stand pat and proudly on these decisions, but I should note I did
      attempt to move to a half-hour show schedule to include two live shows
      in DS2 and two feature (leased/produced) playback shows. I proposed
      this to increase show offerings and hopefully gate revenue, diversify
      programmatic topics, accommodate visitors' specific interests, and focus
      our production and presentation resources to specific areas. What I
      proposed was to create two very focused live 'star' shows in DS2 (one
      'Moon & Planets" and one "Stars & Beyond" shows to start, each beginning
      with the night's sky) and offer two playback shows, an "A" show running
      and marketed more frequently than a "B" show, based on the slight
      increase in the quality and quantity of shows being produced here and
      through the fulldome community.

      That plan was vetoed by our titular partners in this state/private/UNM
      shared institution, the non-UNMers crying unfair competition. So right
      now we've focused on the live DS2 shows as 45-minute live show which is
      giving us time to train staff and explore the insane breadth of
      programming opportunities. For the playback show, we're offering a
      double-feature to ease operations and focus on distributable show
      productions while keeping most of our standards for our visitors--a 40+
      minute experience that frankly blows the LFT away (if only we had the
      marketing to communicate it sufficiently). So we're running a
      double-feature of "Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity" with our
      version of "Wonders of the Universe" with our locally produced
      soundtrack which received huge numbers and acclaim when we first ran it
      in 2001.

      Sorry for the sloppy tome, but thought some might be interested. Long
      story short: the ~23-minute prerendered show has great flexibility and
      is a good standard in many ways. However, domes resting on
      push-and-play are missing two-thirds the fun and power of fulldome as
      well as a giant part of its tradition and its future as realtime keeps


      david beining
      1801 Mountain Road, NW
      Albuquerque, New Mexico 87104
      505.362.2614 (cel)
      www.domefest.org (news soon!)
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