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1319Non-Astro Dome - National Museum of the American Indian and others

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  • Mark Matthews
    Mar 6, 2007
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      My colleague Barrie Paveley and I (both now working as consultants at Visual
      Acuity in the UK) were both deeply involved in the design and delivery of
      the display and systems at Smithsonian.

      The show was produced and delivered by Batwin and Robin Productions, Inc.
      and we were asked to overcome the many technology challenges.


      The building was already in construction at the time we were involved and it
      was very challenging trying to back-fit the technologies into spaces that
      were not designed to house the equipment. The fulldome display system is
      housed in the central box with the four fabric screens around the edge. This
      had to have HVAC and all other services fed into it too.

      The film shot by Batwin and Robin was digitized into dome masters and edited
      using software developed by Adam Neale and Ian MacPherson, now at 7thSense.
      The media servers were also designed by them specifically for this project.

      There were considerable challenges with getting luminance values right based
      on projection angles. The flat screens are basically to tell the story and
      the dome is to create the ambience behind the story. The rock is a rear
      projected system with a projector and mirror under the floor and can become
      a campfire or chunk of ice or stone to suit the story line.

      We are finding an increasing interest in immersive technologies from
      Cultural Heritage sites as this is a good way to transport audiences into a
      historic environment and recreate the atmosphere of the time and place. A
      recently opened Cultural Heritage site using fulldome stereoscopic imagery
      is at the Foundation of the Hellenic World in Athens, Greece, which Acuity
      has worked on for four years.


      Another interesting project is at the International Centre for Life in
      Newcastle, UK, where the focus is all about the conditions required to
      support life. The dome transports kids to extreme environments on Earth and
      then looks at Europa, Titan and Mars for similar environments and then pans
      back from the Milky Way and asks kids if they think there could be life in
      other places. This offers some overlap with astronomy.

      Mark Matthews
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