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4336Re: mind-blowing immersive visual music experiences

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  • Christopher Hudson
    Dec 18, 2013
      Ken, thanks for this. Again, interesting.

      For sure you can use our planetarium as a venue. In fact I'm sure we would do it at cost. As has been mentioned, a new audience would raise the profile of the Centre for Life and help meet our core aim of science communication.

      I'd still be concerned about the business case for a 69 seat theatre, but I appreciate that I'm not the expert there. However, as an organisation we are very professional with our business plan. We have had thirteen years of successfully (I think!) communicating science and supporting biological research without a penny of either local or national government funding. The planetarium has about 90,000 paying visitors a year. That is hard work.

      So yes, wickedly good content properly promoted would probably work! I think you make the point, though, when you suggest that it has to be more than just cool and pretty.

      I'd certainly go the extra mile to facilitate your work here at Life's planetarium.

      But there is a wider issue I tried to raise on how to fund artistically worthwhile fulldome works. I honestly can't see how to make money on arts programmes in our planetarium. Other than by way of grants. I guess that may be true of much of the wider arts world too! That doesn't stop us doing it, but it limits what we can do and saddest of all it prevents us really rewarding the artists as they deserve.

      I also like the analysis of VR. Sounds reasonable. I feel, though, that it will complement the dome experience rather than replace it. There was a lot of debate a decade ago about the death of the cinema as home TV/ DVD started leaping in quality, but the cinemas upped their game and there is still nothing like the *shared* experience of a movie. There is not much of a problem getting friends to talk about and go to see movies in the cinema, both (selected) blockbusters at a multiplex and the more interesting stuff at our local independent. I'd love to be at the point when a new fulldome movie or curation of fulldome shorts was a regular 'must see' social event for more than a niche market.


      Christopher Hudson

      Planetarium Supervisor
      Centre for Life
      Management Suite
      Times Square
      Newcastle upon Tyne
      NE1 4EP

      Tel: +44 191 2438220
      Fax: +44 191 2438201
      Email: Christopher.Hudson@...

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      From: fulldome@yahoogroups.com [mailto:fulldome@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Ken Scott @ Digital Chaotics
      Sent: 18 December 2013 10:16
      To: fulldome@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [fulldome] Re: mind-blowing immersive visual music experiences

      Hi Ed, Christopher H, Dale, Mario, Andy, and Christopher P -

      First, thank you, Ed for your acknowledgements. You are correct: my
      intention is to pick up where Laserium left off - and then to go much,
      much further. A major motivator for me was that I never found Laserium
      to be a mind-blowing immersive visual music experience. Cool and
      pretty? Sure. Visual music? Of course. Immersive? Not
      particularly. Mind-blowing? Not even close. I found myself sitting
      there thinking, "I can do better than this."

      Second, thank you all for taking the time to address this issue. It is
      worth addressing. The title of this thread IS my goal in life, so I
      HAVE to solve this. I don't want to simply "make a living" or survive.
      I want to THRIVE.

      Unfortunately, I believe that the problem with using planetarium domes
      is bigger and runs deeper than simple assertions like "the audience
      doesn't like it", "they're not ready yet", "we can't make money doing
      it", "the idiots at the top don't get it", or "our building's not set up
      for it". They're all excuses. The true statement is "we just don't
      know how to make it work."

      But we do!

      Laserium made it work. They sold over 20M tickets in a 30 year period.
      That's easily over $100M in revenue - probably closer to $200M. I was
      having a similar conversation with Brian Wirthlin a couple of weeks ago,
      and Laserium's success came up. Brian's assertion is that Ivan Dyer, et
      al, succeeded because they took full responsibility for creating their
      success. It makes sense. They did the marketing, the advertising, the
      ticket sales, and handled many of the various vendor relationships
      needed to create a successful destination experience. The planetarium
      was just a theater that they rented. They did NOT rely on the
      Planetarium Managers to do anything beyond normal maintenance.

      Planetarium Manager vs Event promoter. Planetarium vs Entertainment
      Venue. Educator vs Entrepreneur. Oil vs Water. These things simply do
      not mix well, and yet here we are, trying to stir them furiously, hoping
      that they'll blend. With rare exceptions (e.g., Ed, Mario, and a few
      others), the domes are owned and operated by educational institutions
      and foundations, run by/for educators, and operated as classrooms. The
      simple fact is that the people currently running these facilities are
      not set up run an entertainment venue. They don't have the necessary
      business backgrounds or training in business administration or event
      marketing. They simply don't know how to start, grow, operate, and
      sustain a profitable commercial enterprise.

      So there's the rub. To succeed in the planetariums - the places where
      TODAY they actually have the domed screens I need - then I have to (a)
      convince the current owners to let me borrow it on weekends, (b) spend a
      bunch of money up front on advertising, (c) work out the logistics of
      doing a show on their dome, (d) produce wickedly-good content that
      fulfills on the promise to deliver a mind-blowing visual music
      experience, and (e) open the doors, sell tickets, and put on an
      excellent show. Repeat. For now, that's looking like the only choice,
      because there's nothing on the horizon that looks like a viable
      alternative. Like it or not, the plan above is the only proven method.

      I agree that someday there will be "home immersion" mechanism, but it's
      not clear what the ultimate form factor will be, nor is it clear WHEN it
      will occur. If I had to guess (and actually, I DO have to guess) I'd
      say that it will be a head-mounted display, with built-in audio, and a
      hand-gesture-controlled user interface, all for less than $200. It'll
      be like a smaller, lighter Oculus Rift (with a Retina display),
      headphones, and a Leaf Motion style controller. Add a microphone, and
      you have the potential for a completely immersive environment for both
      work and play. Toss in an operating system with a VR-oriented
      "workplace", and the next wave of the Post-PC Era will be in full swing.

      When? Using the trajectories of previous technologies as a guide
      (http://bit.ly/1gFveqi), then roughly we're looking at 5 years to
      achieve 10% market penetration, another 10 years to reach 50%, and
      another 10 years to hit 100%.

      At that point, more than a few people will be thriving.

      I will be one of them.

      Ken Scott
      Digital Chaotics LLC

      Wicked Fulldome Videos: http://bit.ly/17vrvIJ

      Disclaimer - December 18, 2013

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