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6Re: [fulldome] Some initial Full-Dome video thoughts

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  • J. Scott Miller
    Oct 1 7:29 PM
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      Don Davis wrote:
      > Full Dome video is the beginning of the golden age of domed theaters.
      > The ability to readily create an immersive enviornment will probably
      > result in the use of such domed theaters for many presentations unrelated
      > to astronomy so the design of new facilities should be free of the
      > constraints of earlier planetaria.
      > Specifically, since high def video can produce a reasonably good
      > starfield, the electro-mechanical star projectors are becoming outmoded,
      > unless having a starfield of the specific quality these machines can
      > deliver is a high priority. These machines are, in my view, a greater
      > libility than an asset because they deprive the audience of the best seats
      > in the house, those in the center of the dome where the viewing geometry is
      > optimised. Many of these machines also block much of the sky from view in
      > the seats closest to the ideal viewing geometry. No matter how fine the
      > stars projected with such machines appear, all you basically get for this
      > very expensive optical projector is one star field.

      So, what you are saying is that rather than reproduce a star field that shows
      the subtle but vivid colors that stars show in the real sky, one should simply
      settle for a mediocre star field, a star field where stars look like small
      snowballs instead of points of light.

      A better solution would be to keep the star ball but put it on an elevator.
      Remove it when it isn't necessary for programs in which astronomy is not the
      purpose, or even during programs of an astronomy nature in which the stars are
      acting like background anyway.

      > A tilted dome. perhaps 22.5 degrees, with the seats aligned toward the
      > front of the theater seems ideal, but I would remove the seats too far
      > removed from the center, with quality of presentation the goal and not
      > simply quantity of seats.

      Until quality is important to the bean counters and not quantity, I would say
      this is a pipe dream as well.

      > In old Planetarium designs the audiences were asked to accept the cove
      > line as a horizon, despite the resulting perspective of being in a shallow
      > pit. A tilted dome gives the viewer a chance to see an eye level horizon,
      > providing a more natural visual experience. The theme park rides I know of
      > using dome projection are generally highly tilted, so audiences look
      > forward as much as up.

      I been in both and from my own experience, each has advantages in its own use.
      But there are probably few audiences that want to feel like they are looking
      forward when they have come to see the stars. A slight tilt is fine (ours
      will be about 12 to 15 degrees) but I am glad we didn't opt for a dome tilt
      more than that.

      > Although useful as an aquisition medium, the days of film being used in
      > Planetarium projection are passing. I once had high hopes for Omnimax, but
      > the medium was too ungainly and expensive for general use. The better
      > efforts using fisheye film technology should be scanned and shown in
      > digital formats, they may well appear superior to the images projected on
      > film, especially if transferred at 30 FPS.

      Sorry, facts are facts. You don't get the resolution in video projection that
      you get in film. You can kid yourself into believing it, but when all is said
      and done, there is no comparison.

      > Now people can create images filling a dome using affordable home
      > computers and animation software. The days of machine shops under
      > Planetaria custom building projectors for each show are giving way to
      > artists and animators, on site and contracted, using software like Electric
      > Image, Lightwave, and the various Strata and 3D Studio incarnations to fill
      > the dome with digital enviornments.
      > Don Davis

      And all have their place. But none are replacement.

      J. Scott Miller, Program Coordinator Scott.Miller@...
      Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium
      University of Louisville
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