Re: "meaningful media"
- Now Ed Lantz once called me "devil's advocate Tom," and I guess
that's where this post might be heading in regards to what I'm
reading on the list this morning.
All this discussion about fulldome's role/future in regards to IPS
or Siggraph and what is needed to march forward in a "meaningful"
way... Ed mentions that "there is power in numbers." Both IPS and
Siggraph represent numbers, but those numbers have very distinct
differences. Both represent an initial desire to exchange knowledge
of some sort, but the differences are the key. Siggraph is a mix of
education AND that other nasty world, "for profit." Without that
side, Siggraph would probably be the size of IPS.
Having been involved in Siggraph since way back in the early 80's I
can say that although the educational part of Siggraph has always
been there with it's rather open exchange of information, it was the
connection to the "for profit" side that pushed things forward.
Why? Because all things in reality have a cost involved, or should I
say things get done faster/better if there is a profit to be had.
What Siggraph has been able to accomplish is mostly in part due to
the driving force of the "for profit" side, fostering the educational
side's goals, not the other way around. Now some will jump in and
scream foul and other purists will cringe saying we don't want that
for IPS but the truth is fulldome, because of its cost nature, will
struggle until a larger pot of funding can be found. And because
funding now for planetariums/science centers is strongly routed away
from a "for profit" model, IPS may NOT be the best home for any
organization striving to further fulldome.
Now, I'm not saying there should not be a subgroup within IPS where
fulldome capable facilities can exchange whatever makes sense, but
the kind of limitations/concerns I've been hearing discussed on the
list and elsewhere point out this barrier. And any kind of barrier
at this point can mean the difference between future success and
"same old, same old" for fulldome.
Now what this means, I will leave to further discussion, but we have
to recognize this and face its realities. Fulldome has enormous
potential that currently is held captive in the planetarium world
because that is where it was born. You could say it's like a fashion
model working in my little city of Pittsburgh verses one that
ventures off to Paris. You know, the "big fish in the pond verses
the one in the ocean."
I love what fulldome's tools can do to educate and inspire. But,
fulldome has a much higher cost associated with it than what has
typically been maintained in the planetarium world... skirting around
that with words is not going to further fulldome's future.
H o m e R u n P i c t u r e s
President & Creative Director
100 First Avenue - Suite 450
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
- My own feeling is that the evolution of fulldome production and funding
models can (and should) help to advance the professionalism and diversity of
what IPS does. Securing larger budgets and establishing effective
collaborations are a part of the picture, but they are also a matter of
perspective. Museum and planetarium staffs have a long history of finding
ingenious and resourceful ways of producing content - you don't need a
million+ dollars to do a good show. It's about finding good talent and
developing an efficient way to do it right, which leads me to a thought I
want to share about content creation...
When the infusion of slide and special effects projectors exploded into
planetariums in the 60's and 70's, suddenly everyone wanted to be a "show
producer." Unfortunately, most staff at the time (me included) had academic
or technical backgrounds but that didn't stop us from thinking we could
produce great programs. In many cases, we were wrong. Scientific training
did little to teach us good communication skills or the basics of visual and
aural literacy. I only learned because my father was a stage actor/radio
personality and my mother was an artist! And even then I produced a lot of
crap before getting reasonably effective at it.
My point is this: We can learn a lot by opening our doors (and minds) to
other professional organizations and companies that produce similar kinds of
media. I'm not talking about emulating the inefficient Hollywood model, but
pulling some of the fundamental elements of cinematic writing and
visualizing and reshaping them for the dome environment. The planetarium
business needs to be less like a closed door incestuous industry and more
"connected" with the larger media world. IPS has already made some great
strides in that direction by developing closer relationships with NASA, ASP,
AAS and others thanks to the forward-minded efforts of Martin Ratcliffe, Jon
Elvert, and Jim Manning. The leaders of fulldome can do a lot to pull IPS
along in other crucial areas, including those that are not purely
"educational." I believe it can and should be a symbiotic relationship.
For what it's worth,
110 South 400 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101