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Re: Content providers

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  • Mark Webb
    It s ironic that someone had to bring up slide projectors in order to get the discussion going. I think everyone s comments so far have been good. I would like
    Message 1 of 16 , Mar 27, 2003
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      It's ironic that someone had to bring up slide
      projectors in order to get the discussion going.

      I think everyone's comments so far have been good.

      I would like to propose that a fulldome show with
      sections that are multi-media is not a fulldome show.
      It is, instead, a multi-media show with fulldome
      sequences in it. New theaters that have been created
      for the purpose of presenting fulldome are likely to
      have limited capability (to varying degrees) for
      reproducing the non-fulldome content. It would be a
      little embarassing to say that you can't run a
      fulldome show because you don't have enough slide
      projectors.

      On the other hand, Infinity Express, and
      demonstrations of various systems, have shown us that
      most of our old tricks can be imported to the new
      medium, and usually improved in the process. My guess
      is that if Carolyn, or anyone, made the decision to
      market a hybrid media show as "fulldome" then they
      would in the end wind up making some concession toward
      translating the multi-media content into dome masters.

      This is an intriguing idea. It meets the production
      constraints that Carolyn spoke of while keeping the
      compatibility advantages of fulldome intact. In
      essence you would be distributing a piece of all sky
      artwork. The user would need a utility that would take
      the single frame and copy it with sequential frame
      numbers. (Would you want to slice the single frame and
      then copy, or copy and then slice up the duplicated
      master frames?) This would make the hybrid show truly
      fit within a stricter definition of fulldome.

      Perhaps such a utility already exists. (Kevin?)


      =====
      Mark Webb
      Theaters Manager
      Adler Planetarium
      Chicago, Il.
    • Carolyn Sumners
      Hello all Sometimes I need to speak more clearly. I m thrilled to say good-bye to slide projectors - something that both the D3 and SkySkan s Digital Sky allow
      Message 2 of 16 , Mar 27, 2003
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        Hello all

        Sometimes I need to speak more clearly. I'm thrilled to say good-bye to
        slide projectors - something that both the D3 and SkySkan's Digital Sky
        allow us to do. But, there is still a reason to have 2D segments within a 3D
        product. "Slide" collages, especially of historical images and videos, can
        be zoomed in and positioned anywhere on the dome and placed on top of
        full-dome "wall paper". This is not a volumetrically rendered scene, but is
        very effective and can be produced at a fraction of the volumetric
        rendering. These "multi-media" scenes allow us to set up a full dome piece
        so that audiences can understand what they are about the experience. We have
        done this in the full-dome "Force Five" show, for instance.

        If an old theater has lots of slide projectors and an all-sky, this effect
        can be produced with these projectors. However, the "multi-media" effect can
        be created with D3 and Digital Sky.

        What we are experimenting with in Houston is outputting the collage created
        in Digital Sky to high resolution dome masters that can be shared with other
        theaters in playback mode.

        So our final product is a continuous sequence of dome masters, but only
        about half of this sequence is real volumetric rendering (3D Studio, Light
        Wave, etc.)

        This is the form of "multi-media" I was recommending -- recognizing that 2D
        imagery artistically collaged and manipulated, including video windows - say
        in a space ship window - can work effectively and make a significant
        difference in our rendering costs.

        Back to you gang.

        Carolyn
      • J. Scott Miller
        ... Oh, I don t know. I have done it and gotten positive feedback from those who turned in written responses - noone mentioned jarring or out-of-context
        Message 3 of 16 , Mar 28, 2003
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          >===== Original Message From "Mark C. Petersen" <mark@...> =====
          >If so, this is actually the same point LNP has tried to make when
          >people want to insert video (standard one-screen video) clips into
          >some of our slide-based planetarium shows. Since the show's
          >provided images are static (because they're slide-based), throwing
          >in a shot or two of video motion would be visually jarring -- very
          >out-of-context with the style of visual choreography we've conceived.
          >Certainly there wouldn't be moving music to accompany the
          >dynamism created by animated images.

          Oh, I don't know. I have done it and gotten positive feedback from those
          who turned in written responses - noone mentioned "jarring" or
          "out-of-context" that I recall. Really depends on how it is done or
          what is shown.

          J. Scott Miller, Program Coordinator Scott.Miller@...
          Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium
          University of Louisville
          http://www.louisville.edu/planetarium
        • Tom Casey
          Hi all... I have been reading the thread about the multi-media approach and thought I would toss in an angle of my own. Even though Home Run s content has
          Message 4 of 16 , Mar 28, 2003
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            Hi all...

            I have been reading the thread about the multi-media approach and
            thought I would toss in an angle of my own. Even though Home Run's
            content has been heavy on 3D rendering, we have always been using 2D
            techniques and most are barely perceptible in the overall sequences
            when creatively intermixed with the general 3D stuff we do.

            Some things are just too complex to effectively render out to
            all-dome in true volume spacial context, but are desirable for scene
            creation. It is much easier to create some elements in normal video
            aspects and then "map" onto planes in the standard all-dome camera
            renders. The trick is to create the "maps" with a certain
            dimensional flare that completely fools the viewer into believing
            they are seeing in true 3 dimensional quality... and combined with
            the technical knowledge of how to constrain the planes so they do not
            give away their 2D reality is a very efficient way to produce
            dramatic sequences for the dome. In reality, it's what we are doing
            anyway, by fooling the audience into believing they are not looking
            at the surface of a dome anyway.

            As to how those 2D elements are created really doesn't matter... with
            a 3D program, from a slide or video sequence, from some other
            application that does something it does very well... they all can be
            effectively used if you do it right... and that's the key... doing it
            right.

            I would say that this is just an extension of how things have been
            done for years in planetarium shows. Combining the various
            capabilities to produce the desired storytelling. In fact, I would
            go further and say that a complete show's concept should call for the
            proper use of any of the tools available to the planetarium as a norm
            and not be restrained to any one technique.

            Tom
            --

            ...................................................................................
            H o m e R u n P i c t u r e s

            Tom Casey
            President and Creative Director
            100 First Avenue, Suite 450
            Pittsburgh, PA 15222
            412-391-8200
            412-391-1772 -fax
            mailto:tom@...
            http://www.hrpictures.com
            ...................................................................................
          • Tom Casey
            I like Ryan s comment of keeping it 3D... yes, and it s because it s our primary tools here at Home Run Pictures... but I thought I would add one more thought
            Message 5 of 16 , Mar 28, 2003
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              Re: Multi-Media Interludes
              I like Ryan's comment of keeping it 3D... yes, and it's because it's our primary tools here at Home Run Pictures... but I thought I would add one more thought to the pacing concerns.

              When we were producing "Microcosm," we were stuck with the need to create a film-style-like edit because of the storytelling we were doing... this meant lots of cuts to different camera views.  Besides the technical problems we had to overcome to create some of the human body scenes in all-dome format there were the visual flow issues.  Necessary to tell a story without losing the audience.

              The dome is an amazing environment, but the challenges of creating for the format are many... when telling a story, traditional film-making rules do not always apply. All the rules about not crossing the 180 line with the next view, moving from left to right, etc. are entirely different.  To effectively tell a story in a way that audiences have learned from their experience with motion pictures and television, it is now necessary to address the audience's frameless "free" viewing of the scene and come up with ways to direct their view to communicate important storyline events. And the dome must not be treated like a circle shaped viewport or the potential of the immersive environment is lost... and the dramatic view becomes tiresome to the eye.

              So even if you stick with all 3D all the time, there are the same issues Ryan has mentioned if you want to keep your audiences awake and not confused.  So as I mentioned in the previous post, it's great to employ all the different tools in some fashion, but getting it to work together is prime, even if you stick to one tool it can be difficult.

              Tom


              --
              ......................................... >..........................................
              H o m e   R u n   P i c t u r e s

              Tom Casey
              President and Creative Director
              100 First Avenue, Suite 450
              Pittsburgh, PA 15222
              412-391-8200
              412-391-1772 -fax
              mailto:tom@...
              http://www.hrpictures.com
              ......................................... >..........................................


            • dbeining@nmmnh.state.nm.us
              ... If he hasn t already Ryan will no doubt add his voice to this thread, but let me jump back into the fray from my simplistic storytelling POV. I see (and
              Message 6 of 16 , Mar 28, 2003
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                In fulldome@yahoogroups.com, "Mark C. Petersen" wrote:

                > At 08:13 AM 3/27/2003, Ryan ruminated:

                > >The problem with multi-media interludes is that they can seriously
                > >disrupt the continuity of that experience, creating aesthetic and
                > >cognitive challenges for the viewer.

                > Ryan, is your point that 2D still frame images or even conventional
                > planetarium all-skies and pans "pale in comparison" when put up
                > against/with 3D 30fps fulldome animation scenes *in the same
                > program*? You could well be right -- I just want to understand your
                > position.

                If he hasn't already Ryan will no doubt add his voice to this thread, but
                let me jump back into the fray from my simplistic storytelling POV. I see
                (and entirely agree with) Ryan's point that mixing design schemata
                within a show can, if one's not careful and purposeful, detract viewers
                from their 'suspension of disbelief.'

                If you can suffer my taxonomy of fulldome experiences a bit more, it's
                an issue of how the audience perceives the experience; or for the
                facility/hardware-minded crowd, how viewers see the dome/theater.
                For example, taking an audience from a 'time-space machine'
                experience to a 'canvas' experience is asking them to believe they're
                'really out there' first (no dome/theater exists), then asking them
                to return to the theater for the second experience (place yourself
                within this images/vision.) If you're not careful working within multiple
                schemata, you produce a 'where the hell are they taking me?' response
                in audiences.

                What intrigues me about IE is that is largely succeeds in moving
                between styles in what I describe as a 'journey through space and
                mind.' The show's story is about intellect/science (the question-info-
                knowledge feedback loop) and the objects associated and it uses
                the schemata--with the sounds--accordingly and with transitions other
                than cross fades. The viewer can understand why she's seeing what
                she is and can be comfortable with where the story is headed.
                [Sky-Skan/NASM, I'll stop my IE deconstruction/interpretation
                now--before the libel suits start flying!]

                Suspension of disbelief, as far as I can see, is also intimately related
                to production values and media employed. The classic example is
                the starfield; we want the finest possible depiction in order to help
                viewers believe they're under a real night sky so they can glean as
                much enjoyment and learning from the experience as possible.
                A dome with a few fuzzy dim stars limits the illusion/experience.

                Similarly, Rose's impossibly stunning Orion scene wouldn't steal
                viewers' breath if seen as a framed image covering a portion of the
                dome. Pretty, yes. But the image's edges would impair the illusion;
                audiences wouldn't entirely forget they're in a theater. Conversely,
                flying an audience through a fulldome/frameless nebula that looks
                like something from 'Tron' isn't going to suspend their disbelief.
                (That's the case even if you do tell them-like too many shows
                do--that it's a beautiful nebula they're seeing, but that's another
                conversation...)

                My point is that we (or at least the L* team) need to produce within
                abilities and with design schemata (and the related animation/rendering
                techniques) that carry/support the story we ready to tell--and with the
                production values that our audiences deserve. (From my experience,
                audiences instantly demand excellence from fulldome; once they see the
                medium they understand the potential and want it served in generous
                portions.) Of course, that goal holds for whatever medium one is
                employing, but the immaturity and costs of fulldome make it paramount.

                For what it's worth,
                d

                David Beining
                Director
                LodeStar Astronomy Center
                1801 Mountain Road, NW
                Albuquerque, NM 87104

                505.841.5985 (vox)
                505.841.5999 (fax)
                505.362.2614 (cel)

                dbeining@...
                www.lodestar.unm.edu
              • Brad Thompson
                Hello all, In response to the 2-D vs. 3-D discussion going on here, I think we may be getting a bit hung up on vocabulary. In my mind, it s not the
                Message 7 of 16 , Mar 28, 2003
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                  Hello all,

                  In response to the 2-D vs. 3-D discussion going on here, I think
                  we may be getting a bit hung up on vocabulary. In my mind, it's not
                  the technicality of whether you used 2D techniques or 3D techniques
                  or both to create your frames that creates a "jarring" impact on
                  the viewer (we use both techniques in every single scene we produce
                  here), the risk comes from breaking visual continuity.

                  I know a lot of planetarians shutter whenever anyone tries to draw a
                  comparison between a hollywood movie and a planetarium production
                  but I'm going to do it anyway. Imagine you went to your local multiplex
                  on a sunday afternoon to see __insert name of interesting film here__.
                  You're happily sitting in the dark theater really being drawn in by the grainy
                  35mm film flickering away in front you and wondering just how mr. lead
                  film hero is going to escape the clutches of the evil mastermind this time,
                  when suddenly and for no good reason, the remainder of the film is
                  presented to you in the form of an animated cartoon. Maybe the film
                  makers ran out of money to pay the actors mid way through the film and
                  decided that animation was cheaper, but this isn't explained. The point is
                  that you were ejected from the film-reality that was established in the
                  beginning. You were drawn in and immersed in the story and then ejected
                  when an unexplained visual shift occured.

                  Full-dome video, by it's very nature, creates an immersive environment
                  and lends itself best to content that emphasizes that strength. There are
                  lots of ways to break the reality of the environment that you establish in
                  the dome, whether that reality is 2.5D, 3D, or abstract. I agree with Brain
                  that hard cuts are one of those ways. So is non-purposeful or non
                  meaningful mixing of visual styles. I believe that mixing media CAN be
                  done effectively, but it's much easier to do badly by simply not paying
                  careful attention to art direction.

                  Also, this is nit-picking and I understand this this isn't a discussion list
                  only for 3D computer graphics artists, but to 3d guys like myself, the term
                  "volumetric rendering" has a very specific meaning that is very different
                  from how I've seen it used here. If you hired a 3D animator and told him
                  that you want your animation volumetrically rendered, you'd likely be
                  waiting a long loooong for your frames to come back from the render
                  farm. ;-)

                  It's nice to see some discussion on production aesthetics here!

                  Brad Thompson - bthompson@...
                  Digital Animation and Design - Spitz, Inc.
                • Todd Slisher
                  Just to put in a comment from a dome that doesn t (YET) have a full dome video system. We ve effectively taken Carolyn s Night of the Titanic program which
                  Message 8 of 16 , Mar 29, 2003
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                    Just to put in a comment from a dome that doesn't (YET) have
                    a full dome video system. We've effectively taken Carolyn's "Night
                    of the Titanic" program which contains some full dome sequences
                    and rendered out the dome master images for our dissolving
                    all sky pairs as crossfading stills. This has been very effective
                    for this type of program which does mix 'fulldome' all sky sequences
                    with other still and video imagery. We also did some pretty effective
                    work with using all sky 'frames' for square video formats, putting
                    items in windows within an all sky image. In this show, which has
                    a lot of historical content, we used some literal picture frames.
                    Although not full dome video, this has been very effective for our
                    audiences and just reiterates the point that mixed media can be
                    very effective IF DONE RIGHT! Jump cuts and hard cuts are
                    something to be avoided no matter what the media. There should
                    always be an effective transition between scenes, 3D - 2D,
                    Video - Still or any other transition, but if this transition is done well,
                    I see no problem with mixing full dome and other media.

                    In fact, audience reaction this Planetarium show is knocking the
                    socks off our IMAX Titanica show, which could tangentially be
                    considered a fully 'full dome' show as it takes place in our IMAX Dome
                    theatre. (As you might guess, we have the Titanic Artifact exhibit right
                    now). Audiences prefer the Planetarium show to the multi-million
                    dollar produced IMAX movie. (It probably doesn't hurt that this
                    certainly isn't the best IMAX film every made...)

                    Just my $0.02

                    Todd

                    Todd K. Slisher
                    Director of Theaters
                    Detroit Science Center
                    5020 John R Street
                    Detroit, MI 48202
                    Tslisher@...
                  • Aaron McEuen
                    Folks, I want to comment on volumetrics, editing and Hollywood. The Secret of the Cardboard Rocket (SCR) is now complete. In this show, we have designed cut
                    Message 9 of 16 , Mar 30, 2003
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                      Folks,
                      I want to comment on volumetrics, editing and Hollywood.

                      The Secret of the Cardboard Rocket (SCR) is now complete. In
                      this show, we have designed cut edits, dissolves and wipes etc. So far,
                      not a single person has ever made a negative comment about them. In
                      fact many comments have come our way about how well they have
                      worked, much to our surprise. We felt it was a risk for us to take this
                      approach for many of the same concerns that have been mentioned
                      on this discussion(s). But we went with it and are pleased with the
                      results.

                      I find it funny that people shy away from volumetrics. I even
                      have to laugh at the folks on Newtek's listerv when they complain that
                      a 640x480 frame has taken 12 hours to render. Obviously, there is no
                      profit in that. We have built into SCR 5 major scenes at about 30-45
                      seconds each with volumetrics. We build them at 2200x2200. Many
                      of these have been re-rendered a couple of times. The rocket has
                      volumetric thrust throughout the show.

                      I find volumetrics a necessary evil. Volumetrics are useful, if
                      done right. I also think they are necessary in order to accomplish a
                      very important feel and look.

                      As for Hollywood, I really can't wait for this community to get
                      a listen to our new soundtrack. It is currently under production at
                      Skywalker Sound. The first tests have been heard and the reaction is
                      very positive. There is a totally different sound, much like anyone
                      would here at the movies. Our rocket has been graced with the sounds of
                      Buzz Lightyear's rocket pack, the helicopter sounds from AI and not to
                      mention effects that you would here in a 'Star Wars' space movie.
                      Although we know that planets don't 'Hummmm' in space, it sure adds to
                      the experience that I think our customers are after.

                      May I remind everyone that the Western Alliance Conference is
                      being held at the Clark Planetarium this October. Keep an eye out at
                      www.rmpadomes.org for all the latest. The web page isn't up yet. We are
                      opening in 1 week so give us a little bit. The hotel is selected. The
                      rooms are under $100. All the events are located in downtown SLC. We
                      look forward to you being our guests.

                      Aaron McEuen
                      Producer/Lead Animator
                      Clark Planetarium
                      SLC, UT 801 456-4934 (This number is different from my last)
                    • Michael V. Magee
                      I would like to thank everyone who responded to my inquiry about fulldome content providers several weeks ago. I had many replies both on and off list and they
                      Message 10 of 16 , Apr 7, 2003
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                        I would like to thank everyone who responded to my inquiry about
                        fulldome content providers several weeks ago. I had many replies both
                        on and off list and they were all very useful. A number of people
                        wanted to get copies of my compiled list of content providers once I
                        get it together and I intend to do that. I had not planned to post it
                        to the Fulldome list so if anyone else is interested please drop me a
                        note and I will add you to my list to receive "the list".

                        Right now I am in the process of clarifying some of the information I
                        received and filling in some of the blanks for vendor systems and the
                        appropriate credits for each piece of content. I had originally
                        planned to create only a list of providers but I have expanded the
                        list to include vendor name, system(s) they provide, content, and
                        format(s) (fulldome, partial dome, panoramic, etc.). I have not
                        included contact information at this point but I may choose to do
                        that before the list is done. I may also include some pricing
                        information but that seems to be somewhat more of a variable than can
                        easily fit on this type of list. I'm using an Excel spreadsheet to
                        keep it all organized and readable.

                        Thanks again for all the help.

                        Michael Magee

                        Michael V. Magee
                        Planetarium Director
                        Flandrau Science Center
                        1601 E. University Blvd
                        University of Arizona
                        Tucson, AZ 85721

                        Voice: (520) 621-3645
                        FAX: (520) 621-8451
                        email: mvmagee@...
                        http://www.flandrau.org/
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