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Re: Multi-Media Interludes

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  • Ryan Wyatt
    ... To have qualified my statement a little more, I should have written, The *potential* problem with multi-media sequences... To my mind, whether the still
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 28, 2003
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      My initial rumination:

      >>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.

      Brought a query from Mark:

      >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

      To have qualified my statement a little more, I should have written,
      "The *potential* problem with multi-media sequences..." To my mind,
      whether the still images "pale in comparison" is more an issue of how
      they're integrated into the flow of the program.

      Juxtaposing still-moving-still sequences, IMO, invites problems.
      Back when I programmed in a more traditional planetarium environment,
      I became enamored of slewed video images because they allowed for
      continuous motion in the scene, even if the video was a still image.
      I could then decelerate the still image into position, cross fade it
      into a slide, whatever. (Effectively like using a zoom-slew slide

      As I said before, the domed environment at its best transports the
      viewer to another place -- acting as the "space-time machine" that
      David Beining described. One must take great care of the viewer
      during the transitions (a reason I detest hard cuts in the dome, BTW,
      'cuz those of us who watch this stuff all the time have become inured
      to instantaneous transport between virtual spaces, whereas many
      audience members have not). And the abruptness of a multi-media
      interlude, particularly as I have seen them practiced, is what I
      think "can seriously disrupt the continuity of that experience,
      creating aesthetic and cognitive challenges for the viewer."

      If I were programming multi-media segments into a fulldome show
      (considering the definitions *not* to be exclusive), I would use the
      same tricks that television producers have used for decades --
      pan-and-scan and zoom -- as well as screens that exist in 3D space,
      floating toward the viewer and preserving a sense of continuity.

      One example that comes to mind is the elegantly composed sequence
      from "Infinity Express" during which flat Mars Surveyor images fade
      in and out in front of a structured mesh of faint lines. The still
      images glide toward the viewer and float upward in the space,
      maintaining a constant sense of motion within a vast space. A very
      pleasing use of the fulldome environment that didn't rely on 3D
      rendering per se: obviously, it's 3D, but it's "cheap" 3D in the
      sense that it doesn't involve complex volumetric rendering or
      ray-tracing work. From my perspective, that sequence succeeds nicely
      and would fit in beautifully between 3D scenes.

      >Pacing, flow, continuity -- they all have to blend together. Having
      >vibrant visual imagery fly past you while the soundtrack is pastoral
      >(or the other way around) doesn't make for an effective presentation.

      Well, it depends how quickly one is flying -- and I would describe it
      as the viewer flying through the space, rather than the imagery
      flying at the viewer. While I like to think of 3D as "wow," it can
      take on many tones of "wowness," from the thrilling to the delightful
      to the sublime.

      >Now, certainly one wouldn't want a roller coaster of
      >wow-snore-wow-snore jolts during a show. Is this what 2D-3D-2D-3D
      >does, do you think?

      The key word here is "jolt." If the transition(s) can be made
      smoothly and effectively, then 2D-3D-2D-1D-3D doesn't matter. It's
      an issue of storytelling constrained by technology.

      To offer a distinct example... We ran into a similar problem with
      the use of interactive technology at the Dorrance Planetarium in
      Phoenix. When giving the audience a chance to vote on something,
      many shows would simply grind to a halt (images would freeze or blink
      out, soundtracks would click off), much pushing of buttons would take
      place, and then everything would start up again. You could
      practically hear the flywheels spinning up. Christine Shupla, Mike
      George, and I worked on smoothing the transitions so the audience
      experienced little or no "jolt" that would disrupt the flow of the

      With all that said, I think there are didactic reasons why
      maintaining the continuity of a 3D space makes sense. I outlined
      those in my first message. Costs aside, I'd say keep things 3D.

      Ryan, a.k.a.
      Ryan Wyatt, Science Visualizer
      Rose Center for Earth & Space
      American Museum of Natural History
      79th Street & Central Park West
      New York, NY 10024
      212.313.7903 vox
      212.313.7868 fax
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