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Re: Multi-Media Interludes

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  • 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 1 of 16 , Mar 28, 2003
      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.


      ......................................... >..........................................
      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
      412-391-1772 -fax
      ......................................... >..........................................

    • 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 2 of 16 , Mar 28, 2003
        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

        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,

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

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

      • 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 3 of 16 , Mar 28, 2003
          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 4 of 16 , Mar 29, 2003
            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 K. Slisher
            Director of Theaters
            Detroit Science Center
            5020 John R Street
            Detroit, MI 48202
          • 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 5 of 16 , Mar 30, 2003
              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

              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 6 of 16 , Apr 7 11:49 AM
                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@...
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