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RE: Multi-Media Interludes

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  • 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 1 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

      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 2 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 3 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 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 4 of 16 , Mar 30, 2003
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            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 5 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@...
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