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Standards Discussion, Etc.

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  • Ryan Wyatt
    I have moved a few things around on my Museum web site. If you d like to look at one of the two pages devoted to fulldome standards, it s easiest to go
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 5, 2003
      I have moved a few things around on my Museum web site. If you'd
      like to look at one of the two pages devoted to fulldome standards,
      it's easiest to go through my main page:

      http://research.amnh.org/users/wyatt/

      Click on the links under "Planetarium Community."

      "Fulldome Standards Discussion, 2002 October" collects my notes from
      the conversation we had in Houston last October; "Fulldome Standards
      Presentation, 2000 October" annotates an outline of the talk I gave
      (also in Houston) on the same topic two years previous.

      Comments on both these documents are warmly welcomed. Discussion of
      standards crops up every so often, but we've languished in terms of
      taking action to elevate discussions to the next level. Where do we
      go from here...? At MAPS next month, some subset of us will have
      another opportunity to talk, so perhaps we can come up with a plan
      there. In the meantime...

      Well, in the meantime, it's Saturday, and I'm going to enjoy a
      pleasantly rainy afternoon in New York.

      Cheers!


      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
    • Tom Casey
      On a related issue for fulldome standards, I thought I would update the list on the current status of attempting to convince at least one software developer
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 7, 2003
        On a related issue for fulldome standards, I thought I would update
        the list on the current status of attempting to convince at least one
        software developer (Maya- Alias/Wavefront) to commit to creating a
        standard camera toggle to render out 3D scenes in the polar
        projection we end up stitching for masters.

        Going back over 15 years with this company, I have a close
        relationship with people in many of the various areas of R&D,
        software code, marketing, etc. I have addressed the need at all
        these levels. There has been some specific "rewriting" of code
        through the various releases to eliminate some problems that we
        encounter during the stitching process, and any new tools that they
        are presently creating are being developed without taking the
        shortcuts (ignoring outside a particular rendered frame) that will
        not stitch seamlessly.

        They have also been helpful with assisting us in creating some
        specific tools to "workaround" similar problems when stitching.
        Since so many tools that are written are simplified by treating the
        view frame as a 2D field, a good deal of the quick creation
        possibilities are unusable in fulldome format (this is true across
        all the 3D applications, but most noticeable in Maya's Paint Effects
        toolset which has enormous astronomical imagery potential).

        Two issues are key to the development of a future camera that would
        greatly reduce the workflow in generating fulldome masters. The
        first is simply the need to create fast rendering... the reason why
        they choose to ignore "outside a rendered frame" when creating new
        features. This is not going to go away, but may become less of an
        issue as CPU speed increases. The second is more simple and is
        really the overall determining factor... is there a market for the
        new feature and how many seats of the software will they be able to
        sell because of its existence.

        Since we have always used this company's software, I am obviously
        biased in its favor over the other tools out there, but appreciate
        the need for animators to use tools they are familiar and most
        comfortable with. It has been difficult to convince the marketing
        folks at Alias/Wavefront that the limited number of fulldome sites
        currently out there and a confidence that users of competing tools
        might switch to Maya, represent a market for them... at least enough
        of a market to warrant some further R&D in our direction.

        The current release of Maya is 4.5 and there are some interesting new
        tools that at least are multi-camera stitchable... and I am hoping to
        be able to convince them that the fulldome market has potential
        before the next couple of upgrades. I would be interested in some
        input on what tools are currently being used to produce 3D content...
        number of users, future needs, etc. to aid in presenting the issue
        further to Alias/Wavefront.

        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
        ...................................................................................
      • Brad Thompson
        Hi Tom, I m attempting again to have this reply go to the fulldome mailing list, but my attempts at responses so far have, for some reason unknown to me, been
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 7, 2003
          Hi Tom,

          I'm attempting again to have this reply go to the fulldome mailing list,
          but my attempts at responses so far have, for some reason unknown
          to me, been unsuccessful up 'till now.

          It's good to hear that someone is working the Maya side since that is
          indeed a powerful tool and now that it's price has come down so
          drastically, it may be of interested to more full-dome producers.
          In my experience it seems that 3dsMax is by far the most used
          tool for this type of production. Because of this, we've been in contact
          with just about every developer working on a 3rd party renderer for
          3dsMax.

          Some of these developers are also planning on Maya versions of their
          rendering engines in the future. As of now, every one of them has
          committed to "at least" direct fisheye lens rendering capability. One of
          the biggest problems with full-dome production is the render time
          required to render such large sequences. A render farm is required
          to be efficient, but having to pay a per-CPU or per-node license fee for
          a 3rd party rendering engine can be a killer. We've been working with
          one particular developer who doesn't subscribe to the per-cpu licensing
          scheme, and who's renderer seems to be one of the best out there, to
          ensure that an efficient full-dome rendering pipeline is possible with
          the commercial version of their tool. This won't be a Spitz product like
          ImmersaMax was, but will be part of their commercial off the shelf
          rendering package available to anyone.

          Perhaps if the Maya marketing team knew of Max's penetration into
          this market, they'd be more interested in offering a competing solution?
          Maybe you could convince a few of them to attend course #25 "Computer
          Graphics for Large Scale Immersive Theaters" at Siggraph this year
          to help them get an overview of all the problems that we have to deal
          with. I believe that Maya's built in render is a scanline type renderer,
          so you'll probably always have to render multiple views and stitch
          them together if you take that route, but eliminating the problems that
          cause stitching artifacts is a great start.

          I believe that Mental Ray, being a raytracer, may offer Maya a way
          to render more directly to the full-dome format. The ability to use
          alternate camera lens models is desirable to many more than those
          within our little dome community. Alternate camera models would also
          be useful to anyone attempting to match output with real camera's or
          anyone doing ride films. I've also discovered that people doing
          architectural design desire the ability to render with more than
          simple perspective cameras.

          Good luck and keep us informed!


          Brad Thompson - bthompson@...
          Animation & Design - Spitz, Inc.
        • Tom Casey
          I appreciate Brad s point of view as a 3dsMax user and understand the comfort level issues as well as price concerns. Our attempt at pushing the
          Message 4 of 4 , Apr 7, 2003
            I appreciate Brad's point of view as a 3dsMax user and understand the
            comfort level issues as well as price concerns. Our attempt at
            pushing the Alias/Wavefront folks to add a camera toggle into Maya is
            mainly because of the amazing toolsets they are adding to the package
            with each upgrade... tools that are aimed at the very competitive
            motion picture market... tools that would allow incredibly complex
            imagery to be created very quickly for all fulldome users.

            As one example, the Paint Effects module is amazing... I have created
            astonishing star clusters and nebula scenes in a few minutes that
            would otherwise require days of work using particle or textured
            approaches. Only problem is it will not stitch seamlessly in its
            present code without lots of workarounds.

            The issue goes deeper than just the camera viewport... all the new
            wiz tools being developed for motion picture production take
            advantage of unique on-the-side rendering or post compositing... in
            other words, it is built in to the tool, not the camera view
            rendering... something that the normal user cannot take advantage of
            without a technical staff to write code. They are tied into the end
            result going to a flat frame render. There may be a workaround path
            here at Home Run or other larger production sites, but in order for
            the fulldome content market to expand, there needs to be a more
            turnkey setup... one directly aimed at fulldome production.

            Let's face it, the planetarium world needs easy and inexpensive ways
            to generate exciting fulldome imagery if it is to grow... so that
            good storytelling becomes the competitive point... not the
            technology... technology gets old or is replaced, storytelling will
            always be around.

            Your choice of production tools is not in question here. Our goal is
            to push the Maya folks to create an animation toolset so we all can
            get to the storytelling in glorious fulldome much faster and
            consistently.

            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
            ...................................................................................
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