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Jim Manning Weighs in on Standards and IPS

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  • Ryan Wyatt
    Jim s having trouble posting to the listserve, so... Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2003 17:27:44 -0600 To: ryan@ryanwyatt.net From: Jim Manning All:
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 9, 2003
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      Jim's having trouble posting to the listserve, so...


      Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2003 17:27:44 -0600
      To: ryan@...
      From: Jim Manning <manning@...>


      All:

      Regarding Ed Lantz's and Ryan Waytt's and Jack Dunn's
      discussion of standards vis-a-vis IPS involvement . . .

      In no way at all do I speak for IPS, but I've had a lot of
      past experience with IPS, and I think that the best role for
      IPS is one of facilitating the discussion by way of its
      organs of communication and infrastructure.

      It seems to me (and this is solely my opinion--not that of
      any IPS officials) that IPS has been somewhat circumspect
      about establishing official committees with vendor members
      from the standpoint that vendors are also competitors, and
      it could be tricky trying to referee competitors and to
      balance vendor influence to avoid charges that the
      organization favors any vendor or product line over
      another--especially given IPS's need to accommodate
      international perspectives and standards--not just American
      perspectives and standards. My own experience, however, is
      that this has never discouraged (or been meant to
      discourage) vendor input on issues of any sort.

      So go ahead and ask the IPS hierarchy; it may be that IPS
      could help to facilitiate the discussion in appropriate
      ways. In this sense, the creation of a task force designed
      to solicit input from the IPS membership (rather than the
      creation of an official IPS ad hoc committee as if IPS is
      supposed to decide standards for this or any industry) might
      be the best route to take advantage of IPS standing and
      infrastructure in helping the industry to establish
      well-communicated norms of full-dome production, format and
      configuration. I fully agree that any ultimate compilation
      of standards and best practices must come from the industry
      itself (read vendors) with very significant input from its
      potential clientele. Insofar as IPS can assist its
      membership by facilitating such discussion, I think an
      appropriate role can be found. If the idea is to create a
      node or focal point for such discussion and effort, IPS
      sponsorship of such a node or focal point could be a very
      appropriate role.

      Again, I don't speak for IPS, but from my perspective, this
      sort of approach might be the most useful way to involve IPS
      in the discussion--as desired.

      A few other points on another discussion thread that seems
      done for now--but I'll throw in my tardy two cents anyway,
      as a mere observer . . .

      I understood from the first exactly what Carolyn Sumners and
      Mark Petersen and those of like mind were saying in the
      discussion about the usefulness of incorporating still
      imagery and other tried-and-true techniques in full-dome
      productions. As many have pointed out, it does indeed come
      down to not what can be done, but how effectively the story
      can be told.

      Much of what I've seen so far of full-dome presentations has
      been wonderful and dazzling--and effective. But . . .
      although it's all great from a technological and (usually)
      esthetic perspective, not all of it has been uniformly
      effective in telling a story. I can recall sitting through
      one "Lawrence of Arabia" sequence after another (by this I
      mean a constant stream of sweeping vistas with no let-up),
      wondering if it wouldn't be better to keep the audience more
      alert by breaking these up with some good old-fashioned
      multi-media sorts of approaches. Then the technology
      advanced to provide all sorts of multi-media approaches with
      virtual screens doing acrobatics about the dome, showing
      stills and streaming video, etc., and in some cases, I found
      my mind so busy and distracted trying to sort out the visual
      cues that I lost the thread of the narration and what these
      sequences were supposed to support. And I've watched
      similarly distracted audiences thumb buttons and giggle as
      they repeatedly ram some computer-generated craft into the
      side of a virtual cliff, while I wondered if the program had
      become a big video game rather than an enlightening
      experience.

      This is not to criticize, but to offer observations. The
      technology (as a planetarium technology, at least) is still
      new, and I think we're still in the "look Ma--no hands!"
      phase as we play with the new toys in new environments to
      see what they can do. And that's fine. That's exactly what
      I would expect, and that's exactly where we ought to be
      right now. But once we figure out and demonstrate what these
      babies can do, then it's time for the show producers of our
      industry to apply these tools in the most effective and
      appropriate ways to support the messages they want to send.
      And that will also involve storytelling and pacing and
      audience psychology and all the "old" tools people have used
      since we were sitting around those campfires shivering
      against the dark.

      To me, that's the most exciting aspect of the full-dome
      revolution: watching as we get better, as we meld the new
      tools with the old tools to tell our stories in new and
      effective ways, and--as my old friend Bill Gutsch says, make
      the universe as exciting as it really is.

      Keep up the good work, everyone. It's wonderful to see the
      progress you've already made in so short a time!

      Cheers,

      Jim Manning
      4/8/03

      P.S. We also ought to be surveying audiences to assess what
      they're getting out these new full-dome approaches--and if
      it's what we expect or want them to get out of these
      experiences. Perhaps some who may have already started this
      process can share what they've learned so far.



      *********************************************************
      * James G. Manning - Director | /\ MOR | *
      * Taylor Planetarium | / \ /\ | *
      * Museum of the Rockies | / / /\ | *
      * Bozeman, MT 59717 | / / / \ | *
      * manning@... |/____/__/____\| *
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