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Repost of First Post

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  • Ryan Wyatt
    I allowed the tenth anniversary of the Fulldome Mailing List (on 21 September) to pass by without comment. But if it s not too late, I d like to take the
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2010
      I allowed the tenth anniversary of the Fulldome Mailing List (on 21
      September) to pass by without comment. But if it's not too late, I'd
      like to take the presumptuous step of reposting my very first message
      to the list. In reviewing what I wrote, I'm torn: I can either feel
      depressed about how little has changed in ten years (cf. the line that
      "we're all using technology that's in various versions of beta"), or I
      can feel remarkably prescient in describing the topics that seem to
      have remained compelling after a decade.

      One thing has certainly changed: the initial message went out to 43
      recipients, but we currently have 881 subscribers. Yeah, some of
      those email addresses bounce, but still, we sure have grown.

      Anyway, here goes...


      I thought I would outline a few of the topics I see the group
      addressing, perhaps with the net effect of inspiring a few more people
      to post their thoughts...

      1. Technology
      When you get right down to it, the nuts and bolts of fulldome systems
      have a very real effect on all our lives. Although I despise having
      had to learn about CRT projectors, video compression, and the like, I
      also know that it helps me understand the system more intimately and
      use it more effectively. Since there aren't many of us out there, and
      we're all using technology that's in various versions of beta, we need
      to share stories, ideas, problems, and successes.

      I see this covering everything from computer animation packages to
      laser video projection technology to playback systems. There's a lot
      to discuss.

      2. Aesthetics
      I see several challenges in this arena. We are dealing with extremely
      powerful technology here in terms of the impact it can have on an
      audience. To maximize the impact, we need to think about what actually
      takes place from the viewer's perspective. We'd all better be thinking
      about the visual quality of our product... So what are we thinking.
      and how are our audiences responding?

      I'm particularly interested in audience responses to different events
      on the dome. How do people react when an object explodes in front of
      them? Off to the side? How 'bout if a spacecraft flies in from behind
      the audience? Slowly? Quickly? Do audiences require a certain reaction
      time to enjoy an effect or do they refer being blind-sided? Is anyone
      surveying audiences on these topics?

      There's a technological component to this area, too, however: for
      example, all fulldome systems in use right now (that I know of) use
      multiple CRT projectors and some kind of edge-blending (software or
      hardware). Yet I've never heard much discussion of gammas or color
      spaces that minimize the appearance of seams on the dome. Maybe the
      solution lies in the edge-blending technology, certainly in the choice
      of imagery, and probably in some combination of the two.

      3. Programmatic Concerns
      Most of us are using our systems to educate. Most of us also need to
      sell tickets to survive. We need to share thoughts on what works and
      what doesn't in terms of content, marketing, and finances.

      I know Carolyn Sumners has presented a few papers on the effect that
      fulldome video has had on attendance and income at the Houston Museum
      of Natural Science. Sharing that kind of data helps the rest of us
      assess what we can do to help support our institutions and our programs.

      Other questions... How do you advertise your fulldome system? How do
      you plan to pay from programming? Does your institution plan to
      develop imagery, models, and/or sequences for the technology?

      4. Bootstrapping
      Okay, not all of "us" are the "we" and the "us" to whom I've been
      referring above. So, for those who are thinking of investing in
      fulldome video, or for those who've signed contracts... What's on your
      mind? What concerns do you have making the leap into this new
      technology? And how can those of us "in the biz" help out?

      5. Philosophy
      Always one of *my* favorite topics. Is fulldome technology another
      tool in the planetarium arsenal or is it a paradigm shift in domed
      theaters? Neither? Or is it both? Perhaps we're transitioning from one
      to the other... What does the digital quality of the medium mean for
      institutions using it? When we buy a program from another facility,
      should we insist upon the right to tailor it to our own? In a
      postmodern era, should we resolutely maintain the integrity of the
      product we create, or should we allow others to modify the content as
      they see fit?


      Comments welcome!

      Ryan Wyatt, Director
      Morrison Planetarium and Science Visualization
      California Academy of Sciences
      55 Music Concourse Drive
      San Francisco, CA 94118
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