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Re: Clark Planetarium Productions Moving to 60 Frames Per Second

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  • dsm_clark
    Hello FullDome, I thought I would throw in more from the production side and some of the thought process we went through when considering a move to 60 fps. I
    Message 1 of 19 , May 16, 2011
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      Hello FullDome,

      I thought I would throw in more from the production side and some of the thought process we went through when considering a move to 60 fps. I think it will help to give some more back-story to it, so that facilities can decide if it's a good move for them.

      Some have mentioned the doubling the render time. For us, the time spent creating assets that are ready to render at 4k can consume a lot of time because you want the detail to match the final resolution. The time spent to bring the assets to 6k or even 8k is substantially higher. Often times real data is not available at that high of resolution so it becomes a matter of generating the extra complexity to mask the low resolution. Then comes the extra time to render. The amount of time it takes to render doesn't scale up in a linear fashion, it's very much exponential. Throw in a ray-trace for reflections or refractions and that exponential curve becomes FAR more daunting. The doubling of render time, compared to an 8x or 20x in render times, without consideration for the asset preparation time, seemed like an acceptable time cost.

      It was pointed out that in low motion scenes, it may not make a lot of sense to render 60fps. The return for rendering 60, regardless of motion, certainly goes down. We did note thought that even in lower motion scenes, the 60 fps version showed more detail and better ability to track motion. The sheer scale of the dome environment makes a constant 60 fps worthwhile for us. In a smaller dome, switching from 30 fps for low motion and 60 for higher motion, may be the best option.

      Crossing the film vs digital debates with the discussion of 30 vs 60 I feel muddies the concept. So lets make addressing this quick. Film has the added advantage, as compared to digital, of having a non-uniform capturing media. Each frame varies slightly in what it captures, but being a moving media is prone to not being in the exact same spot each time it's exposed. Digital is an imperfect capture solution also. It doesn't capture all the visible gamut, it captures sections. Reverse the direction and you get why the projection is imperfect. Film is prone to motion, digital is prone to not displaying the entire visible spectra. Digital also needs processing at playback time that usually necessitate the video being compressed... this leads us back to the main discussion...

      Compression. The necessary evil. Most systems simply cannot playback uncompressed video. More can playback compressed video at 4:2:2, even more can playback at 4:2:0. Most systems cannot playback 120 fps, more can playback 60 fps (a good majority if their hardware is from the last 3 years), even more can playback at 30 fps. The efficiency of the decode is where the caveat lays. I'm not sure how EVERY system handles the video decode, but most will hand off the decode to a special interpreter (codec) that speaks to the hardware. Sometimes the OS, the projection software or the codec aren't fast enough at this and get in the way of the hardware doing it's job. Sometimes the hardware just isn't up to the task. The most efficient codecs are the newer generation. MPEG-4 (and it's versions like h.264) are being built to use the hardware more efficiently and enjoy the advantage of being in active development. They will only get better and better at taking advantage of the hardware. At the same time hardware is making leaps forward at being better tuned for video. By it's nature, compression robs you of some of the video quality. Still your projectors ability to display a broad range of colors may be more constricted than your compressed video. Compressing video for each system takes on it's own interesting twist... FFMPEG, while very agile and uses the x.264 library to encode VERY quickly, does not natively support planetarium systems and it wouldn't be an easy process to make it do so. More likely is that the system providers, SkySkan, E&S, Global Immersion, etc etc, will start using instructions that take advantage of AVX, QuickSync and OpenCL to make faster compression and better decompression.

      I believe this email is plenty long to make you have to scroll once. My job here is done.

      David Merrell
      Lead Animator
      Clark Planetarium
      (801) 456-4934
    • Schorcht, Volkmar
      Hello FullDomers, our announcement of the special prize of the jury in the category VisuaLiszt contained an error. Nanocam. A trip into biodiversity was made
      Message 2 of 19 , May 17, 2011
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        Hello FullDomers,

        our announcement of the special prize of the jury in the category
        VisuaLiszt contained an error.

        "Nanocam. A trip into biodiversity" was made by Roberto Girón from
        Producciones El Exilio S.L. in Madrid, Spain. Roberto deserves the credits
        for this remarkable fulldome piece awarded with the prize money of 500
        We are sorry for mistaken the names.

        Volkmar Schorcht, for the Festival organizers


        Carl Zeiss AG
        Geschäftsfeld Planetarien / Planetarium Division
        V o l k m a r S c h o r c h t

        Carl-Zeiss-Promenade 10 - 07745 Jena - Germany
        T +49 3641 642283
        F +49 3641 643023

        Carl Zeiss AG
        Vorsitzender des Aufsichtsrates: Dr. Theo Spettmann
        Vorstand: Dr. Michael Kaschke (Vorsitzender),
        Dr. Hermann Gerlinger, Thomas Spitzenpfeil
        Sitz der Gesellschaft: Oberkochen, Deutschland
        Amtsgericht Ulm, HRB 501 555, USt-IdNr: DE 811 119 940

        This message is intended for a particular addressee only and may contain business or company secrets. If you have received this email in error, please contact the sender and delete the message immediately. Any use of this email, including saving, publishing, copying, replication or forwarding of the message or the contents is not permitted.
      • Carolyn Sumners
        Ryan et al. Could you post this email on fulldome? The show is revolutionary in its variety, new approaches, and speed. Plus surely someone is looking for a
        Message 3 of 19 , May 19, 2011
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          Ryan et al.

          Could you post this email on fulldome?
          The show is revolutionary in its variety, new approaches, and speed.
          Plus surely someone is looking for a non-embarrassing 2012 show that can also work in 2013.

          Thanks so much for considering this request. The show is really a whole lot of fun and redefines the energy of a planetarium experience!


          Email Subject: 2012: Mayan Prophecies – “just in time for the apocalypse” ☺

          The Burke Baker planetarium staff was charged by the Museum’s president to create a planetarium show that would be as fast moving and dramatic as a documentary or short film. The resulting 2012: Mayan Prophecies recreates 5 Classic Maya cities, reenacts 10 different astronomy events, features 23 scenes of real ruins shot on location, explores 25 different architectural models, and includes 40 animated segments (with one real apocalypse) for a total of 88 different scenes, plus 10 Maya avatars (4 with speaking parts), 4 ladybug spherical camera adventures, 3 calendar cycles, 2 flying monsters, 1 tasteful human sacrifice, and a Pacal under a Sacred Ceiba Tree -- all in 24 minutes and in 4K resolution.

          We also cover all of the relevant and remotely valid components of the 2012 hype. The show has been reviewed by Dr. Anthony Aveni with production assistance from the curatorial staff of our Hall of the Americas and the Mexican Consulate in Houston.

          Here’s the official description:

          “Visit the Classic Mayan cities of Uxmal, Chichen Itza, Tikal, and Palenque to discover how the Maya aligned their temples to watch their sky gods and used interlocking calendars to record the past and predict the future. Explore pyramids towering above the rainforest, designed as observatories to follow the sun through the seasons. Discover the Maya story of the cosmos drawn on tablets buried in the tomb of a Maya king. Experience the apocalypse of the Maya and discover how our fate in 2012 may be foretold in Mayan Prophecies.”

          The audio comes in 2 versions – for before and during 2012 and for 2013 and beyond. We have also prepared a version without the sacrifice, but we have not received a single complaint about it, even from families with young children. The show is also being translated into Spanish.

          Visit this site to watch the trailer, preview the show, count the scenes, and find Pacal under the tree!


          The show is being distributed by E-planetarium for portable and small single-projector fixed theaters and by Evans & Sutherland for Digistar theaters and for others who can slice their own frames. If you need the show in another "flavor", we can send you frames as well or work with your projection hardware company directly.

          2012: Mayan Prophecies has doubled our planetarium attendance with no radio or television coverage and it’s just 2011. Most significantly: no one has left early or fallen asleep!

          Please watch the show video and email me if you have questions about the show or how we did what we did.


          Dr. Carolyn Sumners
          Vice President for Astronomy and the Physical Sciences
          Houston Museum of Natural Science
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