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"Planetarian" Forum

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  • Ryan Wyatt
    Okay, since it s soooo quiet right now, I figured I d try to stimulate some discussion by posting a response that I submitted to the current Planetarian
    Message 1 of 17 , Jan 21, 2001
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      Okay, since it's soooo quiet right now, I figured I'd try to
      stimulate some discussion by posting a response that
      I submitted to the current "Planetarian" Forum.

      The Forum topic was given as follows: "Is there a danger that,
      as entertainment technologies improve, in the long term some
      planetarium domes may be given over to non-astronomical shows
      such as full-dome laser and other eye candy productions, thus
      putting our profession in danger of being eroded?"

      I wrote a response from a fulldome video perspective, so I thought
      it'd be worth sharing with the group. *Please* comment and reply
      to the mailing list. :)

      ===

      First off, technology changes, and it changes the world with it.
      Just as the planetarium field began with a technological innovation
      (the ability to recreate the night sky under a dome in the middle
      of the day), it will continue to evolve hand-in-hand with technology.

      We planetarium professionals cannot see ourselves as victims
      of technology, however; we have to see ourselves as empowered
      by the technology we have access to, and we need to recognize
      the dangers and limitations of technology as applied to our field.

      My interpretation of the question revolves around my experience
      with fulldome video technology, so I will address it from that
      perspective.

      Yes, fulldome video entertainment programs will take place -- some
      under commercial banners, others associated with non-profit educational
      institutions. The opening of Madame Tussaud's in New York has already
      put one for-profit entertainment program out on the market, although it,
      too, has certain educational merit (giving a historical tour of New York
      events over the last fifty or so years). More will come. The medium is
      too effective and too compelling for producers (of all stripes) to ignore.

      But "eye-candy productions" have taken place under planetarium domes
      for decades: how can we see this as any different? Many domed theaters
      already run education programs during the day and entertainment programs
      in the evening, and as long as non-profit educational institutions remain
      cognizant of their mission statements, this should concern planetarians
      no more than the technologies that already exist. Rather than become
      embroiled in a debate over the sanctity of the dome, let's consider a more
      likely source of erosion.

      Will some planetarium domes be given over to non-astronomical shows?
      Not necessarily non-educational, but non-astronomical? Yes. Again,
      the new dome technologies are too compelling to limit (yes, limit) the
      content areas they illustrate to astronomy. Much as large-format films
      address widely-varying topics, fulldome video programs will take on a
      variety of topics -- as real-time image acquisition becomes cheaper,
      programs will also move out of virtual environments and into the real world
      (maybe even showing real starfields), expanding topic areas even further.
      And why shouldn't the domed environment address a variety of topics?

      An institution will require considerable resources -- in terms of money
      or personnel or (best of all) both -- to produce fulldome media of
      appropriate quality. The tools are getting cheaper, admittedly, but
      maintaining a digital production staff will probably prove even more
      challenging than maintaining a traditional production staff. The solution
      will almost certainly lie along the lines explored by large-format filmmakers
      over the last few decades.

      Science center and museum administrators familiar with the large-format
      film production model will find it appealing to apply the model to producing
      fulldome shows. Evand & Sutherland has already jumped into the
      production business with "Wonders of the Universe." Others will follow.

      We already have domed theaters that aren't planetariums -- domed
      theaters with large-format film, domed theaters with interactive systems
      (such as the Exploration Place), domed theaters running entertainment
      programs (such as the aforementioned Madame Tussaud's in New
      York) -- and we will see more and more of them in the coming years.

      My guess is that we will lose some planetariums down this route:
      they will essentially become domed movie theaters, akin to our large-format
      brethren. You could certainly call that erosion.

      But I believe this will be a transition period, at least as far as planetariums
      are concerned. Much as taped multimedia programs make sense for
      certain applications but (thankfully) have not completely displaced live
      programming in most planetariums, fulldome playback programs will
      not alleviate planetarians' interest in producing live, interactive shows.

      I challenge everyone to think a bit further into the future... When fulldome
      video projection becomes cheap and reliable, when CPUs run however
      many times faster than they run today, when inexpensive real-time
      systems will be able to move into even a small dome (perhaps replacing,
      perhaps complementing, the star projector). Small educational domes
      that permit flying through the universe in real-time -- or exploring the
      human body in a classroom environment -- could crop up everywhere,
      planetariums plus, teaching about the night sky and astronomy and
      a host of other topics. Domes that currently sit dormant or underused
      might very well be revitalized by the new technology.

      Does this scenario seem like an erosion of our facilities? I wouldn't call
      it that.


      Ryan Wyatt, Director of Theaters
      LodeStar Astronomy Center
      1801 Mountain Road NW
      Albuquerque, NM 87104
      wyatt@...
    • Schmidt Mickey Civ 50 TS/CC
      In response to the question about fulldome presentations evolving to include non-astronomy presentations. I for one am planning on it. But then, perhaps I m
      Message 2 of 17 , Jan 23, 2001
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        In response to the question about fulldome presentations evolving to include
        "non-astronomy" presentations.

        I for one am planning on it. But then, perhaps I'm in a unique situation,
        but I think not that unique. Since I am associated with a College, albeit
        the USAF Academy, most of our experience is with supporting cadet training
        in academics or military arts & sciences. We have used the facility to
        support as many curriculum areas as possible. Public astonomy and space
        technology support came out of the fact that with a mechanical planetarium
        it was difficult to do much else for the public. As you can imagine military
        programs were not popular during the Viet Nam Era.

        I see the capabilities of the fulldome systems as allowing us (college and
        univsersity affiliated institutions) to become an exciting medium for
        supporting many diverse academic studies. Whether it's a virtual wind tunnel
        for the Aero Department, Virtual tours of historic battle sites to analyse
        the military applications used then, or entering a microscopic niche for
        bacteria, viruses, or seeing inside mechanical or electronic devices or
        watching stars form in a nebula. Bits and pieces of these presentations will
        still educatate and entertaing the public.

        I think NASA and astronomers are discovering enough new information that
        there should be no shortage of astronomical subject matter for those who
        want to remain purists.

        I think this new technology should be used to meet the needs of your funding
        institution. If their mission is to support public education in astronomy
        then that will be your top priority. The rest follows as there is time or
        need.

        Mickey
      • Carolyn Sumners
        Hello Fellow Full-Domers and Full-Domers-to-be Sorry I ve not written to the group sooner - but I got snowed under with staff abandonment: first it was Karen
        Message 3 of 17 , Jan 23, 2001
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          Hello Fellow Full-Domers and Full-Domers-to-be

          Sorry I've not written to the group sooner - but I got snowed under with
          staff abandonment: first it was Karen now in Wisconsin, then Kerry went to
          the Carnegie Natural History museum in Pittsburgh, then Ryan went to Phoenix
          (and other places....) and now Laurel is in Albuquerque. Then Thadd and
          Marcus got stolen by the Johnson Space Center..... ALL IN THE LAST 6 YEARS.

          Tony Butterfield and I are still here and we've added Carl Huffman and
          Nicole Clayton. I'm about to deny that I have any staff and hide them when
          planetariums come for a visit!

          Now for my official comments about the full dome identity debate. With 2
          full years of large format video - and 2 presentations that are totally full
          dome, 3 more that are over 50% full dome, and 4 more that are over 30% full
          dome - we've got lots of experience and one lesson stands out....

          Your public will define you, regardless of what you want to be.

          Unless you have megabucks for advertising, your public will tell you what
          they expect and what they will pay for. They may not know in advance what
          they want, but they know when they like it and when they don't. Thusfar
          we've been most successful with shows that promise the delivery of specific
          content and then live up to the promise in the poster and title. Our
          audiences also still want to learn something - unless it's a laser show -
          then they'll cheerfully put up with no educational value at all.

          Full-dome video has allowed us to do away with daytime lasers (we're still
          discussing rock lasers, but they're not in our budget) and to have a revenue
          positive budget with no revenue generated by laser shows. For some
          institutions, that may be reason enough for buying a full-dome system!

          Given the hypothesis, that our public defines us, what is the most popular
          show we've done. For the last two weeks I've been comparing the last 2
          years, trying to control for time of year, Museum attendance, and other
          factors....and the preliminary winner is

          Wonders of the Universe
          produced by Evans & Sutherland
          directed by Terence Murtagh
          art director: Don Davis

          With no paid advertising and no photographs in local newspapers and very
          little television coverage at its opening, it is doing extremely well for
          the first 3 weeks of January. Yesterday a teacher told me that this is kind
          of show that really makes good use of our domed theater and the best she has
          seen in 5 years (although she has not seen all of our shows).

          The first runner up may be

          Sailing by the Stars
          produced internally with a little help from Aaron McQuen

          This program is half live and half taped and about a third SkyVision. Most
          importantly every visitor makes an astrolabe and really learns how to sail
          by the stars. The popularity of this live product teaches us that it's not
          just the video - it's the full production that the public judges. A live
          person is always more real than any video - and if that person connects with
          the audience, it's probably as good as any video.

          As a note, both of these programs are 22 minutes long and no one is
          complaining about the length.

          If you're curious about what works, I'm working on a more definitive report
          and most of our shows are still stored on our drives. So you can come visit,
          see the program and learn how it faired with the public.

          As far as non-astronomy venues, we are opening Force Five in June. It
          features a hurricane, tornado, volcanic eruption and coronal mass ejection -
          all dramatic and exciting. We'll see how well the public accepts it. We'll
          run it along side Wonders and make comparisons. Stay tuned to see if the
          public buys this content shift.

          We're working on a web site where you can see clips and posters of all this
          research. Meanwhile, it is far more important for everyone to be trying new
          things and measuring their effect on audiences than to be talking about it.

          I urge everyone who is offering new programming to try to figure out why
          popular shows sell well and what's wrong with less popular programming.
          Interview audiences, test kids, let's really find out what our audiences
          think about us and what they think we can do better.

          The IMAX market is still not sure how to make a good film - and that's
          hurting them now. They should have asked the public what they really liked
          in IMAX years ago.

          And we now need to know what people will pay to see and pay to come back for
          in the planetarium.
          >
          More to come

          As busy as ever

          Carolyn
          >
          >
        • danieldonnelly1974
          From a marketing/social research perspective, and I fully appreciate that some may view this as somewhat controversial or simplistic approach, I question
          Message 4 of 17 , Sep 15 10:58 AM
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            From a marketing/social research perspective, and I fully appreciate
            that some may view this as somewhat "controversial" or
            "simplistic" approach, I question as to whether there is a need
            to "Rebrand Planetariums" as has been suggested by a number of
            people who have made invaluable contributions to the discussion at hand.

            To refer to the University of Phoenix definition of a Planetarium:

            http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=planetarium&x=28&y=11

            One could put forward a strong argument that "Public Perception"
            or "Public Opinion" for the sake of this discussion, of what a
            Planetarium actually is, could be more closely associated with the
            points of reference within the definition, that of "The building or
            room in which such a device is housed"

            As is in the case of IMAX, the advancement of technology has seen the
            expansion of content, notably the increasing amount of "3D"
            content without the need redefine IMAX as a brand. In this case, the
            definition in the context of "Public Opinion" of IMAX has
            expanded with an increase in awareness of the diversity of content and
            formats available to the public. As the public awareness in this case
            allows for choice, regardless of motivation (educational, entertainment
            or a combination of both) The logical economic equation being as public
            awareness increases, with a carefully managed and cohesive Marketing/PR
            strategy, so does the public perception of the product or service. At
            the end of the day in "simpleton" terms, this means more
            "Bums on Seats". More "Bums on Seats" relates to an
            increase in revenue. The flow on effect of which is clearly
            identifiable.

            Could this be a consideration in terms of "The Planetarium Identity
            Crisis"? To reinvigorate and expand within the marketplace the level
            of awareness as to the diversity of content Planetariums are able to
            offer, consequently expanding "… the boring identity that some have
            towards planetariums" as referred to by Ed's previous posting.
            Without the arduous complexities, not to mention financial cost the task
            of rebranding would entail?

            Is it the "Perception" rather than the "Identity" of a
            Planetarium that may need to be considered?

            A Unified approach between IPS and the Fulldome Community certainly
            seems to be the most logical and sensible approach!

            Daniel D.
          • Mark Matthews
            This has been a very interesting conversation and I thought it may be useful to throw in a consultant s view to the discussion. I think the word Digital
            Message 5 of 17 , Sep 21 9:37 AM
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              This has been a very interesting conversation and I thought it may be useful
              to throw in a consultant's view to the discussion.

              I think the word 'Digital' needs to be within the Full dome description.
              This immediately eliminates all of the old technologies, production
              practices and the majority of misleading interpretations that could be, and
              have been, assigned to the term we are using of 'Full Dome'.

              I always differentiate between a Planetarium and a Digital Dome. They are
              very different theatres. It has been pointed out that 'Planetarium' is the
              term used for an instrument that generates models/simulations of the night
              sky and planets or a theatre that houses this instrument. These theatres are
              traditionally horizontal domes with high spring lines and concentric
              seating. The star projectors can now project images that are greater than
              eye limiting resolution i.e. stars so small that they cannot be resolved by
              the naked eye, but that collectively can form dust cloud effects that very
              realistically simulate the Milky Way, nebulae etc.. This technology has not
              yet been surpassed/superseded by video projection and is unlikely to be for
              some years to come. These theatres are used solely for education.

              A digital dome theatre will always be designed with a tilt to provide a
              forward and sometimes downward field of view, the spring line is much lower
              (the audience are pushed up into the environment for maximum immersion), the
              audience are forward facing as most of the imagery will have a right-way-up.
              A digital dome can show any type of content, which may include astronomy
              shows or datasets, and is not restricted in its subject material. These
              theatres are about immersive visualization and are used for education,
              entertainment and research. These theatres can also project video images
              captured by digital cameras and film based cameras with a digital conversion
              process.

              When a planetarium adopts full dome technology there are instantly a number
              of compromises to be made. The area of interest on the screen shifts,
              sometimes substantially, and the entire content production process is
              changed. This, I think, is partly why the dome standards group have the
              interesting challenge of pinning down tangible standards/values for content
              production and distribution within the planetarium community. Each theatre
              requires different compromises.

              I accept that the above definitions can be nit-picked to death and that some
              of the technologies currently in use for full dome are analogue, but I think
              that the insertion of the word 'Digital' into our description of Full Dome
              helps the avoidance of confusion to people who are new to the business or
              who are unclear where the lanterns end and the cinema begins.

              Digital Full Dome refers to the technology, the content, the production, the
              storage and delivery of hemispherical images that fill a domed screen. It
              can be used in a planetarium, a digital theatre or a simulator.

              Mark Matthews
              Visual Acuity Ltd.
            • Mark C. Petersen
              Mark Matthews points re: adding digital to the definition sound logical to me. The only death-defying nits I d pick would be: * the bit about a digital dome
              Message 6 of 17 , Sep 22 8:00 AM
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                Mark Matthews' points re: adding digital to the definition sound logical to me.

                The only death-defying nits I'd pick would be:

                * the bit about a digital dome theater *always* designed with a
                tilt (I'd wuss out with "almost always"), and

                * "full dome" being two grammatical words instead of (Ryan's?
                Someone's?) neologoistic "fulldome" (although Sky-Skan apparently is
                on your side here too).

                >> Mark

                ___________________________________
                Mark C. Petersen
                Loch Ness Productions
                http://www.lochnessproductions.com
                ___________ GEODESIUM _____________
              • Ryan Wyatt
                ... Yeah, cuz the Hayden Planetarium would then not be a fulldome theater, nor would the Einstein Planetarium at the National Air and Space Museum. Hmmm. My
                Message 7 of 17 , Sep 22 10:00 AM
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                  Mark P. commented on Mark M.'s thoughts:

                  > * the bit about a digital dome theater *always* designed with a
                  > tilt (I'd wuss out with "almost always"), and

                  Yeah, 'cuz the Hayden Planetarium would then not be a fulldome
                  theater, nor would the Einstein Planetarium at the National Air and
                  Space Museum. Hmmm.

                  My issue here (and the reason I referenced Samuel Johnson a few posts
                  ago) is that we should be empirical in our definition, not
                  dictatorial. When Johnson started writing his dictionary, he wanted
                  to organize and effectively dictate words' proper meanings. As he
                  progressed with his work, he realized that language, being a living
                  and organic, human-made entity, defies simple categorization, and
                  thus "as any opinion grows popular, it will innovate speech in the
                  same proportion as it alters practice."

                  So my argument would be that trying to be too specific about what is
                  or isn't a planetarium or a fulldome theater or whatever will always
                  get you in trouble, because in fact, as practices alter (i.e., new
                  domes open up calling themselves one or the other), the language will
                  "innovate."

                  That said, the "digital" bit is rather important. Of course, pre-
                  fulldome, people talked about "digital domed theaters" instead of
                  planetariums, and those things still used slide projectors! :)

                  Anyway, the current Wikipedia definition reads, "Fulldome is used to
                  refer to immersive dome-based video projection environments." Should
                  we say "immersive dome-based digital video projection environments"
                  instead? Seems a tad cumbersome.

                  > * "full dome" being two grammatical words instead of (Ryan's?
                  > Someone's?) neologoistic "fulldome" (although Sky-Skan apparently
                  > is on your side here too).

                  I'll take credit and/or flak for "fulldome." Back in the late 1990s,
                  I was rather taken with the Wired Style Guide, and one of the
                  observations made in that small tome was that adjectives tend to lose
                  their hyphen over time; thus, "on-line" becomes "online," "world-
                  wide" becomes "worldwide," etc. Properly, as a compound adjective,
                  "full-dome" should receive a hyphen, but I decided we should jump the
                  gun and go for the single-word "fulldome." Thus, IMNAAHO, "full dome
                  video" is incorrect, "full-dome" is proper but not preferred, and
                  "fulldome" just looks the most pleasing to me.

                  Mark M. himself had written:

                  > It has been pointed out that 'Planetarium' is the term used for an
                  > instrument that generates models/simulations of the night sky and
                  > planets or a theatre that houses this instrument. [...] These
                  > theatres are used solely for education.

                  Laser shows are educational...? Well, I guess they can be. This is
                  a perfect example of too much specificity.

                  > Digital [fulldome] refers to the technology, the content, the
                  > production, the storage and delivery of hemispherical images that
                  > fill a domed screen. It can be used in a planetarium, a digital
                  > theatre or a simulator.

                  Agreed.


                  Ryan, a.k.a.
                  Ryan Wyatt, Science Visualizer
                  Rose Center for Earth & Space
                  American Museum of Natural History
                  79th Street at Central Park West
                  New York, NY 10024
                • Tom Casey
                  On Sep 22, 2006, at 1:00 PM, Ryan Wyatt wrote: I ll take credit and/or flak for fulldome. Back in the late 1990s, I was rather taken with the Wired Style
                  Message 8 of 17 , Sep 22 11:18 AM
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                    On Sep 22, 2006, at 1:00 PM, Ryan Wyatt wrote:

                    I'll take credit and/or flak for "fulldome." Back in the late 1990s,
                    I was rather taken with the Wired Style Guide, and one of the
                    observations made in that small tome was that adjectives tend to lose
                    their hyphen over time; thus, "on-line" becomes "online," "world-
                    wide" becomes "worldwide," etc. Properly, as a compound adjective,
                    "full-dome" should receive a hyphen, but I decided we should jump the
                    gun and go for the single-word "fulldome." Thus, IMNAAHO, "full dome
                    video" is incorrect, "full-dome" is proper but not preferred, and
                    "fulldome" just looks the most pleasing to me.

                    From a producer's view, all of the planetariums we deal with are
                    referring to the media as "fulldome." So it's already widely accepted.

                    And anyway, I just finished editing all our informational and
                    promotional materials to read "fulldome" instead of "all dome" that
                    was used initially about 8 years ago. Also, we've been using the
                    word "immersive" more as an experience expression, not as a
                    definition of the medium.

                    Tom


                    ************************************************
                    H o m e R u n P i c t u r e s

                    Tom Casey
                    President & Creative Director

                    100 First Avenue - Suite 450
                    Pittsburgh, PA 15222
                    412-391-8200
                    mailto:tom@...
                    http://www.hrpictures.com
                  • Martin Howe
                    Ryan Wyatt writes.. but I decided we should jump the gun and go for the single-word fulldome. So there I was yesterday describing a fulldome to one of our
                    Message 9 of 17 , Sep 22 12:30 PM
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                      Ryan Wyatt writes..

                      "but I decided we should jump the gun and go for the single-word "fulldome."

                      So there I was yesterday describing a 'fulldome' to one of our new software engineers and did a quick laptop demo of Uniview. He related it to Google Earth and said "so it's like a Googlearium then"!...

                      Mmmm, so maybe we should jump the gun a few years and just call it a Googlearium!

                      ;-)


                      Martin

                      p.s. I think he gets it!
                    • Don Davis
                      ... Perhaps a little understandable wishful thinking on Mark M s part...:-)? The role of the tilt in show potential has been discussed in the past, and aside
                      Message 10 of 17 , Sep 22 12:53 PM
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                        >Mark P. commented on Mark M.'s thoughts:

                        >> * the bit about a digital dome theater *always* designed with a
                        >> tilt (I'd wuss out with "almost always"), and

                        >Yeah, 'cuz the Hayden Planetarium would then not be a fulldome
                        >theater, nor would the Einstein Planetarium at the National Air and
                        >Space Museum. Hmmm.

                        Perhaps a little understandable 'wishful thinking' on Mark M's
                        part...:-)? The role of the tilt in show potential has been discussed
                        in the past, and aside from a few 'flat' domes out there, an
                        anachronism generally imposed by someone's whims at a critical point
                        in the design, many people in the field see the utility of allowing a
                        look 'down' into a simulated view.

                        I think Mark Matthews makes a worthy point here:

                        'I always differentiate between a Planetarium and a Digital Dome. They are
                        very different theatres.'

                        I have the impression that the role of these facilities rests in the
                        hands of a very few people. A domed facility is generally what its
                        Director says it is, if they want to be nothing more than a
                        traditional Planetarium so be it. This is more important than the
                        details of the theater configuration.

                        What is expected of a domed facility can be influenced by what it is
                        called. For this reason I favor abandoning the term 'Planetarium' for
                        digital domed theaters as a limiting term describing but a subset of
                        what can be presented. The word 'Planetarium' has the tradition and
                        the baggage of decades of educational emphasis which invokes a fairly
                        specific idea of what to expect in such shows. This is the 'box' many
                        a facility capable of doing more beyond mandated educational
                        programming work within to this day. When people who think within the
                        traditional Planetarium 'box' make decisions to build new digital
                        domed theaters with a flat dome they are stunting the potential of
                        that theater for all time. All things considered, I would rather have
                        a domed theater emulating a Planetarium when desired than try to work
                        with a traditional design Planetarium trying to match versatile
                        visual environment of a dedicated tilted dome theater.

                        Don Davis
                      • Erik Roberts
                        On 23/09/2006, at 3:00 AM, Ryan Wyatt wrote: ... Yeah, cuz the Hayden Planetarium would then not be a fulldome theater, nor would the Einstein Planetarium at
                        Message 11 of 17 , Sep 22 2:31 PM
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                          On 23/09/2006, at 3:00 AM, Ryan Wyatt wrote:

                          Mark P. commented on Mark M.'s thoughts:

                          > * the bit about a digital dome theater *always* designed with a
                          > tilt (I'd wuss out with "almost always"), and

                          Yeah, 'cuz the Hayden Planetarium would then not be a fulldome
                          theater, nor would the Einstein Planetarium at the National Air and
                          Space Museum. Hmmm.

                          My issue here (and the reason I referenced Samuel Johnson a few
                          posts ago) is that we should be empirical in our definition, not
                          dictatorial.

                          Does anyone else feel the need for a subheading on the
                          Wiki ( - what a great resource it has quickly become! - )
                          to clarify the situation regarding uni and omni
                          directional theaters and shows?

                          In view of the fact that OmniMax is the opposite of
                          omni-directional, that the Hayden, Einstein and my
                          local planetarium in Brisbane are omni, and that the
                          majority of portables are also, I would personally appreciate
                          any effort to keep the door open for those who wish to
                          work in the round - i.e. with the true geometry of the
                          hemisphere - I realise there is a long technical history
                          and a huge commercial incentive to go uni-directional,
                          but there may be untold creative applications in the
                          future which could require concentric viewing.

                          It seems bizarre to me that the way the seats are arranged
                          dictates the way the images are composed. The visualisers
                          of the future may wish to utilize the full 360-degree space
                          as it links us to the past and mimics our primal experience.

                          I guess I'm asking - as a newbie, I hasten to add - are flat,
                          untilted omni-directional an extinct species of fulldome already
                          (BTW - thanks Ryan for explaining how to spell 'fulldome')
                          or can the industry accommodate two modes of production
                          and reception?

                          cameraderie
                        • Steve Cooper
                          I think Wolverine said it best: It certainly is a big, round room Sorry, I really need supervision after the eleventh hour. Steve Cooper Technical
                          Message 12 of 17 , Sep 22 3:32 PM
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                            I think Wolverine said it best:

                            "It certainly is a big, round room"

                            Sorry, I really need supervision after the eleventh hour.

                            Steve Cooper
                            Technical Coordinator
                            Science Center of Iowa
                            401 W. ML King.
                            Des Moines, Iowa 50309
                            515-274-6868 X:231
                          • Erik Roberts
                            Steve, the in joke went over my head. I know you guys must be sick of this subject but just for a second - please - consider the potential social importance of
                            Message 13 of 17 , Sep 22 5:11 PM
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                              Steve, the in joke went over my head. I know you guys must be sick of
                              this subject but just for a second - please - consider the potential
                              social importance of visual music in the dome, or any other imagery -
                              abstract or semi-realistic - that does not obey the right-side-up laws
                              of physics.

                              In know I have snuck over to fulldome.org from ioto and CVM - there much
                              more going on on this forum in terms of ground breaking audiovisual work
                              so I'm a devoted fan of the medium as a whole. Just can't help feeling
                              that we're going to see some truly startling visual music in the dome
                              that will attract a stampede of patrons to the dome in due course.

                              Actually, can I make a retraction? Perhaps the best attitude is "what
                              will be will be".

                              cameraderie
                            • Mark C. Petersen
                              ... No need to clarify any situation regarding uni and omni directional theaters -- because there isn t one. If you re referring to seating arrays, there are
                              Message 14 of 17 , Sep 22 5:13 PM
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                                At 05:31 PM 22-09-06, Erik Roberts typed:

                                >Does anyone else feel the need for a subheading on the
                                >Wiki ( - what a great resource it has quickly become! - )
                                >to clarify the situation regarding uni and omni
                                >directional theaters and shows?

                                No need to clarify any "situation regarding uni and omni directional
                                theaters" -- because there isn't one.

                                If you're referring to seating arrays, there are basically three:

                                concentric -- curved rows of seats facing center

                                epicentric -- curved rows of seats facing front

                                unidirectional -- straight rows of seats facing front

                                There are a few weird combos and other variations, but basically you
                                have those three. Front-facing seating arrays greatly outnumber
                                concentric in fulldome theaters. They do in non-fulldome traditional
                                planetarium theaters too.

                                If a theater had seats that each spun around on their own axis like
                                barstools, that might qualify as "omnidirectional", but I don't think
                                you'll find many of those -- which is why nobody uses the term, other
                                than for microphone pickup patterns.

                                Aside -- what I want to see someday is a tilt-dome theater with
                                concentric seating.

                                (Pause for mental images to form....) (Ta-pum-PUM!)

                                >In view of the fact that OmniMax is the opposite of
                                >omni-directional, that the Hayden, Einstein and my
                                >local planetarium in Brisbane are omni,

                                The Albert Einstein Planetarium in Washington DC has epicentric seating.

                                >but there may be untold creative applications in the
                                >future which could require concentric viewing.

                                Maybe, maybe not. In the meantime, you go where the market is.

                                >It seems bizarre to me that the way the seats are arranged
                                >dictates the way the images are composed.

                                It seems perfectly logical to me. You put your imagery where the
                                audiences are looking.

                                >The visualisers of the future may wish to utilize the full 360-degree space

                                If they want most of their audiences to actually see most of their
                                work, they may not.

                                >as it links us to the past and mimics our primal experience.

                                I don't know about past linkages. And I can't say I've felt
                                particularly primal in theaters I've been in recently. This may be a
                                good thing for those sitting in my vicinity too. :-)

                                "In a darkened theater of strangers, the last thing you want to have
                                is a "hands-on experience".

                                >I guess I'm asking - as a newbie, I hasten to add - are flat,
                                >untilted omni-directional an extinct species of fulldome already
                                >(BTW - thanks Ryan for explaining how to spell 'fulldome')
                                >or can the industry accommodate two modes of production
                                >and reception?

                                Not extinct, yet, but in the minority already, and their numbers
                                continue a downward trend as the majority of newer fulldome theaters
                                are built with front-facing seating.

                                There's no "industry accommodation" to be had between concentric and
                                front-facing theaters; you can have one or the other, either/or. As
                                discussed in a previous thread, shows produced for audiences the
                                round differ from those produced for audiences facing the same
                                way. Not everyone has the budget to render two (or more) different
                                versions of their shows. That's what it would take for "accommodation".

                                >> Mark


                                ___________________________________
                                Mark C. Petersen
                                Loch Ness Productions
                                http://www.lochnessproductions.com
                                ___________ GEODESIUM _____________
                              • Ryan Wyatt
                                ... From X-Men. Professor X s mutant-finding machine Cerebro is depicted in the films as a giant spherical chamber. I don t know who did the fulldome
                                Message 15 of 17 , Sep 22 5:43 PM
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                                  > Steve, the in joke went over my head.

                                  From "X-Men." Professor X's mutant-finding machine Cerebro is
                                  depicted in the films as a giant spherical chamber. I don't know who
                                  did the fulldome installation at Xavier's School for Gifted
                                  Youngsters, but Goto claims to have done the only four-pi steradian
                                  installation, so I can only assume it was they. Much more
                                  interesting would be to know who did the installation of the Danger
                                  Room, since that's a much more impressive bit of technology.

                                  Anyway...

                                  > Just can't help feeling that we're going to see some truly
                                  > startling visual music in the dome that will attract a stampede of
                                  > patrons to the dome in due course.

                                  I think it will have to start with individual artists getting behind
                                  the medium, willing to allow use of their music in the dome, etc.
                                  One of the challenges with "SonicVision" was acquiring all the music
                                  rights. Our connections with MTV made that a lot easier, but it was
                                  still a costly and time-consuming effort. Plus, we negotiated rights
                                  based on our non-profit status, so it would be even more challenging
                                  for a commercial institution. If, on the other hand, Laurie Anderson
                                  or Philip Glass decide that they want to collaborate on a production
                                  for the medium...

                                  Just my $0.02.


                                  Ryan, a.k.a.
                                  Ryan Wyatt, Science Visualizer
                                  Rose Center for Earth & Space
                                  American Museum of Natural History
                                  79th Street at Central Park West
                                  New York, NY 10024
                                • Tom Casey
                                  Let s face it... the differences out there are not going to change, now or with new facilities... and it s a wide variety of configurations in dome tilt, seat
                                  Message 16 of 17 , Sep 23 6:55 AM
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                                    Let's face it... the differences out there are not going to change,
                                    now or with new facilities... and it's a wide variety of
                                    configurations in dome tilt, seat configurations, projection setups
                                    and most importantly, every facility's ego saying "what we have is
                                    best." And I'm saying that with a :-) so don't get me wrong.

                                    As for all us picky creative types, I for one, have learned to not be
                                    so "fussy" with my artistic expectations when I see our work
                                    displayed in the differing setups. Instead I've learned to
                                    appreciate the differing experiences when seeing our shows at various
                                    sites. Yes, at times it's an "ouch," but in the reality of it all,
                                    99% of the audience never sees a show in more than one facility,
                                    their local one. So only us in the biz get to really see the
                                    differences.

                                    But the point I want to make here is this. If a show is well
                                    designed, it still makes an impression (obviously differing) in the
                                    various setups... if it was NOT well designed, well what can you say.

                                    And that is where I see an "identity crisis." Currently every
                                    fulldome facility or content producer works separately, very
                                    separately. The identity crisis exists because of that approach to
                                    content production. The product content, the storytelling has
                                    suffered since fulldome is much more demanding than what has usually
                                    been accomplished by a single facility.

                                    No matter what you think about IMAX... a sucessfull IMAX film was
                                    always an IMAX experience... good storytelling on a real big screen.
                                    And since it was film, the production process to get to the end was
                                    pushed by the consistent film producer's process that's been around
                                    for decades. And it is not controlled by a single local process.

                                    In the planetarium turned fulldome world, all that's there is the old
                                    "planetarium" way of doing things and it's a differing, local
                                    controlled process. Every facility we deal with wants us to work
                                    with them differently... their way.

                                    To sum up my meandering, the identity crisis for fulldome stems from
                                    this lack of any kind of group approached process to the end result.

                                    We are trying to ram the fulldome experience (whatever you care to
                                    define that as) into a pre-existing audience expectation... that of
                                    going into a dome and seeing stars projected overhead to their
                                    delight. If we have an identity crisis in fulldome, it's probably
                                    because we haven't always given them a similar wow.

                                    Tom

                                    ************************************************
                                    H o m e R u n P i c t u r e s

                                    Tom Casey
                                    President & Creative Director

                                    100 First Avenue - Suite 450
                                    Pittsburgh, PA 15222
                                    412-391-8200
                                    mailto:tom@...
                                    http://www.hrpictures.com
                                  • Peter Frankland
                                    G day All, We have concentric seating in our non tilted dome at the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium with 128 seats under a 12.5m dome. The seats are arranged
                                    Message 17 of 17 , Sep 23 9:42 PM
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                                      G'day All,

                                      We have concentric seating in our non tilted dome at the Sir Thomas
                                      Brisbane Planetarium with 128 seats under a 12.5m dome. The seats are
                                      arranged with two large sections totalling 96 seats, a smaller section
                                      with 20 seats and some more running up the side of the console. Each of
                                      the large sections covers about 120 degrees starting in the North and
                                      running to either the SW or SE. The 20 seat section goes from South to
                                      SE and the few beside the console are SSW to SW.

                                      We also kept our Zeiss Spacemaster when we upgraded so instead of the
                                      usual 6 projectors we had to go to 8. During a show we level the Zeiss
                                      horizontally so it gives a minimum dome obstruction.

                                      Just as Mark has stated in his reply to Erik,

                                      >>I guess I'm asking - as a newbie, I hasten to add - are flat,
                                      >>untilted omni-directional an extinct species of fulldome already [snip]

                                      >Not extinct, yet, but in the minority already, and their numbers
                                      >continue a downward trend as the majority of newer fulldome theaters
                                      >are built with front-facing seating.

                                      We are witnessing this first hand when it comes to deciding on a new
                                      show. Simply put, they are almost always designed for a unidirectional
                                      or epicentric theatre arrangement. At the moment we run four digital
                                      shows in our dome, "The Secret of the Dragon", "Passport to the
                                      Universe", "The Search for Life: Are We Alone?" and "Infinity Express".
                                      The two AMNH productions are not a problem for us as our planetarium is
                                      simply a smaller version of the Hayden. "Infinity Express" was sliced
                                      for us in such a way that the sweet spot alters throughout the show.
                                      "The Secret of the Dragon" was kept in its traditional orientation and
                                      as such, we cannot sell to our full capacity in that we rope off the
                                      small 20 seat area and console seat area.

                                      After IPS, my boss and I sat down and mulled over the latest shows on
                                      offer (not that we actually have any money to get them.). We both liked
                                      Astronaut but were concerned about its preferred direction. Truth to
                                      tell, it seems to be a bit of a hybrid show in that some parts are
                                      suitable for a concentric dome whilst other segments are best for a
                                      unidirectional dome. I took a still frame from the Astronaut website
                                      and, using DigitalSky, put it on the dome to get a better idea of what
                                      it would look like. Taking into consideration the seating style of our
                                      theatre, the obstructing Zeiss, the length of the show and how much of
                                      it is positioned to the South, we estimate that we could get away with
                                      90 patrons (70% capacity) maximum or 70 patrons (55% capacity) preferred
                                      for that show. Not really ideal for maximum monetary return.

                                      At one stage we brought in a seating specialist and threw an idea to him
                                      about SE and SW portions of the two large sections. Could we put them
                                      on a sort of turntable and have those areas swivel to face the South?
                                      Oddly enough, he never really got back to us on that matter.

                                      In the future, when the price of high quality projectors come down, we
                                      will remove the Zeiss and become fully digital. At that stage I guess
                                      we will have to very seriously consider adjusting the seating style to
                                      match fulldome show production (will it be cost effective to do that?)
                                      and we will have to consider the role of our facility. Will it become
                                      simply a digital theatre with a funky curved screen? Will astronomy
                                      start to play second fiddle to other content? Because we are a stand
                                      alone facility, will that affect us? Or should we reject going fully
                                      digital and make a decision to stay as a traditional educational
                                      astronomical planetarium?

                                      Peter.

                                      Peter Frankland
                                      Planetarium Support Officer
                                      Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium
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