Destination Mars: The New Frontier – Watch the Trailer

Ever wonder what it would be like to fly to Mars? NASA – and others – have their sights set on the Red Planet and they’re building the technology to get us there! Destination Mars: The New Frontier gives you an up-close look at humanity’s most epic endeavor.

Explore the work being done around the globe to help make the dream of getting humans to Mars a reality. Fly through the International Space Station, where astronauts are already living and working in space, and follow the rockets and vehicles that will take humans beyond the Moon and, one day, all the way to Mars! Travel along as we imagine this remarkable journey.


Narrated by former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison and Emmy-award winning actor Keith David. Includes original music by Claudio Ragazzi, a Grammy Award-winning professor at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

  • Running time is 30 minutes.
  • Available for unidirectional and concentric dome formats.
  • Suitable for family audiences and school groups. Includes a comprehensive educator’s guide.
  • Distributed by Sky-Skan, Spitz, K2 Studios, and Loch Ness Productions.

This material is based upon work supported by NASA under grant number NNX16AM21G. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the Museum of Science, Boston and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Exploring Render Engines for Fulldome Production

In recent years, the 3D industry went from very little support of fisheye rendering and now every modern render engine fully embraces it. I think we can thank the rise of VR for helping to shine a light on immersive production.

We recently had a chance to upgrade the render engine that we use in Maya for producing our fulldome shows. We were also able to add some computers to our old 10-node render farm. Many thanks to the Charles Hayden Foundation for the grant that made this vital tech leap possible.

With the recent introduction of GPU render engines, things are a bit more convoluted when considered alongside CPU render engines. Yet each render engine is unique and excels at different aspects, so it makes comparing them tricky work.

And so I thought it would be useful to hear from the fulldome community…

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Expedition to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

We recently traveled to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to gather reference imagery for our planetarium show production about human spaceflight to Mars. What an epic trip!

It was surreal to walk inside of the Vehicle Assembly Building and travel up to the 37th floor of this incredibly huge single-story building. Currently the VAB is being retrofitted so that the SLS rocket can be vertically assembled within. This retrofit includes special motorized platforms which can be moved into place according to the needs of the project at hand.

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The Reefs of Belize – Fulldome & VR Short

In January 2016, Allan Adams and Keith Ellenbogen took a group of MIT students scuba diving in Belize as part of a college course on underwater conservation photography. Coral reefs worldwide are deteriorating due to changes in our climate and so it’s important to document both the beauty of our oceans and what’s happening to them. Capturing this moment in time is important for future generations to learn from, be immersed in, and be inspired from.

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Fisheye to Spherical Conversion using After Effects

fisheye-to-spherical-conversion-of-kodak-pixpro-sp360-4k-footage

Lately I’ve been shooting with the Kodak PIXPRO SP360 4k camera for both VR and the planetarium dome. Shooting with dual cameras is great for capturing 360°, but shooting with a single camera is sometimes easier since the footage doesn’t need to be stitched. Also a single camera captures 235° which is a surprisingly huge FOV. Yet it’s necessary to warp the footage from fisheye to spherical so that it can be experienced in VR or Youtube 360.

The ‘Pixpro SP360 4k’ software is actually capable of warping a single camera from fisheye to spherical. But it’s not intuitive (here is a tutorial) and the Kodak software can only export footage to MP4… And seeing as how the raw camera footage is an already heavily compressed MP4, I wasn’t thrilled about this added lossy step. So I figured out a simple technqiue.

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NASA Grant – Jackson Hole Finalist – Boston Globe Article

NASA Grant: Planetarium Show

A while back we applied for a NASA grant and we’ve been patiently waiting to hear the results… And we are thrilled to announce that we have been selected! We are one of nine organizations chosen from 73 applications through a peer-reviewed process.

The two-year NASA grant will enable us to capture the excitement of the next generation’s moonshot — the human journey to Mars and back. We will create two educational experiences that will bring to life the engineering skills and team spirit fueling this historic pioneering endeavor. So stay tuned…

AS12-49-7278-webImage Source: NASA Project Apollo Archive

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Interviews at IMERSA 2016 – Recent Challenges

It’s been fascinating to see IMERSA evolve and mature over the last few years. And since things are moving so fast, I wanted to document the challenges being faced in the immersive community with a series of interviews.

Last year at IMERSA there were nervous murmurings of VR, but this year there is clear excitement. It’s particularly interesting to see fulldome producers realize that they already possess the tools, skills, and ultra high resolution workflows to create polished VR experiences.

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