Interviews at IMERSA 2015 – Recent Challenges

The IMERSA Summit 2015 was intense, fascinating, and gave me a fresh breath of air of where fulldome is headed. Each of the presentations/panels were well prepared and technical problems were solved quickly. And the amount of attendees is just at that equilibrium where you can still meet a fair amount of people.

I ran into many people that are clearly passionate about fulldome and it was inspiring to hear their unique perspectives and experiences. So I realized that I should document a slice of these conversations with one interview question:
What challenges have you recently faced?

  • AJ Christensen – Visualization Programmer / Advanced Visualization Lab, National Center for Supercomputing App.
  • Matthew Mascheri – President & CEO / Dome3D
  • Aaron Bradbury – CG Supervisor / NSC Creative
  • Brad Thompson – Lead Animator / Spitz Inc.
  • Mike Schmitt – Digital Media Supervisor / California Academy of Sciences
  • Ron Proctor – Production Supervisor / Clark Planetarium
  • Michael Daut – Director of Show Production & Marketing / Evans & Sutherland
  • Tom Casey – Creative Director / Home Run Pictures
  • Nina Wise – Producer & Director / The Kepler Story
  • Jim Kachelries – Animator / Morehead Planetarium
  • Dominic St-Amant – Video Lead / Société des Arts Technologiques (SAT)
  • Ka Chun Yu – Curator of Space Science / Denver Museum of Nature & Science
  • Maciej Ligowski – Program Coordinator / Creative Planet
  • Ty Owen – Manager of Theater Programs / COSI Planetarium
  • Jenny Shipway – Planetarium Manager / Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium
  • Carolyn Sumners – Vice President of Astronomy and Physics / Houston Museum of Natural Science
  • Gord Harris – R&D / Christie Digital Systems

Update: May 13, 2015 – Check out this excellent video of the IMERSA Summit 2015 Highlights, which showcases clips from many of my favorite talks. It gives a really great synopsis of what the conference is all about. You can also watch the direct video recordings from the conference.

2 thoughts on “Interviews at IMERSA 2015 – Recent Challenges

  1. Hi Jason.

    As a fulldome tools developer I have to say my biggest challenge is to stay in constant contact with fulldome artists to understand their ever changing needs and production workflows. The fulldome and VR sectors have been changing so quickly that the 3D animation packages, renderers, and best practices for fulldome content creation keep me on my toes every day and I am always learning new things.

    Day to day I find it to be quite challenging to get a new immersive rendering feature developed from the conceptual stage into a final working tool because it is hard to maintain a core beta testing team as there is quite a bit of artist turnover in the industry.

    Also since fulldome productions are done by small teams of artists without the involvement of VFX Studio style technical directors, pipeline development staff, etc… it can take 6 months plus before a fulldome test site is in the position to do a dot version upgrade of a tool or try out a new feature. This can have the effect of a giant pause button on the testing and development of a critical feature like a crossbounce light simulation toolset that needs to have real world measurements done to compare the accuracy of a renderer to an actual fulldome theater.

    Right now I have been clocking up the hours on the development of a new immersive hardware renderer for Maya called PlayblastVR and I’m hoping it will become a popular previz tool with fulldome artists and VR content producers.

    In think 2015 will be the year that angular and latlong video tracking tools “go mainstream” and I think this will open up the arena for immersive live action scene integration style visual effects for film-makers at almost every budget level.

    Also, immersive stereo rendering tools were previously limited to people who used the mental ray renderer. This year will see a massive growth in the amount of stereo fulldome/latlong rendering options available as artists will/are able to render panoramic stereo imagery in Arnold, Vray, Maxwell, Houdini, etc… and get near identical results in each of the renderers.

    Andrew Hazelden

  2. I recently asked Dan Neafus (Denver Museum of Nature & Science) what fulldome challenges he has faced recently. Below is his answer:

    “Architecture! The Gates Planetarium features an architectural feature we call the “drum wall”. It is a massive, multi-layer steel stud and metal skinned headache. Why? because it rings the audience, obscuring the bottom 18 inches of the dome and blocks all of the projectors. To accommodate the various Fulldome systems that we have had installed I had to break out my sawsall demolition tool and cut holes in the wall! Metal and plywood chips everywhere. This architectural “feature” now looks like Swiss cheese with eleven 2 foot by 2 foot openings for our first system, six more for our current system and two more openings for the dual 4K system installed by E&S for the Summit. I will be thrilled to see this wall torn out completely some day to be replaced with a simple curtain.”

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