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.

The Mobile Launcher Platform is a sight to behold. We walked underneath the platform and looked through the massive exhaust duct where the SLS rockets boosters will blast off. The platform is currently being altered in order to support the heavier weight and additional thrust of the SLS.

Walking underneath the crawler transporter was a good moment to grasp it’s immense scale. It is such a strange mechanical behemoth and so it was difficult to imagine it in motion to slowly transport a standing rocket while also keeping it level. When the time comes, the crawler will carry both the Mobile Launcher Platform and the SLS from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad.

Exploring Launch Pad 39B was exciting from a historical perspective and also looking to the future. This launch site was used for the Apollo 10 launch (Saturn V), three Skylab missions (Saturn 1B), and 53 space shuttle launches. Currently the pad is being retrofitted so it can withstand the thrust levels expected from SLS and other large-power rockets.

And of course we had to visit the rocket garden and Saturn V displayed horizontally…

Many thanks to the amazing NASA staff for their generosity and eagerness. It was a wonderfully inspirational trip that has proved vital for the production of our planetarium show. Now we’re back to the grindstone and cranking out 3D animation for the show. Long live NASA!

2017 in Review: Special Events

What an intense year! We threw a huge amount of unique and challenging special events and learned a ton in the process. Currently we are deep in production of our new fulldome show about human spaceflight to Mars, which we received a NASA grant to create. But before jumping into this new year I’d like to look back at 2017 and share what we’ve been up to.

Summer Thursdays

During the summer season we threw a special event every Thursday and transformed the planetarium with one-of-a-kind performances, collaborations, and screenings. So we had the opportunity to try out a bunch of wild ideas and experiments:

  • We collaborated with ImprovBoston to bring comedians into the planetarium and create an improvised comedy show. This was exciting for both the comedians and for us since it was a meeting of minds of how to best utilize the immersive environment and what custom visuals would work best in the context of their improv games.
  • Invited several different local bands of Boston to perform live in the planetarium. This was fun since they would give us the setlist a few weeks prior to the show and we would create the dome visuals to match the hit-points of the song. Having live music in the planetarium brings a untamed energy that is exhilarating to experience. We worked with Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys, Hallelujah the Hills, and Niki Luparelli & the Golddiggers. Below is a 360 music video we created since we loved the Walter Sickert live show so much.
  • Screened classic sci-fi films such as Alien (Marathon), Independence Day, Starship Troopers, Back to the Future (Marathon), Galaxy Quest, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We projected these movies on a portion of the dome, added stars in the background, and used the powerful planetarium speaker system.
  • Brought in Wes Hazard to throw The Big Quiz Thing, a fresh approach to trivia. It’s a crazy mix of pop culture, music, history, and sports to the completely indefinable, with offbeat trivia puzzles.

SubSpace: Music Shows

We continued the SubSpace series and created some brand new music show experiences dedicated to popular music artists. In the spotlight this summer was Rihanna, Coldplay, and Justin Timberlake. (In 2016 we created SubSpace music shows featuring David Bowie, Prince, Björk, Beyoncé, Radiohead, Tom Waits, Lady Gaga.) These shows are now being cycled into our regular weekend programming.


As part of the HUBweek festival, a geodesic dome was setup by SwissNex and we were asked to participate. So we collaborated to throw several events:

  • We collected some of our favorite astronomy visuals into a relaxing experience, curated an ambient playlist, and then threw a Cosmic Meditation session.
  • Screened several shorts including Waiting Far Away, Cycle, and Uncharted Domain. We also had a discussion session called Making a Live Storytelling Show for a Planetarium and then screened three shorts from Stories Under the Stars 2016: Light in the Dark.
  • I also threw an event on my own called Modulate Live where we transformed the dome into an immersive dance party! The event featured live improvised experimental techno performances by Abacus of Doom and Kip Schwinger on modular synthesizers. The dome visuals were created live by Anagram using analog+digital hardware. There is a delicate artistry in generative visuals responding instantly to the music and it was incredible to experience it immersively. By combining complex visuals and intense music, the audience danced in the dome while gazing into infinity. It was a special experience and something I’d love to do again. Below is a video recording of the dome visuals and musicians performing.

Special Events

As if that didn’t keep us busy enough, we also threw several other special events in the planetarium:

  • Synesthesia Suite: Constellations /// We invited Mary Bichner and the Planetary Quartet to perform live in the planetarium with her wonderful classical-meets-pop style. Since Mary has synesthesia, we applied her music notes to create visuals which allowed you to “hear” color and “see” sound just as Mary does when she listens to music. She also composed a brand new set of pieces which were premiered at this concert. Below are two different 360 music videos from the show.
  • Stories Under the Stars 2017: Planet Tales /// This was our second collaboration with Ari Daniel where we combine live storytelling, radio, and live music to tell personal stories. We focused on true stories (some astronomy-related, some not) that explored the theme of “Planet Tales”. Each story involved a different planet, spinning off stories of discovery, deep loss, and forgiveness. I think it was a moving experience since it weaved together science and personal stories into a potent blend.
  • The Boston Choral Ensemble: Cosmos /// The Boston Choral Ensemble continued their 16th season by returning to the planetarium for a three evening run of performances. We paired astronomy visuals to match the different songs which the choir performed live. Music by Ēriks Ešenvalds, Randall Stroope, Ola Gjeilo, and other composers. The concert also included the world premiere of a new work by Stacy Garrop.
  • MassArt: Uncharted Domain /// During the spring semester at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, students created a fulldome show and then premiered it in the planetarium. The show explores the topics of memory, transformation, and the outsider. In less than 5 months the students collaborated on all aspects of storytelling, concept development, video shoots, surround sound design, and 4k fulldome production.
  • Beyond the Telescope: A Universe of a Different Color /// Pink planets and green galaxies? Is space really so colorful? Kimberly Kowal Arcand, visualization lead for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, shared her thoughts of the universe in different parts of the spectrum and what can be found when we look beyond what human eyes can see.
  • Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys /// For a special Halloween performance, we invited these local legends to come back to the planetarium for an epic show. This was one of my favorite events of the year since their music is top-notch, creating the dome visuals is a blast, and their performance energy brings everything together into an grand immersive experience.

SXSW Panel

We traveled to South by Southwest 2017 to present a session: Making a Live Storytelling Show for a Planetarium. We shared behind the scenes of a show we had produced called Stories Under the Stars 2016: Light in the Dark which featured a mashup of live storytelling, radio, and music among the immersive visuals of the dome. The theme was Light in the Dark — a search for light from the outer reaches of our universe to the inner reaches of the human heart. In the SXSW session we shared about development of the show, performed excerpts, and discussed how to create moments of tenderness, learning, and awe. The panel format worked well since creating a immersive storytelling experience required diverse skill sets and so each person had a unique perspective on what they thought was challenging and interesting.

We released three shorts from Stories Under the Stars 2016. So far we’ve been showing these dome pieces at planetarium conferences, but we also made VR versions which can be seen below.

  • Orange Sky /// A childhood memory of a particular orange-hued sky leads Amal Rahmeh on a search for that color years later.
  • Illuminating the Universe /// Light has been a defining feature of our universe since the very beginning. In fact, at first, that’s all there was.
  • Blue Wash of Light /// When is it that we see our first glimmer of light – the instant we’re born and we tumble into the world, or at some other moment?

Uncharted Domain – MassArt 2017: Fulldome Show

During the 2017 Spring semester at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, students explored the topics of memory, transformation, and the outsider. In less than 5 months these students collaborated on all aspects of storytelling, concept development, video shoots, surround sound design, and 4k fulldome production.

It’s amazing what these students were able to create within one semester!
Due to the success of the previous 2015 and 2013 MassArt shows, we decided to work again with MassArt to bring art students into the planetarium. This semester the course was taught by Eric Freeman & Chico Colvard. Special thanks to Dan Callahan & Michael Dunne as the TA’s. Together they all did an incredible job of enabling the students to be creative within the huge technical hurdles.

Students: Camille Hinsey-Langlais, Chloe Dubois, Emily Quinlivan, Wren Quinn, Aven Paquette, Sam Aprea, Kelli Davies, Dylan Soulard
Media Production Instructor: Eric Freeman
Storytelling Instructor: Chico Colvard
Teaching Assistants: Dan Callahan, Michael Dunne
Special Thanks: Jason Fletcher, Nita Sturiale

Domemasters Freely Available

  • Available for planetarium use. Please contact me to obtain a download link.
  • 4k domemaster frames, 30fps, 5.1 surround & stereo audio
  • 2k MP4
  • 1k MP4

Terms: permission to freely screen to the public in planetariums as you see fit. You must screen the short in full and unedited. Not to be used in other shows without permission.


Conferences & Festivals
— HUBweek 2017, Swissnex Dome (Boston, MA)
— HUBweek 2018, Immersive Dome (Boston, MA)

International Planetariums
— Eugenides Planetarium (Athens, Greece)
— Mark Rutherford School, Portable Planetarium (Bedford, UK)
— Portable Planetarium (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
— Iziko South African Museum, Iziko Planetarium (Cape Town, South Africa)
— Museo Laberinto de las Ciencia y las Artes, Planetarium (San Luis Potosi, Mexico)
— National Kinmen Senior High School, Planetarium (Kinmen, Taiwan)
— Portable Planetarium (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

USA Planetariums
— Museum of Science, Charles Hayden Planetarium (Boston, MA)
— Amber Dust Dome, Burning Man (Black Rock City, NV)
— Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)

— ESO Fulldome Archive

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.

Keith Ellenbogen is an acclaimed underwater photographer and videographer who focuses on environmental conservation. Ellenbogen documents marine life to showcase its beauty and to elicit an emotional connection to the underwater world. He aims to inspire social change and action toward protecting the marine environment.

Over the past few years, Ellenbogen has collaborated with MIT theoretical physicist Allan Adams who is focuses on the intersection of art, science, and cutting-edge technology. During his residency, they worked with Edgerton Center Associate Director Jim Bales to explore new high-speed photography and other underwater imaging techniques. They also developed an ‘Underwater Conservation Photography’ course taught at MIT and challenged students to push technical and aesthetic boundaries in the pursuit of compelling images of marine conservation.

Domemasters Freely Available

  • The Reefs of Belize, Still Shot 1, and Still Shot 2 are available for planetarium use. Please contact me to obtain a download link.
  • 4k domemaster frames, 30fps, stereo audio
  • 2k MOV or MP4
  • 1k MOV or MP4

Terms: permission to freely screen to the public in planetariums as you see fit. You must screen the short in full and unedited. Not to be used in other shows without permission.

Behind the Scenes

Allan and Keith approached the Museum of Science’s planetarium team because of its expertise in 360° video. It was a perfect meeting of minds and collaboration started immediately to fully test the equipment and plan for the dive. 360° video is very challenging to begin with and it’s even more difficult underwater, so I’ve documented some of the important things we learned.

From the very beginning we were aiming to use the immersive scuba footage for a live lecture in the planetarium. It was only after throwing this event that we realized other planetariums and the VR community might be interested. We should note that this was our first underwater project and we have learned a ton along the way. So some of the shots are a little shaky, lighting isn’t ideal, footage contrasty, and no underwater audio was recorded. Shooting underwater is difficult and you simply cannot improvise with shot techniques in the same way as a 360° shoot on land. But that’s hindsight and so we decided to share the best shots edited into a short film, even if it doesn’t reach the high bar we’ve set for ourselves. Because what’s the use of it keeping it private? We are proud of this project and hope it can inspire others to remember the hidden beauty of the ocean.

360Abyss-RigBut you might be wondering, how do you capture underwater 360° video? It’s possible through the use of 6 GoPro cameras and the specially designed 360Rize 360Abyss scuba rig. Since it’s going underwater, it needs to be watertight and also use domes for the camera porthole due to water refraction.

Prior to the expedition, we needed to test the 360° camera rig underwater and preferably not just in an old bucket. Luckily Keith is good friends with the New England Aquarium and so our first tests were within the Giant Ocean Tank, a gigantic cylindrical aquarium in the center of the aquarium. We were instantly excited about the results. During this time students were practicing shooting still photography within an olympic-size pool.

There are so many worrying factors when pairing scuba diving with photography. You need to keep track of oxygen levels, focus and expose your camera, be careful of sea life, keep the group together, track the boat, and the list goes on. So being prepared mentally, physically, and technically is important.

Glover’s Reef Research Station

Their expedition took them to the Glover’s Reef Research Station in Belize, which is operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society. They worked with the research station staff to carefully dive in the conserved coral reefs and shoot underwater photography. The WCS mission is to save wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. They envision a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth.

Glover’s Reef is a partially submerged atoll located off the southern coast of Belize, approximately 45km from the mainland. It forms part of the outermost boundary of the Belize Barrier Reef. It harbors one of the greatest diversity of reef types in the western Caribbean. A large spawning site for the endangered Nassau grouper is located at the northeastern end of the atoll. It has been identified as one of only two viable sites remaining for the species, of nine originally known locations. In 2002, it was declared a special marine reserve, permanently closed to fishing.


A co-production by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Charles Hayden Planetarium, Museum of Science, Boston

Underwater 360º Photography:
Keith Ellenbogen – MIT CAST Visiting Artist / Assistant Professor Photography SUNY/FIT
Allan Adams, Associate Professor – MIT Dept of Physics

Stitched and edited by Jason Fletcher
Charles Hayden Planetarium, Museum of Science

Special Thanks:
The MIT Edgerton Center and Jim Bales
The Roy Little Fund at MIT
The MIT Alumni Class Fund
Wildlife Conservation Society, Glover’s Reef Research Station, Belize


Conferences & Festivals
— Immersive Film Festival 2017 (Espinho, Portugal)
— Bauhaus Exhibition 2017, Bauhaus University Weimar (Weimar, Germany)
— Further Fest 2017 (Nashville, TN)

International Planetariums
— ESO Supernova Planetarium (Garching, Germany)
— Portable Planetarium (Karnataka, India)
— Portable Planetarium (Huelva, Spain)
— Melbourne Planetarium, Scienceworks (Melbourne, Australia)
— CCAF Observatory & Planetarium (Farra d’Isonzo, Italy)
— Pro Planetario Movel (Curitiba, Brazil)
— Hidden Horizons Dome (Yorkshire, England)
— University of the Free State – Naval Hill Planetarium at the Centre for Earth & Space (Bloemfontein, South Africa)
— Ulsan National Science Museum, Planetarium (Ulsan, South Korea)
— Metaspace Planetarium (Seoul, Korea)
— Space Trek Global (India)
— Havayeda Science Center, Portable Planetarium (Bat Yam, Israel)
— Gyeongsangnamdo Institute of Science Education (Jinseong-myeon, South Korea)
— Atmasfera360 Planetarium (Kiev, Ukraine)
— imseCAVE, University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
— Heavens of Copernicus Planetarium, Centrum Nauki Kopernik (Warszawa, Poland)
— Eugenides Planetarium (Athens, Greece)
— Mark Rutherford School, Portable Planetarium (Bedford, UK)
— Portable Planetarium (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
— Planetário Divino Mestre (Jaboatão dos Guararapes, Brazil)
— Portable Planetarium (Brazil)
— Utazó Planetárium Kft (Budapest, Hungary)
— Mantas do Brasil, Portable Planetarium (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
— Planetário Divino Mestre (Jaboatão dos Guararapes, Brazil)
— Stellarium Erkrath Planetarium, Sternwarte Neanderhöhe Hochdahl (Erkrath, Germany)
— Vedic Science Center – Temple of the Vedic Planetarium (Mayapur, India)
— Schulsternwarte und Planetarium, Sigmund Jähn (Rodewisch, Germany)
— Takween Wonder Ship (Cairo, Egypt)
— Portable Planetarium (Moscow, Russia)
— Portable Planetarium (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

International Full Sphere Theaters
— Space 360, Gwangju National Science Museum (Gwangju, South Korea)

USA Planetariums
— Museum of Science, Charles Hayden Planetarium (Boston, MA)
— Slippery Rock University Planetarium (Slippery Rock, PA)
— Ho Tung Visualization Laboratory & Planetarium (Hamilton, NY)
— Collier County Public Schools, Portable Planetarium (Naples, FL)
— The College of Southern Nevada, Planetarium (Las Vegas, NV)
— Dreyfuss Planetarium, Newark Museum (Newark, NJ)
— Sam Houston State University Planetarium (Huntsville, Texas)
— Wynwood Dome (Miami, FL)
— Manheim Township Planetarium (Lancaster, PA)
— Valdosta State University Planetarium (Valdosta, GA)
— Peterson Planetarium, Emporia State University (Emporia, KS)
— David M. Brown Planetarium (Arlington, VA)
— Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium (St Johnsbury, VT)
— Amber Dust Dome, Burning Man (Black Rock City, NV)
— Santa Fe Children’s Museum, Portable Planetarium (Santa Fe, NM)
— Fredonia Observatory, State University of New York at Fredonia (Fredonia, NY)
— Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Prescott, AZ)

— ESO Fulldome Archive
— Dome Club (UK)
— British Fulldome Institute
— Kosmos Scientific de México
— British Fulldome Institute
— Spitz: Scidome Network

Fisheye to Spherical Conversion using After Effects


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.

If you’re wondering… the terms Spherical, Equirectangular, and LatLong refer to the EXACT same thing.

Tutorial using After Effects without plugins

— This technique is a hack and the warping isn’t ideal for all occasions. Yet it really depends on whether your fisheye lens is equidistant or equisolid angle. Equidistant fisheye lenses can get a near perfect conversion using this technique. But equisolid angle fisheye lenses are unique and therefore this technique cannot provide an accurate conversion. The technique still works for equisolid angle fisheye lenses but parts of the image will look slightly stretched or squashed vertically when viewed in VR or Youtube 360. For instance, the SP360 4k camera has an equisolid angle fisheye lens and yet it’s the camera I used in this tutorial and achieved decent results. On that note, I actually haven’t been able to confirm from any official Kodak specs that the SP360 4k camera indeed uses a equisolid angle fisheye lens, but it seems pretty obvious when comparing renders from this After Effects technique against the ‘Pixpro SP360 4k’ warping software.
— You cannot use gaussian blur, sharpen, or such effects since they would create very obvious seams when viewed in VR or Youtube 360. But you could instead use the Skybox 360 Post FX since they are seamless VR effects.
— If you need to adjust the horizon level, then you’ll need to instead use the RE:Lens plugin or Skybox Studio V2 which provides much better controls and proper conversion tools.

DOWNLOAD: Fisheye FOV Guide
required to complete tutorial


Spherical to Fisheye Conversion

Or if you need to convert spherical to fisheye (so it can be watched in a dome) then the same process can be applied in reverse. But you’ll need to scale up the footage to crop out some of the unwanted FOV and unfortunately it’s a lossy conversion since it’s being uprezzed. Also you cannot change the FOV accurately, it’s just a very basic conversion. Although a perfect conversion can be achieved using a plugin from this list.

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

Jackson Hole Science Media Awards 2016

The Jackson Hole Science Media Awards has announced finalists in 22 categories spanning content, program, and craft in the science media field. This competition celebrates the world’s most effective science storytellers and stories. This year’s competition saw more than 500 entries competing for 25 special awards. More than 115 international judges screened an aggregated 2,100 hours in order to select the finalists.

I am pleased to announce that our show From Dream to Discovery: Inside NASA is a finalist within the Immersive Cinema category.

Boston Globe: Write-up on SubSpace Project

Over the last few months we have been focusing on SubSpace Project. This is an experimental playground for developing fresh and original social experiences for adults. Art, science, and technology collide to create a new wave of intelligent nightlife that is provocative and one-of-a-kind. From musical tributes in the Planetarium to performance art installations and beyond, SubSpace Project is an ever-evolving laboratory for Boston’s most intriguing and immersive experiences.

Our current series of experiences is dedicated to amazing musicians such as David Bowie, Prince, Björk, Beyoncé, Radiohead, Tom Waits, and Lady Gaga. And our 3D animators have been creating dome visuals with the aim of making an intense music show experience.

So it was a pleasant surprise when The Boston Globe was interested in writing an article about the work we’ve been doing. Check out the online article written by Sophie Haigney.


“I am in a tunnel of blue light that is also sort of a hurricane. I am approaching its mouth, or its eye. Fish spiral toward me. “I thrive best hermit style, with a beard and a pipe and a parrot on each side,” Björk croons, in the background. Then I am in a watery place where silver orbs are bouncing.”

“Actually, I am in the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science. This show is part of their SubSpace Project, which features dynamic visual interpretations of music. Harnessing the planetarium’s immersive dome-theater space and highly advanced audiovisual technology — usually used for shows like “Moons: Worlds of Mystery” — the staff is now paying tribute to musicians. In this case, it’s Björk, the avant-garde Icelandic singer who has inspired a cult following and even a mid-career survey at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.”

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.

IMERSA 2016: View Presentation Recordings

Select presentations available on the IMERSA Vimeo page. Below are my favs:
How Are Museums & Educators Using VR-AR Today / The VR and AR Explosion
Immersion Expanding: New Opportunities for Immersive Experiences
Challenges and Strategies for Producers
The Future of Immersion
Ambisonics Sound Technology
What’s Never Been Seen: Successful Visualizing for Fulldome Storytelling
Shooting 360 Trials and Successes
Proven Methods for a Faster Render
Visual Immersion for Greater Learning Gains in Digital Domes
Let’s Play: Using Games to Entertain and Educate Audiences in the Planetarium
Real Developments in Virtual Reality

— Jenny Carden / Zenka.org
— Greg Downing / xRez Studio
— Troy Whitmer / Sky-Skan
— Jay Heinz / Morehead Planetarium
— David Merrell / Clark Planetarium
— Ken Ackerman / California Academy of Sciences
— Dan Neafus / Denver Museum of Nature and Science
— Orion McCaw / Roundhouse Productions
— Mark Petersen / Loch Ness Productions
— Jay Lamm / Louisiana Art & Science Museum
— Annette Sotheran-Barnett / Sky-Skan

The Dome Dialogues – Andrew Hazelden

An interview with the man that needs no introduction! Andrew Hazelden and I discuss the many vital production tools that he has been creating for fulldome and VR. We discuss in-depth tools such as: Domemaster3D, PlayblastVR, RocketComp, Domemaster Fusion Macros.

0m 6s – Intro
3m 53s – RocketComp
5m 58s – PlayblastVR
17m 8s – Andrew’s History
20m 14s – Domemaster3D
41m 8s – Domemaster Fusion Macros
1h 27m 41s – Maxwell Render Toolbox

Andrew Hazelden is a visual effects artist and co-founder of Dover Studios. He regularly develops tools, tutorials, and documentation for VR/fulldome production, photography, visual effects, and electronics. He has passion for sharing knowledge and also enjoys writing about hobby experiments he does on the weekends and the tools he uses everyday. A few examples of his wide range of interests include building an underwater ROV, flying a model airplane, compiling a mental ray shader, creating a time-lapse video, or doing stereoscopic 3D photography.

Utilities: Converting Timecode & Frames – Estimate Job Render Time on a Farm

All too often I need to precisely convert between timecode and frames. Or I’ll want a rough time estimate of a render job on the farm. Yet I needed a utility that could allow for intuitive interactivity, GUI creation, and be instantly editable. So I’m using a simple open source solution: Pure Data

Pure Data (aka Pd) is a realtime graphical programming environment which is mainly used in live music performances. But its realtime aspect makes it ideal for my needs. So with some careful planning I applied the math nodes to create tools which automate the conversion process. Basically I’ve created a calculator tailored for animators and filmmakers.

collection of Pd patches

— Requires Pure Data to be installed. (supports: Windows, Mac, Linux)
— It’s easy to use. Just click and drag on the number boxes to input your timecode or frames.

Convert Timecode into Frames /// Convert Frames into Timecode
— Assumes you’re working at 30fps.

Calculate Shot Duration: Input as Timecode or Frames
— Especially useful when adjusting timings between two versions of the animatic and need to figure out the exact amount of time added or removed.
— Assumes you’re working at 30fps.


Estimate Job Render Time on a Farm
— Most useful for estimating the min/max time untill the render is complete. Which is especially important if you’re worried about bottlenecking your farm and need to prioritize for deadlines.

How Does it Work? Lets see the Breakdown
— All the source code is included (within subpatches) and can be edited. So if you’re instead working at 60fps, then you can alter it to your needs.

IMERSA Summit 2016: Presentations We’re Giving

imersa-logo-squareWe are going to be at the upcoming IMERSA Summit and sharing several presentations. With so much that’s been happening lately in the immersive community, it’s bound to be an exciting conference this year. David, Heather, and I will each be on different panels and giving presentations. Hope you can check out what we’ve been working on! More info below.

Panel: Challenges and Strategies for Producers
Thursday, March 17 at 10:45 AM
Update: Watch a video recording of this talk
A team of panelists will discuss questions of importance to producers: What are the biggest obstacles to creating content for immersive media, specifically fulldome? Our panel of producers, with lots of help from the audience, will consider the answers and propose solutions. We want to hear from you! In this lively audience led discussion, we will explore your greatest successes and failures in creating and experiencing immersive media.

— Moderator: David Rabkin (Museum of Science)
— Panelists: Robin Sip (Mirage3D), Annette Sotheran-Barnett (Sky-Skan), Mark Webb (Adler Planetarium), Chris Lawes (Fulldome.pro)

What’s Never Been Seen – Successful Visualizing for Fulldome Storytelling
Thursday, March 17 at 04:15 PM
Update: Watch a video recording of this talk
The script is written. The storytelling is effective. But there are calls for visuals of things that don’t exist yet, or real data representations that have never been visualized. Storytelling for immersive fulldome environments has required producers to take the idea of the “artist concept” to new levels. How do we ensure a successful pipeline between the left-brain expert supplying the input and the right-brain creative implementing the visuals to achieve the desired⎯but most important, accurately told story for the educational goals? Examples of what works… and sometimes what doesn’t.

— Presented by Tom Casey (Home Run Pictures), Jason Fletcher (Museum of Science), Carolyn Sumners (Houston Museum of Natural Science)

Let’s Play: Using Games to Entertain and Educate Audiences in the Planetarium
Saturday, March 19 at 10:15 AM
Update: Watch a video recording of this talk
Experiments with gaming recently done by the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science in Boston, will be presented as well as some plans for the future. We’ll talk about the partnerships we’ve made, the logistics of planning for these events, and some of the technology behind it all. We welcome discussion on what other planetariums have tried, what has worked, and, of course, what hasn’t.

— Presented by Heather Fairweather (Museum of Science)

IMERSA Summit 2016: View Entire Agenda

David Rabkin (Planetarium Director)
Jason Fletcher (Science Visualizer)
Heather Fairweather (Science Visualizer)