Cycle – Fulldome Short

Cycle is a short fulldome piece which uses timelapse photography to reveal the majesty of Earth’s natural environments. It’s a subtle meditation on how a small shift in our perception of time can heighten our awareness of the intricate ecosystem surrounding us. The cycle emerges.

Prior to teaching the MassArt 2015 course, Eric wanted to get more in-depth experience with fulldome production. So he spent the summer camping and shot a bunch of beautiful timelapse photography with a fisheye lens. Then he selected the best timelapse shots, did some tests in the dome, composed the music in 5.1 surround, and edited together this stunning piece for the dome.

Eric Freeman is an electronic music producer, multi-instrumentalist, photographer and video artist. In his music production, Eric weaves together elements of world, electronic, and experimental sounds to create a sonic landscape accompanied by visuals. His recent video work is a combination of light painting photography and time lapse.

Shot with a Canon 6D, Canon 8-15mm lens, and a Kessler parallax motorized rail system.

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The Unknown Between – MassArt 2015: Fulldome Show

During the 2015 Spring semester at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, students explored the topic of hypnagogia. In less than 5 months these students collaborated on all aspects of storytelling, concept development, surround sound design, and 4k fulldome production to create an immersive experience which explores the moment between wakefulness and sleep.

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Sentient – MassArt 2013: Fulldome Show

During the 2013 Spring semester at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, students explored the topic of consciousness. In less than 5 months these students collaborated on all aspects of storytelling, concept development, sound design, and fulldome production to create an immersive experience which explores the creative, perceptive, and unexplored mind.

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360° Video Fundamentals

I’ve long been excited of the possibility of 4k video in a planetarium dome. And so I was captivated with the recent introduction of a 360° video camera rig with 8192×4096 resolution. (Which translates to 4k domemaster resolution.) It also meant that I could increase the fisheye FOV from 180° to 220° and see the immediate ground surrounding the camera. In my opinion this makes for a heightened immersion experience. So I have spent the last two months experimenting and learning directly about the intricacies of shooting 360° video.

The 360Rize PRO10HD is a 3D printed object. Meaning it’s one solid piece of plastic that is precisely engineered to fit 10 GoPro cameras into the smallest possible space. It’s printed using aircraft grade plastic, so it’s durable and has been through a strenuous bend test to prove it’s strength over time.

Currently the 360° video community is tiny and little documentation is available. So I was on my own to figure out the potential problems, shooting subtleties, and overall workflow. This can be a tedious and nerve-wracking process. After all, with 10 GoPro cameras shooting in unison, something is bound to go wrong at some point. So alas, plan within plans within plans, theorize contingencies, and take notes of your experience. And now for you brave souls remaining, below are my own findings, tips, and thoughts.

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Jupiter Bands Simulation

Just a few days ago, I found out about a MIT competition called The Art of Astrophysics. Naturally my interest was piqued. The only problem was the deadline… 24 hours!

As a back burner project I’ve been experimenting with creating jupiter cloud bands that are truly fluidic. It’s very difficult to keep the multiple bands separate, so I’ve been testing the interaction between just two bands. The Kelvin–Helmholtz instability is a fascinating topic to focus on, but it’s heavy to simulate and difficult to predict.

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Background Stars v2

example_render(This post is an update to Background Stars v1. It will provide some context.)

A while back I shared a ‘star globe’ which has the night sky mapped onto a sphere. This can be used to completely surround a maya scene with stars. Andrew Hazelden and I often collaborate on various fulldome projects and he had an idea of how to re-engineer the star globe into requiring only 1 surface and 1 file texture. This allows for a vast improvement in rendertime. For instance:
— 4-poly & 4 texture star globe – 1m 40s
— 1-poly & 1 texture star globe – 30s

A bunch of other improvements are included:
— Fixes the grey blurry line glitch since it uses a Mental Ray texture network.
— A 2k texture for previewing in the Maya viewport. Then 8k texture used for renders.
— Other lights in the scene will not affect the star globe.
— Star globe never casts shadows.
— Star globe will automatically show up in reflections & refractions.
— Renders faster since the 1 texture needs much less initialization and poly is reduced.
— Here is a detailed explanation of these things are achieved.

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maya scene (using mental ray, redshift, vray, maya software) – star globe

starglobe_screenshot_20131113

The Nebula Challenge

One of the most difficult types of space imagery to create is a volumetric nebula. There are three main styles of nebulae to imitate: diffuse nebulae, planetary nebulae, and supernova remnants. The fluid framework within Maya is extremely flexible but it can be very tricky to just get a fluid/emitter set up with settings that are repeatable.

So to ease the cumbersome setup, below is a maya scene for the interactive creation of a fluid nebula. While experimenting with the attributes it’s important to have a real nebula reference image in mind; or else you’ll just continue tweaking attributes without any real measure of when it’s done. With fluids it’s quite easy to run down endless rabbit holes… There are just so many attributes that are interlocked. But it’s not impossible to tame fluids, you just need to have a goal in mind.

The nebula maker template is initially set up to have the look of a supernova shell because it’s actually more useful to experiment with. But I’ll share how to adjust the opacity ramp to create a diffuse nebula.

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House of Mirrors

Creating the sense of an huge expansive space is a challenge in 3D animation. But if we use mirrors and some trickery then we can create a vast beautiful illusion. The trick is to use structural beams to hide the mirrors edges. This creates a seemingly unending structural lattice. An infinite jungle gym!

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maya scenes (using mental ray) – cube, sphere, dodecahedra (flat & curved)

mirror-infinite-space-fisheye

house-of-mirrors-cube-sphere-dodecahedra

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Customizing a Close-Up Sun

Have you ever wanted to fly up close to a sun? To see those dynamic boiling details, shimmering corona, and mesmerizing surface textures patterns… But creating an animated volumetric sun with all these attributes is quite difficult.

It turns out that you can constrain a Maya fluid into a sphere. But the fluid system is tricky to work with since there are so many different attributes to explore and figure out their intertwined relationships. So it’s important that you already have in mind the type of star you want to create. Otherwise you’ll end up tweaking details endlessly without any basis for when it’s finished.

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