Screening at IPS-Macao Fulldome Festival

Our show Moons: Worlds of Mystery has be selected to be a part of the competition screening during the IPS-Macao International Fulldome Festival 2014! So if you’re attending the IPS Conference, then be sure to mark your schedule.

After the festival, we have the added honor of being one of only six productions to continue screening for the public in Macao (6/21 – 7/31) and Beijing (6/28 to 7/31).

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News: IX Symposium, Cinefex on Fulldome, 8k Research, Illustris Simulation

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IX: Symposium on Immersive Creativity

In just a few days this fascinating and first-time conference will begin in Montreal and last for 5 days. Last year I saw the SAT team perform at Immersa 2013, and they were already doing come cutting edge work. So I’m curious to see how this event kicks off.

The IX Symposium will provide an open exchange platform through a series of keynotes, panels, demonstrations, performances and immersive productions. An objective of the symposium is to help democratize access to immersive spaces and to the tools and processes used for the creation of original contents. Another objective is to foster a network facilitating the creation of a community and the circulation of people, ideas, and works. This will help rethink the models of production, the formats, the delivery systems, and the creative processes needed to maintain and nurture an international platform for strong artistic expressions and open innovation.

INT. BUEHNENWERKSTATT & INT. TANZTHEATERFESTIVAL 2014
Shortcuts: An Experimental Dance Film Competition

We are looking for videos, who look at dance through the new medium of 3-dimensional/spherical cinematography. Dance and an experimental approach should be at the center of the work. Focal point of interest should be real filmed scenes and not computer generated and/or animated film sequences.

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Fulldome Interviews: Shane Mecklenburger – Art/Science Course at OSU

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Teaching 3D animation is no simple task. Especially if the center of interest is astronomy and fulldome! So in September 2013, I was asked to teach my astronomy visualization techniques as a visiting artist at OSU.

Shane Mecklenburger is the 3D animation professor of a class called “The End & the Beginning of Everything”, which received a Battelle Endowment. Participating OSU astronomers and astrophysicists paired with the animation students to create a dialogue and help inspire their artwork.

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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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Fulldome Artist in Residence: Call for Applications

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I’m excited to see the launch of a fulldome artist residency to help open up the medium to artists. I’m particularly interested that dome production training is a major part of the training. With so few offered workshops and college classes in the world, it’s difficult to break into the medium on top of all the technical hurdles and getting dome access. The fulldome world is a narrow but growing market and so this is an important resource for allowing artists to experiment on an actual dome. More info below.

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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.

DOWNLOAD
maya scene (using mental ray) – star globe
(also available in the Domemaster3D toolset)

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Cosmic Loops – Dome Visuals for Live Music

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We are working hard on our latest fulldome production show about NASA engineering, but we do try to squeeze some fun projects into the mix. So lately we have been creating some custom dome visuals for an upcoming live music event in the planetarium — Cosmic Loops: Music Beneath the Stars

But there are some interesting challenges in trying to create pre-rendered dome visuals for live music. The musicians supplied the songs they will be playing live, so we at least had an understanding the specific moments to match. We have seen that many entertainment shows try to stay synced to the beat. But we realized that in an immersive space you just want to soak it up the moment of beauty around you. So we have taken a different approach of grandiose scenery with gentle camera moves. We aren’t making a music video but instead an experience where the music and visuals amplify each other. We aspire for goosebumps. For frisson!

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