We seem to have achieved a critical mass at this point (meaning I've
noted the names of most of the people I *expected* to join the mailing
list), so I'd like to get the ball rolling with the first actual
First off, I'd like to welcome everybody (all 43 of you) and thank you
for your interest in the mailing list. I hope you had a chance to read
over what I wrote as a description for the purpose of the group: it appears
on the list's website at http://www.egroups.com/group/fulldome,
the emailed description you received should have gone into greater detail.
I invite anyone who's interested to provide feedback on that statement,
either by emailing me directly or starting a thread on the listserve.
I thought I would outline a few of the topics I see the group addressing,
perhaps with the net effect of inspiring a few more people to post their
When you get right down to it, the nuts and bolts of full-dome systems
have a very real effect on all our lives. Although I despise having
had to learn about CRT projectors, video compression, and the like,
I also know that it helps me understand the system more intimately and
use it more effectively. Since there aren't many of us out there, and
we're all using technology that's in various versions of beta, we need
to share stories, ideas, problems, and successes.
I see this covering everything from computer animation packages to laser
video projection technology to
I see several challenges in this arena. We are dealing with extremely
powerful technology here in terms of the impact it can have on an audience.
To maximize the impact, we need to think about what actually takes place
from the viewer's perspective. We'd all better be thinking about the
visual quality of our product... So what are we thinking. and how are
our audiences responding?
I'm particularly interested in audience responses to different events
on the dome. How do people react when an object explodes in front of
them? Off to the side? How 'bout if a spacecraft flies in from behind
the audience? Slowly? Quickly? Do audiences require a certain reaction
time to enjoy an effect or do they refer being blind-sided? Is anyone
surveying audiences on these topics?
There's a technological component to this area, too, however: for example,
all full-dome systems in use right now (that I know of) use multiple CRT
projectors and some kind of edge-blending (software or hardware). Yet I've
never heard much discussion of gammas or color spaces that minimize the
appearance of seams on the dome. Maybe the solution lies in the edge-blending
technology, certainly in the choice of imagery, and probably in some
combination of the two.
3. Programmatic Concerns
Most of us are using our systems to educate (n.b. Claudio Veliz is not
a member of this list, so I hope we can all agree on that term, "educate").
Most of us also need to sell tickets to survive. We need to share thoughts
on what works and what doesn't in terms of content, marketing, and finances.
I know Carolyn Sumners has presented a few papers on the effect that
full-dome video has had on attendance and income at the Houston Museum
of Natural Science. Sharing that kind of data helps the rest of us assess
what we can do to help support our institutions and our programs.
Other questions... How do you advertise your full-dome system? How do
you plan to pay from programming? Does your institution plan to develop
imagery, models, and/or sequences for the technology?
Okay, not all of "us" are the "we" and the "us" to whom I've been referring
above. So, for those who are thinking of investing in full-dome video,
or for those who've signed contracts... What's on your mind? What concerns
do you have making the leap into this new technology? And how can those of
us "in the biz" help out?
Always one of *my* favorite topics. Is full-dome technology another tool
in the planetarium arsenal or is it a paradigm shift in domed theaters?
Neither? Or is it both? Perhaps we're transitioning from one to the
other... What does the digital quality of the medium mean for institutions
using it? When we buy a program from another facility, should we insist
upon the right to tailor it to our own? In a postmodern era, should we
resolutely maintain the integrity of the product we create, or should we
allow others to modify the content as they see fit?
I hope these odds and ends can stimulate some discussion -- and some
posts! We'll see some traffic soon, eh?
Ryan Wyatt, Director of Theaters wyatt@...
LodeStar Astronomy Center
New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science
1801 Mountain Road NW 505.841.5975 vox
Albuquerque, NM 87104 505.841.5999 fax