When in Dome…

The Morehead Planetarium & Science Center Production Blog

Archive for April, 2009

Seeing as 3d software is designed classically for the flat screen, there has yet to be much adaptation to working with 3d in a Fisheye view. So to help us understand what we’re looking at we use a rig that points 5 cameras in different directions. Generally focusing on what happens in the front, left, right and Up cameras. We do think about what should be happening behind the viewer, but it should never be there for very long, as we can’t see through the backs of our heads.

3dMax Workspace

stitch

When I started to model the tree and its magical house for the upcoming digital conversion of Magic Tree House: Space Mission,  I did some research on the internets and found that some of the best-looking trees where going through the ZBrush pipeline.  ZBrush is a powerful sculpting program which works well for organic objects; I’ve seen many great things come out of ZBrush with a level of artistic detail that isn’t so easily or efficiently achieved in Maya.

zspheres Sculpted tree

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Check out the trailer from Morehead’s first digital fulldome planetarium show – Earth, Moon and Sun. It’s targeted at 3rd graders and tackles their misconceptions about those three solar bodies. We’re planning on distrubuting it in this Spring’s through SkySkan and also traveling it across the state of North Carolina and showing it in a 20ft portable dome.


Earth, Moon and Sun Planetarium Show Trailer from moreheadplanetarium on Vimeo.

Old

Creating storyboards in the dome setting is challenging to say the least. Traditional boards can’t quite make the grade in visualizing what the audience will see.

In the first image we see a extreme close-up of our rover traversing the surface of Mars.  I first thought to just board the sweet spot of the dome, where our attention will likely be focused too.  We’re missing a lot of what is seen outside the frame, which can cause many surprises when the animatic phase is reached. To prevent this from happening, it seemed to make most sense to storyboard in the dome medium. Much like using correct aspect ratios for tv or film storyboards, dome boards should be made to reflect the environment they’re presented in. Easier said than done of course. It’s a bit unnatural to draw a fisheye image and takes some time getting used too. It was made easier by having our own test dome to throw Photoshop on and start scribbling away.

Our second image highlights the sweet spot, while the third is without.

NewSweetSpot New

The Chamber

April 6, 2009 | 1 Comments | Gear

Where Awesome has been known to happen.  We welcome you to join us in “The Chamber”.

No dome Studio should be without a dome. The Chamber was built by our own Richard McColman using pre-fabricated Fiberglass dome panels, and some good old hard work.  Its roughly 8′ in diameter and 9′ high.  Using a rather standard projection unit with a not so standard Fisheye Lens projection mount we are able to preview and discuss shot composition for our full dome shows. We’ve even taken to doing story boards using Photoshop drawing directly on the dome surface.

Its equipped with 5.1 surround, has a screen resolution of 1024X768, and sports a wonderful set of sleek gaming chairs.  This dome is even equipped with its own ventilation system to draw out the heat from the projector lens.

Rigged.

April 2, 2009 | No Comments | Gear

Looks like SkySkan and PMW Creative just got together to build a timelapse motion control rig for 4K dome use. Seems to use a Canon 5D MK1 camera with a fisheye lens. The vid looks like something straight out of Baraka.