When in Dome…

The Morehead Planetarium & Science Center Production Blog

Archive for December, 2009

fulldomefestival09We just entered our first production, Earth, Moon and Sun, into the 2009 Fulldome Festival at the Zeiss Planetarium in Jena, Germany. This year, they’re allowing full length shows to be entered into the competition. Previously, the competition was limited to shorts under five minutes, just like DomeFest. I seriously doubt our show will dovetail into their theme this year, “Bauhaus-in-the-Stars,” but we’ll give it a shot anyway.

The english version of the site is a bit confusing and has some dated material, so the best place to get clear info about the festival is actually on the Zeiss website here.

We’re working on an experimental short that is designed to help us break the daily grind of working strictly on planetarium shows. The short is intended to be entered at DomeFest. An interesting challenge has arisen as we try to generate a crowd that should ultimately cover the dome surface.

My number one priority was to make sure the object that was to be duplicated thousands of times was as lowpoly as I could get it. LowPoly, reffering to an amout of the shapes known as polygons that define the shape of a computer generated model.

The resulting insect is based upon the anatomy of a pill beetle.

bugRendered

This doesn’t look like much up close, but its intent it to be very small. I was able to make this bug for less than 1000, polys.

bugWireframe

But when you’ve got 5000 on the screen at one time, then you’re talking about close to 5 million polygons, all being animated. The bugs legs and antenna had to move. We couldn’t just have them sliding around being pushed or dragged by some imaginary force. All of that information can cause some instability in the scene, so to make life even easier I worked with smaller crowds and plan to layer them up to appear as one large crowd in the final composite.

This  one bug was duplicated multiple times and simulated in a crowd simulation.


The Following animation is a short test showing a crowd of 500 bugs approaching a dome structure.