When in Dome…

The Morehead Planetarium & Science Center Production Blog

Archive for December, 2010

We’re outta here. See you next year!

Have it both ways

December 16, 2010 | 1 Comments | When in Dome

With this next project, we’re trying something a little unconventional. Something to try and spice things up a bit. As if generating fulldome content weren’t difficult enough?

One of the problems we ran into using a toon shader is that it doesn’t accept lighting color information or calculate shadows very well.

So, by taking a color pass and a grey scale pass you can combine them and season to taste.

The final test result is what you see here.

The wrap deformer was something that I didn’t learn about while I was going to school, but instead something I only learned about recently. It is an incredibly useful tool that can help add an extra dimension to characters and animation.

What the wrap deformer essentially is (atleast to my untrained eye in character rigging), is a way to have geometry influence an object seperate from it. It’s influence is based on proximity. What it effects is not the object as a whole, but the vertices; or in this particular case the lattice of another object.

This is an example of an eye from a character in our new show. The details on how wraps work exactly would be best read in the book I linked too in an earlier post:

Which you can find here

And here’s how it looks without a wrap:

What a difference!

Once you start to use the process it becomes quicker to make. Some important things to remember is that the object which is the deformer will not render, so it’s good to have a second head as the deformer, and make it affect a blendshape to go to the real eye.

This of course isn’t just limited to eyes but also teeth and anything else you can think of that you want to add some motion too.

We’re looking for a local (North Carolina – Triangle area) Maya character animator for a 3 month freelance gig starting January 15th. We’d like someone who is/has:

  • fluent in Autodesk Maya
  • facial animation and lip sync skills
  • solid understanding of animation principals (Arcs, Anticipation, Timing, etc.)
  • open to changes in direction when needed
  • team player
  • detail oriented
  • If you have all that and rigging experience, it’ll put you over the top.

    If you’re interested, please email me at jayheinz@unc.edu with a copy of your resume and a link to your portfolio.  You’ll need to work on-site in our secret lair, so brush up on your ninja skills.

    With each production we learn a little more about the trends in the industry. One thing that has made itself clear is that tilted domes require consideration when picking the sweet spot for viewing fulldome video. You want the bulk of your content to show up in or around this sweet spot. If something is produced for a flat dome, the sweet spot would be about 45 degrees up from the spring line, and the horizon just visible around 5 degrees. This works nicely to create a natural feeling as viewers sit back and experience the content in a flat dome.


    However, if you take that same content and place it in a tilted dome the audience feels as though they’re perpetually looking down a hill, and creates a kind of mental confusion that breaks the immersion.

    In order to resolve this problem, we shift everything up about 15-20 degrees. This creates a natural feeling for most tilted domes, and doesn’t disrupt the viewing experience of flat dome viewers when they sit back in tilted chairs.

    To help us keep this in mind we created an overlay to use while viewing our animatics to make sure we don’t stray too far from the ideal sweet spot and framing of content.