When in Dome…

The Morehead Planetarium & Science Center Production Blog

Archive for August, 2011

When we started this project over a year ago, I had a very limited knowledge of Autodesk Maya, and was primarily a 3ds Max user. We made the commitment to do a character driven show so I had to learn this new tool, and I don’t think I could have if it hadn’t been for the training materials we got from Digital Tutors.

 

I started with their intro to maya DVD set and then moved on from there into more complex and production specific tutorials.

 

In Solar System Odyssey I had to make a space ship, terrains, eruptions, rocket exhaust, explosions, and even a futuristic Mega City full of flying traffic.

I hope to address how most of these effects were created in the coming weeks with more blog posts. For the mean time if you haven’t checked out www.digitaltutors.com I would highly recommend them. They offer training on a variety of software platforms.

Now that we’re almost finished with our most recent show, Solar System Odyssey, we’re getting things lined up to start work on our next show. We’ve now produced a science documentary, a cartoon, a horror short and a show based on a best selling children’s book. Now we’re going to make a show featuring…giant puppets. Yeah, we like to keep things interesting.

We’re teaming up with the Paperhand Puppet Intervention, a local giant puppet group, to create a winter season show. Paperhand has a great following in North Carolina and their history began in 1998, when artists Donovan Zimmerman and Jan Burger, working out of an abandoned old gym in Saxapahaw, NC created the group to entertain and engage audiences by animating ancient fables and modern allegories with intricate shadow figures, larger than life creatures and everything in between.

To get a sense of what they’re really about, you’d need to see one of their shows (or hopefully, this planetarium show), but you can get an idea from the trailer to a documentary made about them called “A Puppet Intervention”:

What exactly we’re going to do is a secret, but we’ll be shooting lots of puppets on green screens and creating really amazing environments for them to play in. It’s going to be an interesting show…

We’re finishing up our latest show, Solar System Odyssey, and we’ve just released a teaser trailer on YouTube. Here’s a description of the show and the video:

Our story takes place far in the future with an Earth on the verge of environmental collapse. Billionaire Warren Trout thinks he can make a fortune colonizing the rest of the solar system and sends space pilot Jack Larson to find out where. But there’s one thing he didn’t count on – Ashley, Trout’s daughter, has stowed away on board the ship and has her own ideas. Learn about the solar system and the potential for human life on other planets and moons in a fun and exciting way. Ages 10 and Up. Produced with grant funding from NASA. Running time: 27 minutes

We’ve been really busy cranking away on our latest show, Solar System Odyssey, which we’re due to finish in 2 weeks. So we’ve been neglecting When in Dome a bit. But we’re almost there. Just putting some finishing touches on the visuals and working with master composer Mark Slater to finish up the score (which I’m really excited about). It’s been a year and a half long journey, but we’re finally seeing the light (and a much deserved break)!

Both Solar System Odyssey and our previous show, Magic Tree House: Space Mission are now available from Sky-Skan so go check them out. You can see a trailer and preview of Magic Tree House on Sky-Skan’s site or check out this post.

Stay tuned for a teaser trailer from Solar System Odyssey. I’ll be uploading it soon…