When in Dome…

The Morehead Planetarium & Science Center Production Blog

I was recently at a non-planetarium, non-fulldome conference for science communicators called ScienceOnline. The attendees that I met, who happened to be mostly scientists, science journalists or pr people, generally didn’t know what I meant when I said I “produced fulldome video.” As many of us have experienced, saying that you make “planetarium shows” doesn’t quite work either because most adults tend to think about pre-digital shows. It’s a good thing I attended a session called “Pimp Your Elevator Pitch” and decided to use it to work on giving a definition of what fulldome is in less than 45 seconds.

Here’s what I ended up with:

Fulldome videos are primarily science documentaries that are projected onto a domed surface, typically in a planetarium. Many fulldome videos deal with astronomy, but other subjects are appropriate for the dome, especially topics or environments that are difficult to experience as a human being, such as deep underwater, inside the human body or in the future. We like to think of a flat screen video as a window into another world but with a fulldome video you can poke your head up inside that world and become immersed within it. Think of a 3D animated movie crossed with IMAX and put it in a planetarium.

Some feedback I got with my original pitch was that I started by saying that they’re “not planetarium shows,” which instantly put the idea of an analog show in people’s minds. I also originally described them as a combination of PIXAR and IMAX in a dome and was told that people in very rural areas might not know what PIXAR or IMAX are. Something to keep in mind.

Any other ideas out there? How have you described “fulldome” to others quickly?

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