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In February, our Digital Dome Director, Ethan Bach will present a workshop at IMERSA Summit in Denver, Colorado. The session is entitled, “Fulldome 101” and will focus on examples and methods for creating in the spherical fulldome theater. Ethan will be joined by UNM ARTS Lab’s Hue Walker and others who bring years of experience and various methods to explore for the digital dome.

The 2012 IMERSA Summit is set to take place 3-5 February 2012 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS). “Learning from our past, Visualizing our future – Winning solutions for the digital dome” is the theme. The two-and-a-half-day Summit is organized by IMERSA (Immersive Media, Entertainment, Research, Science & Arts) – a nonprofit trade group formed in 2008 to boost the adoption and creative application of the digital dome and other immersive media formats.

In the visitor attractions business, digital dome, aka “fulldome,” is getting attention from museums, science centers and theme parks as they transition from film-based systems to digital projection and seek to provide ever-more immersive experiences. Fulldome cinema already boasts a network of more than 1200 permanent and portable domes around the world with the potential for many more. This inherently immersive, medium is being widely adopted in Europe and Asia as well as the US to create great story- based guest experiences, and to leverage trans-media opportunities for entertainment and education in 2D, 3D and 4D.

Within the planetarium community and educational institutions, it is anticipated that virtually all dome theaters will eventually upgrade to digital dome technology. The tendency is either to integrate a fulldome system together with an opto-mechanical starball projector, or to replace the starball altogether. Depending on the size of the theater, the number of projectors in a fulldome system can range from a single fisheye unit to a series of 6, 8 or more, linked and edge-blended.

Digital dome theaters are central to prominent visitor attractions around the world such as City of Dreams in Macau (“Dragons Treasure”); the Adler Planetarium in Chicago (“Deep Space Adventure”); the American Museum of Natural History (Rose Planetarium), Madame Tussauds London (“Marvel Superheroes 3D), Futuroscope in Poitiers, France (“Arthur”) and Universal Studios (“The Simpsons Ride” and “Harry Potter: The Forbidden Journey”) and Griffith Observatory (Centered in the Universe) in Los Angeles to name a few examples. The growing library of fulldome shows includes original custom productions from exhibitors and system providers as well as independent producers. Major special venue distributors such as nWave Pictures, SK Films and National Geographic are also getting into the act and starting to make titles available for digital dome exhibition.

“Because of digital technology, multiple industry sectors are converging, and we have a lot to talk about on the creative side, technology side and the business side,” says IMERSA co-founder Dan Neafus, who is director of the Gates Planetarium. “We’re working to develop standards and specifications and deal with what is called ‘pixel envy.’ Fulldome is pretty far along in terms of animation content, but mainstream filmmakers are eager to see better options for live action photography. When it comes to image acquisition, there are tricks for capturing material in a way that not only optimizes the special projection environment in the dome, but that can maximize the opportunities for cross-platform distribution. Everyone wants to see more viable business models for production, distribution and exhibition and not repeat previous mistakes.

I regret to inform you all that DomeFest 2011 has been canceled due to pressing research that is taking place. Please stay tuned for more information for the planning of DomeFest 2012.


CONTACT: George Fleenor
GeoGraphics Imaging & Consulting

7803 25th Ave W.
Bradenton, FL 34209
Phone: (941) 920-0246
Fax: (941) 794-6877


Bradenton, Florida – September 7, 2011

Fulldome FX (Troy McClellan) and GeoGraphics Imaging (George Fleenor) partnered to cover the last space shuttle mission, STS 135 -Atlantis. Collected was an assortment of images and sequences representing events such as the Rollover, Rollout, Pad Crawls, Launch, Landing and Tow Back. We are making these available to all planetariums free of charge. The images and sequences will be available in PNG format at 2400 and 1024 resolutions. Each facility will need to adjust brightness, contrasts etc., for their specific systems. The collection of images will be released as zip files and made available as they are readied for distribution.

Images can be downloaded from these sites:

GeoGraphics Imaging

Fulldome FX

The first zip folder contains 36 still images that are part of, in most cases, longer sequences that will be released later. As part of this download is an image from the launch of STS 133 as viewed from the Press Site, as well as, an inside shot of the Press Room. We included the STS 133 image since it was the last shuttle launch that had a clear blue sky and no clouds.

Please check back with these sites for additional downloads. The images are for in-house use only. If any planetarium/Planetarian wishes to include them in a distributed show they must first obtain written permission from GeoGraphics Imaging.

We hope you can use and enjoy them.

– END –

reposted from the fulldome yahoo group.

The Institute of American Indian Arts New Media Arts department had 6 students and one faculty mentor work at NASA Kennedy Center for ten weeks this past summer. The images are downloading now and we can’t wait to see them on the dome!

Digital Dome @ IAIA recently launched our own webpages as part of the Institute of American Indian Arts website. Here you will find more information about the dome, view a listing of courses and workshops, link to all of our social media sites, and you can request a demonstration for when you are in the Santa Fe area.

We will be expanding the webpages to include artist in residency applications, collaboration proposal applications, and more. Check it out!

Domefest is back this year and Digital Dome @ IAIA will be an active part. We are happy to announce that we have been working with David Beining at ARTS Lab UNM to come up with comprehensive programming for the Digital Dome @ IAIA. As it stands now, Digital Dome @ IAIA will a host a simulcast of the Domefest juried shows here in Santa Fe while they also play at the LodeStar planetarium in Albuquerque. We will also give a presentation at the LodeStar planetarium on the use of culture and art in the fulldome and host software and hardware demonstrations at our unique fully articulating dome.
Domefest will take place October 14 – 16, 2011 in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico
We will be sure to post more information as if becomes available.

This fall, Ethan Bach will teach Digital Dome Production I  at the Digital Dome at IAIA.

Course Description:
Get in on the cutting-edge of this new technology while learning how to use the DigitalSky software, create panorama and fisheye images, and learn the history, present, and future of the digital dome. This course requires a willingness to experiment, research, take risk and break new ground. From the basics of how to place a still image on the dome to exploring and experimenting with storytelling, installation, and art. Students can work with the dome in various positions utilizing its unique ability to articulate. A public showing of work is required as part of the final project.

The 1 credit colloquial that ran this spring semester was a tremendous hit. Over 15 students took the course and walked away with basic concepts in dome production.This fall, Bach will revisit and build on these concepts in a full 3 credit course in digital dome production. The preliminary course outline can be found below. Non-degree seeking students can sign up for the course beginning on May 16. Instructor permission is required, so make sure to send email to prior to attempting to register or if you have questions.

For information on how to register visit or call 505-424-2300.

The course information is as follows:
NMAD351 Digital Dome Production I   Tuesdays/Thursdays  9:30am – 12pm.
Fall 2011 runs August 22 – December 9.

There is still plenty of room, as many IAIA students wait until after pre-reg to register. Please feel free to invite friends and colleges to this course.

Course Outline
Week 1

Review Syllabus and Introductions
History of Immersive Art
History of the Geodesic Dome
Future of the Digital Dome
View existing dome content

Week 2
DigitalSky Software – placement and previsualization
Students bring in existing work to place on the dome
Placing Images on the dome
File Formats and Resolution
Midterm project assigned

Week 3
Project 1: 360° Panorama
History of panoramic photography
Stitching the pano

Week 4
View student panos
Students pitch midterm projects
Making masks for dome projects

Week 5
Project 2: Fisheye
Fisheye Photography and Video
Fisheye lenses and digital fisheye effects

Week 6
View student fisheye
Experiments in the Digital Dome
Artist Lecture

Week 7
How to run a dome show
preview midterm projects and critique

Week 8
Midterm presentations

Week 9
Project 3: Surround Sound: Surround Sound recording and editing
Final project assigned
How to use the Digital Dome as installation
Artist Lecture

Week 10
Listen to student surround sound projects
Project 4: Video on the dome: issues and work arounds
Students pitch Final Project

Week 11
View student videos
Planning the end of semester show
Color Correction and Contrast: FCP Color and Photoshop

Week 12
Work on final projects
Making the fulldome Master

Week 13
preview final projects and critique

Week 14
Work on final projects

Week 15

K. Bibliography of Course Development:

Fulldome Blog by Hugh Walker.

What the Hell is Fulldome (video) by domefest.

Introduction to the Fulldome Master (video) by Chabot Space and Science Center

Hue’s Beginner’s Guide to Fulldome Production

by Hue Walker

How to Create for the Digital Dome by Ethan Bach

Other required readings will be provided by the instructor.

L. Adequacy of Library Holdings in This Area

-Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook

– What Sound Does A Color Make? by Kathleen Forde

-360 Degree Imaging: The Photographers Panoramic Virtual Reality Manual by Phillip Andrews

– Shivers Down Your Spine: Cinema, Museums, and the Immersive View (Film and Culture Series) by Alision Griffiths

– Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion by Oliver Grau

– Future Cinema: The Cinematic Imaginary After Film by Jeffrey Shaw

Also, the library has a collection of materials related to Native American storytelling traditions, both general and tribally specific.  There is also a thorough collection of Native American, First Nations and Alaska Native history materials in multiple formats, which can be used as background research and creative inspiration.  Films made by Native filmmakers are also actively collected and available for use by students.

On March 16, 2011 UNM ARTSlab, Santa Fe Complex (sf_x) and the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) shared our NSF PFI fulldome research at the Digital Dome @ IAIA in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The event was sf_x’s WedTech, a weekly semi formal presentation that usually occurs at the Santa Fe Complex.

Excepts of our annual report along with images from this public presentation are below.

Development of a software API for dome development
Team leader: Dr. Joe Kniss (Advanced Graphics Lab) Partners: AGL, ARTS Lab
Dr. Joe Kniss led a team of graduate students (Jeff Bowles, Matthew Dosanjh, Vahid Normoofidi, Andrei Buium) to develop an OpenGL software platform that would allow real-time rendering on curved surfaces. The basic idea of the software was to take a typical OpenGL application and intercept the rendering code to render to an off-screen buffer instead of the screen, as it would normally render. This off-screen buffer was then distorted by virtually mapping it to a spherical structure on the graphics hardware, which was used by the GPU to compute what each projector in the dome should display in order for the dome visualization to appear correct to a user standing in the center of the dome. The result was a framework that allowed us to run real-time rendering applications in dome environments without distortion, and all one needed to do was to modify the existing code to have this new rendering path. The project, called DomeGL, was a success and it enabled the students to port several applications to the dome quickly and easily.
Portable dome development

Team leader: Stephen Guerin (SF Complex), David Beining (ARTS Lab) Partners: SF Complex, ARTS Lab, Lumenscape

One of the drawbacks of digital fulldomes as raised in the brainstorming workshop is that they can be expensive and not many people have access to this technology. To this end, the teams from SF Complex and ARTS Lab worked on low-cost, portable dome solutions that would enable more people to experience dome technology.
The Santa Fe Complex (in association with Joe Abraham Dean from Lumenscape) worked on a cloth- based dome that could be easily transported and set up in about a day (Fig. 3). This portable dome has market potential since it allows users to set up dome environments at a relatively small cost.

A cloth dome designed and built at the Santa Fe Complex.    The fabric and structure is very lightweight, making the dome very portable for deployment in remote venues. This allows people who normally would not have access to a full dome to experience full dome content.

Calibration of projectors in multi-surface environments

Team leaders: Dr. Pradeep Sen (Advanced Graphics Lab), Stephen Guerin (SF Complex) Partners: AGL, SF Complex

Domes present an ideal surface onto which to project content because their shape is well known. This allows software such as DomeGL to correct for the aberrations introduced when projecting onto the curved surface in order to display content correctly. When projecting content onto arbitrary surfaces, such as the corner of a room, the problem becomes much harder. The purpose of this part of the project is to calibrate the projector and camera automatically, so that the image viewed from the point-of-view of the camera looks correct despite the distortions introduced by the room environment. This problem was tackled by both teams in AGL (Dr. Sen working with graduate student Vahid Noormofidi) and at the SF
Complex (Stephen Guerin working with Cody Smith, Steve Smith, Bjørn Swenson, August Swanson, Skyler Swanson, Scott Wittenberg).

Binary code patterns projected onto the corner of a room. Each pixel in each picture represents either a 0 or 1 in the camera-to-projector map.

New input devices for navigating virtual environments

Team Leader: Dr. Joe Kniss (Advanced Graphics Lab), David Beining (ARTS Lab) Partners: AGL, ARTS Lab

Dr. Joe Kniss (AGL) demonstrates the skateboard interface that he built along with a set of graduate students and the ARTS Lab team. The skateboard interface allows more intuitive navigation of immersive environments.

Teaching Fulldome Production Courses

Team leaders: Ethan Bach (IAIA), David Beining (ARTS Lab) Partners: IAIA, ARTS Lab

The teams from IAIA and ARTS Lab have built and set up a digital fulldome at IAIA, which is now in operation and being used to train the next generation of dome users how to work with this new technology.  The ARTSLab team is offering a course focusing exclusively on immersive media and interactive visualization. The purpose of this course is to teach students at UNM about the exciting applications that are being enabled through fulldome technology, and the students have the opportunity to put together dome content themselves as part of the course.

A wide-angle picture of the IAIA dome suspended in the air. The IAIA dome is designed to be rotated and lifted up and down, which allows it to be used in a wide variety of configurations and for a wide range of immersive applications.

Photo by John Hagen

Today in the course, Creating for the Dome, we did something amazing with the dome. I could not say it felt more immersive than a couple weeks ago when we lowered the dome almost all the way to the floor, climbed underneath, and walked fulldome movies while we lay on our backs. That was pretty cool. This had the same visual and aural immersive feeling, but with an element of vastness like looking over the Grand Canyon. We placed the dome at 90° and rolled out the portable stairs.

The top of the stairs lined up with the zenith of the dome. One person at a time would go to the top of the stairs to have a unique view of the immersive environment. It was fascinating to be that close to the high-resolution image – to see the detail in color as the moving image as it literally engulfed each person.

See the images below of students enjoying this experience. I especially like the photo of Aaron Natewa standing in the middle of the work he created for the dome.

immerisve media

Student Aaron Natewa really gets into his work.

For the weekend, I grabbed IAIA’s new Sunex SuperFisheye with the Canon T1i  and the  Panasonic AG-AF100 for creating tests for the digital dome. A buddy and I headed to La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site just outside of Santa Fe.

fulldome tests

fulldome test