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And the Survey Says...

June 2011

According to recent surveys, astronomy and science-based shows continue to be the most successful choices for fulldome video. Digital fulldome technology presents great potential to stretch programming into new territory, but creating a production from scratch can stress a budget in this evolving arena. This conundrum has prompted a closer look at how to deal with the sticker shock.

Building Bridges Between Film and Digital Exhibition Helps Planetariums, Museums, Entertainment Venues and Content Creation

Going all digital boosted Vattenfall Planetarium attendance and revenue

“We gave up films completely,” says Kai Santavuori, manager of the Vattenfall Planetarium at Heureka science center in Vantaa, Finland. Vattenfall is part of Heureka’s theatre unit, which is responsible for all the science centre’s audiovisual tasks in addition to the 135-seat planetarium’s operations, development, maintenance and programming. Santavuori’s immediate superior is Lea Tuuli, Director of Communication.Per-Edvin Persson is CEO.

Can small planetariums produce their own fulldome digital content?

Whether you call it tradition or necessity, the fact is that in the planetarium community, especially among the smaller venues, in-house content production is common practice. Upgrading to fulldome digital technology is not going to change the planetarium DIY culture, nor should it.

Even with a skeleton staff and a shoestring budget, a planetarium with a fulldome system has several options for staying in the pilot’s seat when it comes to creating content and customized programming, whether both real-time or pre-rendered, to suit one’s particular audience.

Digital Dome-ocracy: Fulldome Systems are Good News for Science Education

Fulldome projection uses edgeblended projectors or even a single, fisheye lens unit to project digital content onto a dome screen. In the decade or so since fulldome was introduced, this immersive format has transformed the way planetarium shows are produced and the number of installations has grown to nearly 400.

Soon after IPM Magazine asked me to investigate the world of fulldome production, I found myself sprawled out on the floor in the pitch-dark. A tall, gangly figure loomed in my field of view. I had a brief flashback to the years I lived in London - could this be Dr. Who, the British television wizard, come to re-ignite my energy field, rescue me from shape-shifting aliens, or transport me to other worlds?

Enveloping Entertainment: Immersive Digital Cinema Abounds in the Science Museum Community

When it comes to exhibition, science museums have a track record for innovation and experimentation. Up-to-the-minute display technology seems to fit with the questing scientific mindset. It was, for instance, the science center community that adopted giant screen film exhibition starting in the 1970s, recognizing its technological novelty, potential mass appeal and its power to educate, as well as to generate revenue. However, classic giant-screen, 70mm film theaters (IMAX and the like, of the six-story-high screen variety) appear to have run their course; the network of these types of theaters is shrinking along with their audience, and museums are embracing digital video formats.

Enveloping Entertainment: Immersive Digital Cinema Abounds in the Science Museum Community

When it comes to exhibition, science museums have a track record for innovation and experimentation. Up-to-the-minute display technology seems to fit with the questing scientific mindset. It was, for instance, the science center community that adopted giant screen film exhibition starting in the 1970s, recognizing its technological novelty, potential mass appeal and its power to educate, as well as to generate revenue. However, classic giant-screen, 70mm film theaters (IMAX and the like, of the six-story-high screen variety) appear to have run their course; the network of these types of theaters is shrinking along with their audience, and museums are embracing digital video formats. 

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