AFDI Introduces Next-Generation Fulldome Standards
Michael Daut (E&S), Glenn Smith (Sky-Skan Europe), Per Hemmingsson (SCISS), & Ben Cabut (RSA Cosmos) representing the Association of Fulldome Innovators (AFDI) was founded at the IMERSA Summit in 2014 when representatives of four leading fulldome equipment vendors agreed to meet together to discuss and implement standards for the community.
The founding vendors of AFDI are Evans & Sutherland, Sky-Skan, SCISS, and RSA Cosmos. Since AFDI’s founding, four other supporting equipment vendors have joined AFDI: Zeiss, Goto, Konica-Minolta, and Fulldome.Pro. AFDI is operated under the auspices and supervision of IMERSA. AFDI’s vision is to define and implement shared standards for fulldome technology vendors. AFDI is uniquely positioned to do this, since the members are all vendors that can leverage their experience designing systems to define and implement shared standards into their individual platforms.
To date, AFDI has delivered two significant specifications to the community: 1) metadata specs for the delivery of fulldome shows, and 2) a “universal” MPEG2 2K×2K video encoding specification. Both specs have been published to AFDI standards .
The Metadata Specs were designed to help producers deliver fulldome assets (dome originals, audio, etc.) to distributors or film festivals for encoding. Metadata indicates frame counts for dome originals, number and format of audio channels, frame rate, 2D versus 3D, etc., to make content transport more efficient and more understandable by the recipients. This simplifies and standardizes the transport of show assets. RSA Cosmos is creating open source software to allow the community to create the metadata, and the AFDI vendors have committed to implement a metadata reader into their slicing and encoding software.
In order to facilitate the delivery of fulldome trailers and/or fulldome show screeners directly from producers to theaters, AFDI has developed a “universal” MPEG2 encoding specification for 2K×2K fisheye videos that will play back on most fulldome systems regardless of the vendor. AFDI has specified 36 Mbps and 20 Mbps bit rates for these videos, and producers may choose to add a “watermark” onto the imagery to discourage piracy, especially of full-length screeners. In addition to the published spec, all AFDI vendors have agreed to implement the AFDI 2K×2K encoding specification as an option in their individual encoding software packages. During the AFDI session at IPS 2016, the audience was able to see samples of video and grids encoded using this specification. AFDI will post sample encoded videos and grids soon for community members to test on their systems.
The next big priority is to establish a shared encryption standard for the entire community that will be implemented by all equipment vendors. This standard will allow shared encryption keys and site license keys for the community. AFDI vendors are working on encryption methods so that encrypted content can be used throughout the community, and will establish best practices for decryption of videos that the individual equipment vendors can implement in their own systems (using established standards). This effort is supported by all AFDI equipment vendors.
Michael Daut serves as the Director of Show Production/Marketing at Evans & Sutherland, developing a library of shows for the digital fulldome community and has a passion for immersive media. He is an award-winning writer, producer, and director for fulldome videos, theatrical productions, music videos, live concert videos, commercials, documentaries, corporate videos, and trade show presentations. He has a BA in Media Communications with a video/film emphasis from Webster University, where he also served as an adjunct professor. He created the world's first digital fulldome film for SIGGRAPH 99 in Los Angeles, and also helped create the world's first digital fulldome transfer of a giant screen film, Africa the Serengeti in 2007. As a result of this groundbreaking first step, there are now more than 50 giant screen films that have been converted to digital fulldome.