Proceedings of the IPS 2004 Special Session
FULLDOME STANDARDS SUMMIT
Valencia, Spain July 7/8, 2004
This Fulldome Standards Summit was conceived to be the first in a series of Fulldome Summits designed to bring together industry leaders - from institutional to corporate, technical to artistic - to advance the state-of-the art in fulldome video through technical exchange and the formation of industry standards and recommended “best practices”.
This first Summit was a special session of the IPS 2004 Conference in Valencia, and was sponsored by a sub-award to Spitz, Inc., under the National Science Foundation grant awarded to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science for its proposal No. ESI-0337286, a suite of projects collectively titled "The Black Hole Project."
With more than a dozen talks and 70 registrants, the Summit provided an opportunity to begin discussions and formulate a roadmap for future endeavors. The Summit focused on the following general topics pertaining to fulldome video-based theaters and related professions:
· Potential or proposed fulldome industry standards
· Industry guidelines or “best practices”
· Standard nomenclature or terminology
· Standardized test frames or sequences
· New technologies that will affect standards efforts
· Methods to facilitate cross-platform show distribution
· Areas benefiting from greater vendor cooperation
· IPS support for standards and technological exchange
· Philosophical discussion of standards issues
We would like to thank all those who took part, especially those who presented papers; broad participation made the event very much worthwhile. Special thanks to the National Science Foundation, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Spitz, Inc., Thomas Lucas Productions and the International Planetarium Society for supporting this event.
Ed Lantz, Visual Bandwidth, Co-chair
Ryan Wyatt, American Museum of Natural History, Co-chair
Mike Bruno, Spitz, Inc., Editor
Dan Neafus, DMNS, Event Organizer
Agenda, Abstracts and Final Papers
An agenda of the Summit, along with abstracts and downloadables of the paper sessions, follows on this page. Click on the links next to each of the abstracts to download the associated paper or PowerPoint presentation.
This paper summarizes the findings of the Fulldome Standards Summit and provides suggestions for "best practices" for those involved in prerendered, fulldome show production and distribution, with specific recommendations for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science's "Black Hole Project."
Nearly all successful technology-based business areas thrive on technical exchange, recognition of excellence, and the establishment of industry standards. The fulldome industry has yet to institute such practices under a formal banner. The case is made for unity within the fulldome industry, including an annual summit that can act as a focal point for fulldome vendors, users and artisans.
Standards are the sort of dotted-i's-and-crossed-t's topic that cause planetarians to slumber, but our institutions have a vested interest in addressing standards issues explicitly and promptly. With media remaining costly to produce, distribution and collaboration must occur as painlessly and efficiently as possible: the definition of standards or “best practices” can significantly aid in this process. Furthermore, astronomical imagery taxes the display capabilities of many systems, which underscores the need more objective means of describing the quality of reproduction between systems. In the midst of these challenges, we lack even a basic vocabulary for describing many of the issues we need to address. In short, planetarians find themselves at the head of an emerging technology that combines significant advances in various arenas; we must navigate the headwaters cautiously but bravely, mapping out a route that enables increased institutional cooperation without curtailing future development.
The recent surge in the development of digital domes is presenting an opportunity to establish a technical understanding, nomenclature, cooperation and maybe even a standard for the technologies used to drive these venues. The development of a standard or set of standards could provide the opportunity to decrease the cost in developing and sharing content, an increasing the opportunities for hardware and software to support digital domes, and an increase in the number and popularity of digital domes as a public venue.
We will also review the role of market forces in the success and failure of standards. Finally, we will look at the standards organizing committees, how they were formed, when they were formed, who was on them and what were the results. We will examine where these committees were effective, where they were a hindrance, and how the markets adopted the standards. Through all of this we will highlight the successes and pit falls and draw some conclusion and comparisons that may be applicable to the development of a Full Dome Standard.
Since all the available software applications are primarily designed to create “framed” views and the application developers treat “what’s beyond the view” as a throw-away, problems can arise when stitching the multiple camera views used to create fulldome imagery. This paper will detail an approach that employs rendering an area beyond the needed camera view to “trick” the rendering software into creating camera-views that will stitch together without seam edge issues. An explanation as to what elements in a scene can potentially cause problems, why these elements cause problems and how the over-rendering technique can eliminate the problem will be discussed. Although the solution will be implemented with the scripting tools available in Alias Maya software, similar techniques can be employed in any of the software tools being used to create fulldome imagery.
LodeStar has opened its dome to university students, visiting artists, researchers, and independent producers for more than three and a half years — including the world's only fulldome video festival, DomeFest. The collaborations have been both taxing and enthralling as a culture of fulldome production has developed in New Mexico. LodeStar will share some of the program designs, documents and tricks it has learned through the community-based efforts which have resulted in more than 150 fulldome producers and hours of content development. The presentation will describe practices such as dome orientations, production manuals, selection of supported producers and artists, file management, production reviews and public presentation of finished works. These practices have defined something of a standard — though not curbing — technique for LodeStar-based productions.
AllSky video shows currently represent a growth market and it
is urgent to propose a format meeting all requirements. R.S.A. Cosmos, as a
European player in the AllSky video shows market and manufacturer of a complete
AllSky digital planetarium solution, wishes to participate actively in this
elaboration by defending some European specifications, such as frame rates.
What are the specifications of the projection system to consider to create a
standard exchange of AllSky video shows?
Fish-eye images have been adopted as standard by the community, so it is important to define how to obtain them, their resolution as well as a working chain allowing to the planetariums to use them. The fish-eye image rendering method will also have to meet the requirements of planetariums that produce videos according to their technical, temporal and financial means. What method should be used to produce fish-eyes? What resolution should be adopted for these images? What method should be used to adapt them to a particular planetarium theatre? In addition, most of the shows currently produced take advantage of a spatial sound system. But each theatre is different, either in its architecture (titled or not) or in its sound installation (5+1, 6+1, 7+1, others) Which files are supplied to the planetariums and how do they have to treat them to optimize their installation?
In the film industry THX sound describes a quality assurance program for audio systems rather than an audio format. This simple set of standards and practice allows for reasonably faithful audio mix reproduction in theatres around the world. Digital Planetaria have largely adopted 5.1 as an audio track format, but generally have no meaningful standard as to the placement, power balance, and equalization of the speakers. A short description of the difficulties this situation has created in porting content will be presented, along with some possible approaches toward achieving more consistency in sound system design. Some strategies for spatialized mixing and mix portability will also be discussed.
UniView is a software framework for real time astronomical
visualization. One of the main features of the framework is seamless transition
between an arbitrary range of scales, from satellites or space stations to the
edge of the observable universe. The scale transitions are implemented using
multiple layers of scenegraphs, denoted scalegraphs. In the context of the
UniView framework the paper addresses standardization of the use of different
coordinate systems for data representation and navigation.
UniView supports real time broadcasting of shows and remote lectures, with a network-based event kernel broadcasting actions taken by a host to connected clients. Databases needed for the UniView software are stored locally with updates distributed automatically in advance, and show scripts can be distributed through the same mechanisms. Broadcasted events include among other things camera movement and object manipulation. UniView runs on laptop to full dome systems and is a joint effort between Sciss AB, Linköping University and the American Museum of Natural History.
By their very nature, Digital Domes are Pixel centric environments. Their performance and capability dictated by the hardware and software used to generate, distribute and ultimately display each and every pixel in the system. “The Flight of the Pixel” follows the journey of a Pixel from content to eye to describe the core principles that apply across the range of solutions in an attempt identify the key considerations for standards relating to large screen spherical displays.
Single projector systems have become the dominant format for fulldome digital planetariums, surpassing the number of multiple projector systems in 2004. This presentation outlines the benefits of these single projector systems, the challenges they face and the future they hold for planetariums.
Currently, different types of projection equipment are used for video image representation in planetarium applications. They include data sources that are exclusively based on a normalized RGB color space (IEC 61966-2-1). This color space has been adapted to the capabilities of classical tube monitors and traditional projector types for representation of colors. Latest developments such as laser display technology are aimed at perceivably extending the visible color space, in order to create new possibilities for visualization. The source material for working in an extended color space can be computer-generated data, pictures which have been shot with a special camera using an extended color space, specifically scanned color films or scientific false-color pictures (e.g. astronomical image data). In addition, color space spreading can be introduced to display existing picture material in an extended color space. For users, it is also essential to visualize these color representation possibilities on a control display. The paper discusses methods to put this into practice.
At the request of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and with support from the National Science Foundation, Spitz Creative Media performed a set of production tests to help ensure wide distribution of future shows. The goals of the tests were to establish action and text safe areas for full-dome production, investigate how to deal with differently tilted domes, investigate how to deal with gamma issues, and to address what happens to stars when transferring content to systems with different resolution requirements. This paper details the issues that were investigated, explains the tests that were performed and presents our findings.
General standards are proposed for specifying fulldome displays. Proposed specifications include brightness, brightness uniformity, color uniformity, contrast, resolution and update rate. A methodology for measuring edge-blend uniformity is proposed, and suggestions are made for approaching more difficult parameters such as color gamut.