5 future uses of immersive FullDome entertainment (incl. investment opportunities)

Content, Interest, Platform

Till now, most content that is projected/produced on FullDomes around the world is either fully CGI based imagery (cartoons, educational shows, animations, etc), or space/nature imagery through Time-lapse capture or IMAX shot and later blown out footage.
With the rise of “high pixel count” stitching and other computer augmented devices, the necessity of distorting imagery or simply creating it digitally is becoming a thing of the past with the possibility of live action shooting in a FullDome delivery thought out process.IMG_5530This is where the technology/workflow presented at the HK Filmart 2013 comes in.   

IMG_5532Please refer back to our previous post for the technical specs/presentation of what was showcased in the March event.
The information presented below is bearing in mind the production and presented workflow/technology used from SalonFilms and presented in March of this year.

Possible Usage of FullDome technology

Environment simulation (integration to a 3D cave simulator) for technical training
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For all problematic, complex and dangerous training situations, nowadays, big services and technology companies train their technicians through a mix of simulators and 3D projection caves (example of the technology).
This technology helps qualified personnel in getting used to the environment they’re going to find in the field and adapt their processes and workflows into the situation they find themselves in, generating better and more prepared technicians.
FullDome live action capture can, not only replace some of these environments with real life imagery and therefore help with a better integration of the user into the environment, but it can also better prepare these technicians as place illusion can be essential for a better capture of the learned outcomes through the simulators and having them totally immersed in their environment.

House and building reproduction through CGI or through model reproduction with High-Def cameras (Property Showroom)
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Property development in HK grows at a rampant and unstoppable speed year on year.
Every month, companies try to find new ways of attracting possible buyers into their properties with new and innovative gimmicks, with some of the most popular being house and environment demos (built on the spot exhibits of what the environment inside a house would look like) and beautifully simulated environment videos (2-3 and sometimes even 4 wall projections of the environment). These simulations/demos also have a more tactile component to them as some property developers create a real set experience where people can walk through a built apartment near where the construction of the property will be developed.
A FullDome simulation/capture of these environments, not only would give clients a better understanding and immersiveness of the house/property they are interested in buying but it would also give the property developers a much broader and cheaper way of transporting and multiplying their simulators into different locations in Hong Kong and even Worldwide.
With the use of the portable Domes and the high quality, high pixel count projectors with great looking content, property developers would have a great way of “wowing” their costumers and better influencing their buying habits.
If the production of the property is still under development or there are only computer generated
 images of the environment, then the technology developed through FullDome projection can also be incorporated to fully CGI’ed imagery, but with a much higher resolution than now available in the market.

A seamless integration of content in entertainment environments like park rides, haunted houses, etc
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One of the biggest uses of large projected images in the world today, are entertainment experiences through simulated locations (Universal Studios, DisneyLand, etc).
These locations are usually designed so people walkthrough or are escorted through environments with single points of attention (like screens, posters, tactile simulations) and are limited to the construction of the environment in accordance to the better POV’s that can be captured from the audience.
HAUNT_1_998With a FullDome integrated environment, these experiences would not only be much more fun and interactive, but they’d have a much larger component of entertainment to them, as any location, environment, situation, could be enjoyed through different perspectives, and hence give the audience a multiple try experience (they’d go to the location as many times as possible so they’d be able to enjoy it always from different points of perspective).

Educational purposes for better image capture of remote locations
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One of the main usages of FullDomes around the world is education.
Having a great sense of wonderment and immersiveness while being at a FullDome experience is an integral part of a tech savvy and habituated child’s growth and with the newly presented tech this niche market can become bigger and bigger.
A common FullDome is a still and limited look at an environment, projected and captured through a single view point/perspective. With the new technology from Filmart, this might not be a limitation for content/educational creators anymore, as the attention of a child on the screen can be captured by multiple viewpoints of the content that is being presented.
A full 360 degree image is simulated (rendered or captured) in the FullDome environment and children that way have a constant interaction and immersion to the imagery presented, always having a point of attention on the screen with their movements.

Live entertainment opportunities in concerts, sports events and environment projection for new shows Simulating different environments in home or live use.
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Interactivity in events is something that is becoming more and more seamless in the tech community, with event planners and production specialists always trying to find new ways of capturing the attention of their audience.
A great example of having a specially created FullDome experience for an audience is them having the possibility of experiencing a 360 degree event that they can enjoy without being preoccupied with the people around them covering what they are looking at during the event.
A FullDome environment has multiple attraction points of content for an audience and with the immersiveness that that brings to them, the audience has a further satisfaction from the content (concerts, sports events, etc) that they experience.
Watching live coverage of the Olympic games in multiple countries with totally designed experiences of the events presented (one of the limitations existing in the Olympic Games is several specialized sports events in single locations at the same time, that have to be cut down or edited in broadcasting or post-production), being a part of an audience at a Formula1 event, watching a total immersive experience at a concert with beautifully shot surrounding environment shots, Having concerts inside different locations in a matter of minutes while the musicians are playing inside the Dome… these are some of the experiences a FullDome installation and Live Action capture can give to an interested investor and audience.

Investment opportunities

As with all state of the art technology, the necessary initial funding and development process is long and arduous, with a lot of focus being targeted at the feasibility of the tech in accordance to the market’s needs.
In this aspect, FullDome technology isn’t any different, although it brings new and exciting possibilities to the table.
Not only are investors, producers and developers in a stage where they can influence the integration and evolution of the technology, they have the possibility of revolutionizing several norms of entertainment and experience based technology into generating fully immersive environments with beautiful and seamless imagery.
Although the technology has gotten to a stage where great possibilities are foreseen, the necessity of content generated to attract possible costumers is a must and this is where Haexagon Concepts brings to you a call to arms.

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If you have great ideas or are interested in seeing where this technology can take you and your costumers, contact us at: concepts@haexagon.org or through one of our several Social Media Networks.

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Fulldome & the future of immersive storytelling

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Three years in the making, during Filmart 2013 we will finally reveal one of the most innovative projects we worked on so far: Fulldome live action high resolution immersive entertainment!

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Following, some Q&A to gain a better understanding of the topic:

What is Fulldome and why is doing it in live action such a big deal?

The Fulldome format is a half sphere (360 degree plus top) projection onto a screen inside a copula venue. Usually space or science museums have such a special venue and offer educational programs about astronomy and nature. Those special cinemas and their shows have been around for a long time, ever since the early 1980s. In order to be able to project into a spherical shaped screen the video content needs to be rendered into the so called Fulldome Master, which holds a square aspect ratio with a circular image in the middle and blacked out corners. This Fulldome Master will be split into a certain number of separate video streams during projection and a software blends together all edges of each projector’s image.

The nature of this format has it that the resolution of the entire Fulldome Master image is 4K at best (depending on the projection system) but not coherent within the image itself. The sides of the round Fulldome image usually hold up on the original resolution while the number of pixels dramatically decreases towards the top (center) point. Hence, a full resolution is not guaranteed.

The market for Fulldome is comparatively small and the number of productions very limited, new productions are in fact almost stalling. Most Fulldome shows are full animations, primarily targeting a school class audience or short lived family entertainment on weekends. The few live action productions were mostly done by the use of one single camera fitted with an extreme fish-eye lens shooting upwards. Besides the strong distortion effect, most the image content is occupied by the sky and hence less attractive. Now, everyone who has been to a Fulldome show will attest that the factor of immersiveness is far greater than any other media out there, only the content that is presented is anything but enticing. And that’s where our project started.

What is the project about?

Geographically, in terms of Fulldome, HK is located in a very prestige spot. Three of the world’s four only 8K projection enabled Fulldome venues are in “close” neighborhood: The HK Space Museum, the Macau Science Centre and the Beijing Planetarium. All three venues are technically equipped but got no high resolution content to display.

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On top, four years ago the Chinese government set up a development scheme in which it subsidizes the building of new Digital Dome theaters all over the country. A great number of smaller Domes are already completed, many others in the pipeline.

The simple challenge is, that the market lacks content while the amount of screens steadily rises within the Greater China region. Content is key, hence we came up with the idea to serve the gap with live action high resolution productions. At this moment, our strategy is to shoot with seven RED Epic cameras, each on a resolution of 5K. We developed a special back end pipeline to process those seven video streams separately as well as project them without the usual stitching into the Fulldome format. This guarantees a far higher end result. The nominal resolution is estimated roughly at around 12k+. Of course, this cannot be technically handled by the venues yet, thus a down convert to facilitate the full 8k by 8k resolution will be necessary.

The downside and primarily the reason why live action Fulldome has not been established as a viable production model is the comparatively increased costs as well as technical challenges. A 20 minute Fulldome feature can cost as much as a medium feature length cinema movie. This, of course, is in respect to the budget situation in HK, not to US or Europe! Hence, we see a fundamental advantage for financing this type of production in China as costs can be controlled within a lower segment.

Content-wise there are no limitations. Fulldome already works with 3D and real time interactions which elevates the immersiveness factor. Fiction formats work as good as documentaries or educational and instruction videos. Dome setups are widely used as simulation environments as they offer a great deal of realism. One of the most viable scenarios are concert and music formats.

Who is participating in this project?

Headed by Salon Films, the project was jointly developed in close collaboration with domeprojection.com, a German company specialized on dome projection and auto-alignment technology, that also developed the camera rig for the live action shoot. Also, as operator of the HK Space Museum and the Macau Science Centre, PCCW functions as supporter in terms of venue and subsequent distribution partner. RED Cameras is supporting the prototyping with their RED Epic cameras. Haexagon Concepts participates in business as well as project development.

What will happen at Filmart 2013?

Salon Films will install a Fulldome tent inside the HKTDC’s booth and project certain test video to showcase the technology. This will be the first time ever, HK Filmart is hosting a Fulldome projection. Interested parties can receive an invite and get access to the industry market in order to visit the booth and discuss future opportunities. Salon Films will have information material on site as well as a representative. We from Haexagon Concepts will also be assisting and giving insight in this project. Please contact us for more details: concepts@haexagon.org

Links:

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