Wednesday, March 2, 2011

IMERSA’s Dan Neafus speaks to the future of large-scale immersive digital cinema at Fulldome UK 2011 and Cyprus Domefestival

March 2011 events in Europe demonstrate that Immersive Digital Dome Cinema (“fulldome”) has made huge strides in the past 10 years – technically, creatively and in market penetration.

Denver/London/Cyprus -- 2 March 2011 -- Two upcoming events in Europe will showcase digital dome (“fulldome”) cinema production and technology: Fulldome UK 2011 (12-13 March at Thinktank Science Museum, Birmingham) and Cyprus Domefestival (18-21 March at the American Academy of Larnaca, Cyprus).

Presenting at both gatherings is Dan Neafus, Operations Manager of the Gates Planetarium at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and co-founder of IMERSA.org. The nonprofit IMERSA (Immersive Entertainment, Research, Science & Arts) is a leading proponent of fulldome and immersive media, founded in 2008. On behalf of IMERSA, Neafus will lead a demonstration / discussion on The Language of Immersive Cinema, and the IMERSA 2011 Update - an overview of the future of large-scale immersive cinema.
 
Image from Dragons Treasure at City of Dreams, Macau
“Fulldome cinema is a unique and evolving medium,” says Neafus. “Production capabilities for this challenging format have improved dramatically in the past decade, attracting new creative talent into the dome. Lacking, however, is a cinematic language that adequately describes producing for the ‘viewer-centric’ experience in the dome.” His presentations will feature examples and suggestions of ways to continue to develop the creative potential of this unique medium.

About fulldome
Digital dome cinema aka “fulldome” is an internationally emerging, dome-specific video display medium with an expanding network of theaters - currently numbering more than 700 around the world and expected to near 800 in the next year. Currently, approximately half of all fulldome theaters are in the US, but many new installations are in Asia and Europe.


Kenji Williams performs Bella Gaia in the Vortex Dome, Los Angeles
 
Fulldome has its foundation in planetariums and science centers, but as the community grows, both venues and content are diversifying. Entertainment operators, houses of worship, corporate marketers, special event producers, video game developers and casinos are all showing interest in fulldome.

Likewise, fulldome has drawn the interest of filmmakers and digital artists, digital cinema producers and distributors, exhibit designers, theater consultants and audiovisual system designers/integrators. Major distributors of special venue cinema that are investing in fulldome productions – both 2D and 3D - include National Geographic, nWave Pictures and SK Films.

Screenshot of The Simpsons Ride. Photo: Universal Studios

As a creative medium, fulldome’s virtues include immersiveness (the ability to surround an audience with a panorama of imagery), its power to both educate and entertain, and its facility to turn a theater into a multimedia, multipurpose space. 

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To learn more about the many fulldome-related events and festivals around the world in coming months, see the IMERSA Calendar of Events.
A sampling of digital dome theaters
In planetariums/science centers:
  • American Museum of Natural History (Hayden Planetarium, New York)
  • Griffith Observatory (Los Angeles)
  • Planetarium Hamburg
  • Adler Planetarium (Chicago)
  • Gates Planetarium (Denver Museum of Nature & Science) 
  • Morrison Planetarium (California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco)
  • Brother Earth (Nagoya City Science Museum, Japan)
Trailer for Life: A Cosmic Story produced by the Morrison Planetarium
In entertainment venues and theme parks: 
  • Universal Studios theme parks (The Simpsons Ride; Harry Potter: The Forbidden Journey)
  • Madame Tussauds London (Marvel Superheroes 4D) 
  • Futuroscope Park in Poitiers, France (Arthur experiential 4D cinema attraction)
  • City of Dreams, Macau (Dragons Treasure) 
  • Vortex Dome (Events venue at Los Angeles Center Studios)    
About IMERSA.org 
IMERSA - Immersive Media, Entertainment, Research, Science & Arts - is an international non-profit professional organization that celebrates and promotes immersive and fulldome media for education and entertainment in planetariums, schools, museums, cinemas, events and attractions. Mandated to raise the profile and professionalism of its members, IMERSA bridges many disciplines including researchers, artists and technicians. IMERSA is a driver and nexus for communication, collaboration, experimentation, education and promotion of digital immersive media in a variety of formats and functions. 

Screenshot from Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity

Dan Neafus, IMERSA co-founder
Dan Neafus has produced engaging audience experiences for over 30 years, and continues to lead pioneering efforts as the Operations Manager of the Gates Planetarium, one of the finest immersive theaters in the world. His ongoing work ranges from live theatrical production to immersive photography.

He is a Founding Director of the non-profit trade group IMERSA (Immersive Media Entertainment, Research, Science & Arts) celebrating and promoting immersive and fulldome media for education and entertainment in planetariums, schools, museums, cinemas and attractions. Dan is a frequent lecturer at international events and has served as a judge in prestigious Immersive Film Festivals. His Fulldome film production credits include; Black Holes; The Other Side of Infinity and Cosmic Journey; A Solar System Adventure, which have been distributed to digital planetariums world-wide.

His consulting firm Artlight Originals, has provided public and performance artworks at venues throughout the U.S. His collaboration with fellow visionary pioneers has helped to chart the course for future digital domed theaters and the immersive experience. Visit http://www.danneafus.com/
National Geographic has made Sea Monsters available in digital dome 2D and 3D versions

Fulldome UK 2011
12-13 March, Thinktank Science Museum, Birmingham
The event will focus on the use of fulldome as an artistic medium and will look to highlight the more creative and experimental applications of fulldome immersive environments, beyond the realm of astronomy education most commonly associated with digital planetariums today. 


Cyprus Domefestival
18-21 March
Presented by the Cyprus Science Festival and the Kition Planetarium and Observatory at the American Academy of Larnaca. This four-day celebration of immersive film and animation will explore emerging technologies in immersive cinema, collaborations between art and science, techniques for engaging audiences and the use of immersive film in education.