News Archive

Doug Roberts gives the download on WorldWide Telescope, 8K and more

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Doug Roberts, WorldWide Telescope Architect, is a visionary science communicator and visualizer. He is speaking at IMERSA Summit 2014 on the session, “Virtual Realities and Game Changers.”

WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is a free software program that functions as a virtual telescope and is marketed as an enriching resource for schools, museums, planetariums, and homes. Its 5.0 release was unveiled in January at the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C.

Here, Roberts is interviewed by Patrick McPike, Visualization Engineer for the Space Visualization Studio at the Adler Planetarium, where Roberts has held a variety of positions beginning as Astronomer in 2000 and culminating as Associate VP for Digital Technologies/CTO (2010-2013). Roberts is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at Northwestern University.

What do you expect to cover in your talk at the IMERSA Summit?

I'll be speaking to innovation in the planetarium industry – such as connecting people in a communal dome setting with other people using personal VR devices. I feel that people want be able to ask an expert and share their knowledge and excitement with others in this communal storytelling environment. It is important to note that these advances in immersive hardware are not astronomy-specific, although they are well-suited for telling astronomy stories. They expand our idea of what a planetarium is - to include what happens outside the dome.

We are now at a place where creating new planetarium experiences is something that can be done by an increasing number of people outside the traditional planetarium community. I can't anticipate what will be produced, I just know it will be different.

I look forward to seeing the amazing experiences that will be created when the producers can spend more time creating the experience and less time fiddling with technology....

Please read on...

Transporting the guest into a created reality

Rick RothschildRick Rothschild talks about dome experiences and immersive storytelling
Interview with Joe Kleiman

Rick Rothschild of FAR Out! Creative Direction will participate in IMERSA Summit 2014, as a speaker/discussion leader in the “Great Storytelling in Immersive Spaces” panel on Sunday, March 9.

Two of your more recent projects involved domes with very different purposes - the Adler Planetarium and FlyOver Canada. What similarities and differences did you find between the two projects?
They are two very different kinds of experiences and applications of dome technology. With the new Grainger Sky Theater at the Adler, the dome was a fulldome application...


International Innovation Celebration at IMERSA Summit 2014

IMERSA Summit 2014: International Innovators Forum

Click here to see the full Summit program, March 6-9 in Denver

Showcasing the creativity and contributions of our participants from overseas
Saturday, March 8, 2:00 – 3:30 pm

Each presentation in this session will follow the Pecha Kucha format. The International Innovators forum is co-produced by Ed Lantz and Ethan Bach of Vortex Immersion.

Presenters include:
The Dance Dome
Matt Wright and Janire Najera, 4∏ Productions; The Dance Dome (Wales, UK): Dance and Live-Capture Choreography for Fulldome
An overview of the technical and creative processes utilized during the production and delivery of The Dаnсе Domе project, live action choreographed dance fulldome films. 

This talk is intended to inspire more experimentation in both dance and live-capture for the dome. Since 2012, the project has produced three fulldome dance shorts that have allowed for experimentation with green-screen, time lapse photography and fulldome live-capture. The films have since been screened at the BACIFI Film Festival in Argentina, Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and at DomeFest 2012, where The Sublime won the Innovation Award.          
MattWright JanireNajera4∏ Productions is an experiential art, marketing and events company that offers creative solutions utilizing 360° content. 4∏ engages and inspires audiences through collaborative and innovative multidisciplinary projects within the UK and internationally. The company directors Matt Wright and Janire Najera have been collaborating together for over five years exploring the spherical realm by producing interactive installations, environmental sculptures, multimedia exhibitions, virtual tours and immersive experiences.

Please read on for additional presenters...

IMERSA fosters dialog on specialty cinema with 2014 Summit in Denver March 6-9

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"The challenge that faces us is to create a new dimension in immersive storytelling," says Rick Rothschild of FAR Out! Creative Direction, who is featured in the "Great Storytelling" discussion at IMERSA Summit 2014, March 6-9 in Denver.

Dan Neafus"We're bringing together some of the best minds and forward thinkers from planetariums, giant screen cinema, themed entertainment, pano-photography, gaming and virtual reality, computer graphics and science visualization," says IMERSA co-founder Dan Neafus, director of the Gates Planetarium at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, which is one of the host venues for IMERSA Summit 2014.

Registration is open and discounts are available through Feb 17, 2014.

Click to see Summit schedule overview

IMERSA is a trade group founded in 2008 by Dan Neafus and several colleagues in response to the rapid adoption of digital dome video ("fulldome") in planetariums that has essentially transformed these spaces into state-of-the-art immersive theaters. They saw new, potential creative and market opportunities exploding in multiple directions - as indicated by the group's acronym, which stands for Immersive Media, Education, Entertainment, Research, Science and Arts.

Sponsors of IMERSA Summit 2014 include Attraktion!/Sphere of Light Award, California Academy of Sciences, Clark Planetarium, Dome3D, Evans & Sutherland, Electrosonic, Holovis, Loch Ness Productions, Morrow Sound, OpenLens Productions, Seiler Instrument/Carl Zeiss, Sky-Skan, Spitz Inc., SCISS, SlicedTomato Video Productions and Vortex Immersion.

Participants in IMERSA Summit 2014 include:

Doug Roberts
Doug Roberts
A member of the WorldWide Telescope team at Microsoft Research, and liaison to the planetarium, astronomical research and informal learning communities, Roberts will participate in the "Virtual Realities and Game Changers" session on Sunday, March 9. Read more


Donna CoxDr Donna Cox - Pioneer in the use of science data for the creation of educational visuals in media. Giant screen cinema credits include Cosmic Voyage. Fulldome credits include Dynamic Earth. Dr Cox will deliver the keynote address for IMERSA Summit 2014. Read more


Click here for Speakers' Gallery (downloadable images and bios

Click here for information on featured screenings at IMERSA Summit 2014

Jonathan BarkerJonathan Barker - President of SK Films, producer of Flight of the Butterflies, a current top success of giant screen cinema, recently repurposed for fulldome exhibition. "Butterflies" will be screened in fulldome and Barker will lead a case study session on its cross platforming. Read more

Read on to learn about more participants...

Inquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The closing event of IMERSA Summit 2014 will take place on Sunday, March 9 at the new 8K fulldome facility of Fiske Planetarium in Boulder (shown above). Very few digital dome systems are capable of 8K resolution, currently considered one of the furthest frontiers of any cinematic medium. This event is an opportunity to see 8K content created specifically for the 8K digital dome and to hear from early adopters, system providers and producers all in one place.

Please read on for much more information...

"The challenge that faces us is to create a new dimension in immersive storytelling.

Overheard: Ian McLennan and Mike Murray discuss planetarium budgeting and its symbiosis with content development

This was the genesis conversation for the Planetarium Budgeting session that McLennan and Murray will present at IMERSA Summit 2014, March 6-9 in Denver. More information/registration at www.imersa.org

IanMcLennanIan McLennan: The great big question mark over everything is content development and how to achieve it in an economical fashion; how to arrive at a working master plan that makes sense for everything involved. Planetariums and dome theaters tend to exist at the low end of the scale in their ability to pay for content, staff, equipment and marketing. It is a self perpetuating cycle. How do we break that cycle? There are no magical answers... but we can look at what strategies might be put in place to up the whole game.

Planetariums are notoriously expensive to operate, especially if you have staff dedicated to live programming in addition to pre-programmed content. Then there are technical upgrades and maintenance to think of. This is all part of the big picture of budgeting.

Mike Murray: There is a need for a planetarium budget template. I've had many inquiries from people call me wanting some kind of matrix or spreadsheet that outlines what different kinds of operations might cost. I've been doing some work toward that – how you might build a budget for almost any operation in a planetarium/fulldome theater.

McLennan: You'd need to have three basic models: bare-bones, the next step up, and then the dream. Or, if you

Murray2Murray: The must-have, would-like-to-have, and would-really-like-to-have, indicating what you could expect to achieve for each of the three models, including the outcomes in terms of audience numbers. Don't forget we have got to have quality content. There's not necessarily a straight line to quality product.

McLennan: That would be part of the process, and something that continues to be evaluated along the way: quality content as part of the business plan.

Murray: Quality content as part of the business plan, and how to achieve it across all three levels.

McLennan: Good content is not an afterthought! It is almost job number one.

And yet, in spite of the phenomenal exhibition medium and technology and image resources available to us, all too often we have made the Universe boring.

Why are we even in this business if we are not creating great experiences that people want to see?

Murray: We need to change the business model and the production model. There is a need for formative evaluation at the front end.

Meet the IMERSA Summit organizers

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