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Articles in Category: 2014 Archive

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

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

IMERSA to share new research findings at 2014 Summit, and publish them afterward

summitbanner2IMERSA helps encourage growth and innovation in the immersive digital media space by promoting research that uncovers opportunities and reveals important trends. Attend IMERSA Summit 2014 and you'll be among the first to benefit from the presentation of several new studies by experts, helping to portray where our industry is today and where it may be headed over the next 5 years.


The research presentations at IMERSA Summit 2014 will include:

Convergence between fulldome and giant-screen film domes

PSF Photo InternetIMG 9812nt-cropPaul Fraser of Blaze Digital Cinema Works (pictured at left) will share the results of an original research study on the opportunities for convergence between the operators of the larger fulldome theaters and giant-screen film domes that will digitize in the next few years. A roundtable discussion will follow. Scroll down to see more detail on this session.


IMERSA Research Bytes: Industry Data Snapshots
Producers: Chris Hill, Sliced Tomato Productions, Alan Caskey, Holovis

Moderator: Alan Caskey, Holovis

IMERSA Research Bytes will present, in a moderated forum, industry snapshots shared by the experts as listed below. The moderator will summarize the material and query the researchers. Audience Q & A will follow.

mark c Petersen midresMark Petersen of Loch Ness Productions (pictured at left): Growth and trends in the fulldome planetarium network, and analysis of fulldome show pricing.

Mike Bruno of Spitz Inc. is sharing a model for generating revenue in the production and distribution of high-end fulldome shows

Dario Tiveron of The Fulldome Database ( Trends in fulldome show production.

Mark Dvorchak of Pro Forma Advisors LLC : An overview and valuation of the fulldome industry that includes comparisons to other out-of-home entertainment sectors with observations on pricing models and aspects of operations and distribution.

Steering an Immersive Dome Theater toward Success - IMERSA Summit 2014 - Brian Wirthlin, Ian McLennan and...

Brian WirthlinSteering an immersive dome theater toward success - Roundtable session at IMERSA Summit 2014, March 6-9 in Denver

With Brian Wirthlin (photo at left), Ian McLennan (photo at right), Berend Reijnhoudt and Dan Neafus. Success in a theater space means delivering great guest experiences, operating in the black, filling the seats and generating return visits. Effective marketing, creative thinking and the support of the community are key to getting there. Multimedia, live performance and local resources can all work for you to unlock the untapped potential of your dome - including being a planetarium. Learn first-hand about successful - and not-so-successful - experiences and experiments from top names in the field.


Please read on for more details....

The pros & perils of 8K ! IMERSA Summit - March 9 at Fiske

Fiske Reopen.CC159

An 8K evening at Fiske Planetarium - Sunday, March 9 in Boulder

Hear from the early adopters and suppliers of 8K fulldome and see it for yourself!

Note: This event is included in the Summit, but can also be attended as a single ticketed event. To inquire, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The grand finale of IMERSA Summit 2014 will take place at Fiske Planetarium, which recently unveiled a new 8K Sky-Skan system - one of the few 8K dome systems in the world. Refreshments, screenings, facility tours and a panel discussion are all on the program.

Don't miss this opportunity to see one of the first 8K installations in North America up close, and see screenings of 8K content and hear from 8K suppliers, 8K system owners and operators, and 8K producers.

Panel Discussion: The Pros and Perils of 8K

Speakers include Chris Maytag (Fiske Planetarium), Mark Webb and Patrick McPike (Adler Planetarium), Andrew Johnston (Einstein Planetarium, National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution), Steve Savage (Sky-Skan), Michael Daut (E&S), Martin Howe (Electrosonic), and Staffan Klashed of SCISS.

After the last Sunday session takes place in Denver, shuttles will bring delegates to the Fiske Planetarium, and take them back to the Denver hotel at the end of the evening, which will conclude about 11 pm. (Shuttles will start running about 10 pm)

Laser Fantasy will provide a laser show finale to the evening!


Jeri in the Sky with Diamonds

Jeri Panek new headshot Feb 19 2014 lowerres

Jeri Panek will receive lifetime achievement honors at the 2014 IMERSA Summit, March 6-9 in Denver. Judith Rubin wrote this article about Panek's career, which spans the birth of the computer industry and the creation of the digital planetarium

Click here for more information about the IMERSA Summit program.

Click here for IMERSA Summit registration.

Copyright 2014 by Judith Rubin, all rights reserved.

They call her "Mother Digistar," and it's a name she earned over the course of a stellar career (pun intended). Jeri Panek, Director of Sales at Evans & Sutherland, has been with that company since 1980, and her estimable sales record must be credited for introducing and popularizing the digital planetarium, and putting in place a vast part of today's fulldome theater network.

Something that is easy to forget nowadays, but essential to this story is that the development of the digital planetarium was a counterpart to the development of computer graphics technology and the personal computer culture – and that Jeri Panek was on the scene for all of those.

After attending the University of Utah in the 1960s and studying public relations and computer science, Jeri Panek was hired at Univac (now Unisys) in a public relations position.

While she was at Univac, the University of Utah Computer Science Dept. came calling. “At the time, this was one of the premier places in the world for computer graphics research,” she recalls. “Robert Taylor called me in for an interview, as one of very few people then familiar with both computers and PR.” (Taylor was a leader in the early research and development of the personal computer and the Internet, and then the head of ARPA research at the University of Utah – ARPA was a government agency connected to the US Department of Defense.)

Although, says Panek, she “wasn't looking for a new job,” Taylor advised her to keep an open mind. “He said, 'Pretend you're twins. You meet again in five years. Which one will be further ahead and will it matter?'"

Jeri Panek, the birth of the computer industry and the digital planetarium

Sponsor IMERSA and get maximum exposure at the 2014 IMERSA Summit


Renew your IMERSA sponsorship from last year, or embark on a new sponsorship package in 2014, to make the most of opportunities for visibility at the 2014 IMERSA Summit.

Contact: Judith Rubin, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., tel. +1 314.853.5210.

Sponsorship is year-long, Summit to Summit, so that your support benefits the organization all year while giving you a special Summit showcase.

The 2014 IMERSA Summit is March 6-9 in Denver.

Summit venues include the SIE Film Center, the Holiday Inn hotel and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

All IMERSA sponsors receive the following benefits:

  • Recognition on signage at Summit
  • Your logo and profile on the website and in conference program
  • Acknowledgment during sponsored activities
  • A digital copy of attendee list with email addresses, in spreadsheet form.
  • Acknowledgment on IMERSA social media
  • The opportunity to provide one item to the Summit delegate bag

Top-level sponsors (Title, Premier, Principal or Patron) will have highest visibility on materials provided at the Summit, and year-long visibility on the website.

If you're ready to book your sponsorship, you can use the online checkout page, or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions.

Please read on for pertinent information...

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