The rise of fulldome content has led to another interesting phenomenon: the fulldome film festival. There are a number each year, bringing together content, judges, and audiences to see and give awards to new shows. They have their roots squarely in the realm of such festivals as Sundance, Cannes, and others (although perhaps not as fancy as those).
I see the rise of festivals as a way for our fulldome community to learn what’s out there and honor those who do a good job at their craft. I’ve judged for the Jena festival, and more recently for several rounds of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival (JHWFF). This year I focused my attention on regular HD offerings in the “Earth and Space Sciences” division. There were dozens of shows ranging from productions by NOVA, NHK, National Geographic, and a range of independent producers. On the immersive side, the festival had 10 fulldome entries, 2 digital 3D shows, and 2 IMAX 3d presentations. I’ve also judged for the Jena Fulldome Festival. For JHWFF, the criteria for judging science videos are spelled out quite well, ranging from writing, cinematography, technical execution, camerawork, soundtracks and so on, to overall impact. It usually takes me two times through a video to get a good feel for its achievements. It’s time well spent; I almost always learn something new from each one. The criteria for fulldome shows are the same – after all, cinema is cinema, and there are rules of storytelling and technical achievement that are common to all forms of media. Complicating matters are the requirements of the dome, which impose peculiar restraints on the filmmaker. Similar ones fall upon the creators of VR and AR. In the end, a good story is a good story, and what we’re judging is how well it’s told (and how it affects the audience).
In addition to her role as CEO of Loch Ness Productions, Carolyn Collins Petersen is a science writer and astronomy researcher. She is acutely interested in the fulldome medium's ability to provide cinematic approaches to storytelling that engages audiences. She has more than three dozen fulldome shows to her credit, and recently narrated several shows for other producers. She has written three astronomy books, numerous online audio and video series about astronomy and space science, and was senior author for major exhibits at Griffith Observatory, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the California Academy of Sciences. She is a contributor in astronomy and space science for Space.About.com (space.about.com).
Carolyn Collins Petersen studied education and astronomy at the University of Colorado, and earned a graduate degree in mass communications (science emphasis, and minor in telecommunications engineering) in 1996 from CU, where she also worked on a Hubble Space Telescope instrument team. She spent several years as an editor and writer at Sky Publishing Corporation before assuming a leadership role at Loch Ness Productions.She currently serves as IMERSA's Communications Coordinator and can be reached at Carolyn@IMERSA.org.