Fully Immersive Therapeutic Environment

Hi everyone!

I'm a new member and was delighted to find this site! I'm doing an MA in Art and Media Practice part time over 2 years in London. The project I am undertaking is to create a full dome therapeutic environment. I would like to use my dome in hospitals, holistic centers, festivals etc. I want to be able to project video images rather than computer based graphics. I'm just going to talk a little about my project and perhaps people will be able to share their experiences and offer help?

At first I was going to build my own dome but then due to lack of time, I would be better to buy one and to spend my time working on the content that I will be projecting. I'm not too sure about what size of dome I want yet was thinking about 20ft. I've gotten some price quotes from different companies and they vary a lot, some have more experience with inner projection layers than others, does anyone know much about this and how effective do they look, I'm trying to get it as seamless as possible. I was thinking perhaps if I bought a normal dome and tried to construct an inner projection layer myself? I was initially staying away from inflatable domes as I wanted to be able to travel and use outdoors but maybe it's the only way to get a seamless projection? Does anyone know any good manufacturers in Europe? I've been told that the projection surface should be 50% reflective, does anyone know what fabric is best to use?

Now onto the technology! I have been more inclined to use a spherical mirror for projection to save space in the dome. Can I use normal 16.9 / 4.3 footage and warp it to fit the dome or does all footage have to be shot using a fish eye? And what software do I use?
I was really excited whenI came across the Ladybug camera and very disappointed to learn how much it cost! Are there any alternative cameras on the market for shooting 360? Even stills cameras?

I am also interested in incorporating speakers into the dome, i was thinking of attaching small speakers all across the dome structure, has anyone done this before? They would have to be attached to the outside so as to not spoil the projection.

I think that's all for now! I hope I've explained everything correctly! If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me. I hope to hear some responses soon, any help would be HUGELY appreciated!


Views: 343

Comment by Rich Brown on January 20, 2010 at 8:11am
Warping conventional 16:9 or 4:3 footage will produce unrealistic images every time. Avoid trying to do this -- at least to get started. With experience you can start trying to find situations where your images are unrealistic but you can get away with it anyway -- i.e. where you can fool people.

To get a full 180-degree picture using conventional lenses you need to use multiple cameras shooting at different angles and software to stitch the pictures together. This is what the Ladybug does internally.

If you're going to start with stills it would be hard to go wrong with a digital SLR camera with a fisheye lens. The nice thing here is even an inexpensive digital SLR will have _way_ more pixels than your projector. Look into renting lenses. For example, in the US I can rent a Sigma 4.5mm f/2.8 Circular Fisheye for about $75/week including shipping and shipping insurance. You may already own/know someone who owns/want the (consumer) Nikon digital SLR camera this lens works with. The Sigma may not be the greatest fisheye lens ever made, but it's perfectly serviceable and _within_your_budget_.

And consider smaller domes, at least to get started. A 1.5 or 2.0 meter dome will work for one person at a time. You can't get your whole body inside comfortably, but you can get your head and eyes in the center. Domes this small can be manufactured and transported in one piece, so there are no seams (which is important to you).
Comment by Mark C. Petersen on January 29, 2010 at 1:03pm
Hi, Helena.

Since you're just starting out and are "undercapitalized" (aren't we all?) here's some advice for what it's worth.

First, in general, check our the Fulldome Web Resources page on the Loch Ness Productions Web site: http://www.lochnessproductions.com/fulldome/fulldome_resources.html. We have lots of links to sources for hardware, software, domes, and more!

Dome -- "seamless" costs real money; it is not easy to do. Not inflatable is an admirable goal there too, but a solid structure 20ft in diameter will by default be heavy, decidedly cumbersome to move, and a major project to build. Check out what we do here at Loch Ness Productions:


It is not perfect, but works for our needs, and is relatively affordable -- less than US$800 for ours, 10 foot diameter. It should get you going quickly in your project, with a minimal outlay of cash.

Spherical mirror: yes, especially if you want to leave the center of the dome/space open for the patient/client/customer. But, as you've been directed, you can't bounce conventional video off it; the imagery must be warped fisheyes. So you need to start with fisheye source material -- either stills or movies. If you already know about spherical mirror projection, then you surely know about Paul Bourke's pages about it. And you know that his "WarpPlayer" will play QT movies and warp them on-the-fly for playback. If you're on a PC platform, there is no such realtime player, so you have to take a second step and "pre-warp" your movies first, then play them with conventional players. We made a PC version of Paul's TgaWarp program for the purpose: http://www.lochnessproductions.com/tools/tgawarper/tgawarper.html.

For your initial tests, you don't need a Ladybug. You can make fisheye movies for under US$200. Get a Sony Bloggie PM5K: [Linky]. The resolution won't be wonderful, and there will be a black hole at the zenith, but you'll learn a lot about how practical your whole concept is about projecting real, not CG, imagery. And it won't break the bank. Afterward, you will want to try to improve the quality of the imagery -- and that's where real money comes in, with more expensive cameras, lenses, and all.

Speakers: You can get some computer surround sound speakers and place them on the floor around the base of the dome. This will work fine for your small dome size. They don't need to be "up" for your immediate purposes.

Finally, for therapeutic music -- I can heartily recommend our Geodesium albums: http://www.lochnessproductions.com/geo/geo.html. Start with "A Gentle Rain Of Starlight" -- there are plenty of sound samples to audition on our site, and the usual online sources: Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, Napster, Rhapsody, and more.

Good luck!

>> Mark
Comment by Mark C. Petersen on January 29, 2010 at 1:10pm
P. S. You can search for fisheye videos shot with the Bloggie on YouTube. Uploading "automatically" to YouTube is one of its features, and people are doing just that.
Comment by Helena Doyle on February 3, 2010 at 9:08am
Rich and Mark thank you both so much for your feedback, it's really helpful! I haven't had much time to implement the knowledge yet but will get going and report back and I'm sure I'll have loads more questions to follow!

Comment by Carsten Fulland on March 6, 2010 at 7:42am
Comment by david carson on March 22, 2010 at 9:00am
Comment by david carson on March 26, 2010 at 5:54am
Comment by Paul Mowbray on May 5, 2010 at 6:59am
Are you aware the BAP conference is this weekend in Winchester at Intech science centre? There will be a few portables there that you could check out.

Another low cost live capture video option is a canon G7(or higher) camera plus a lens converter such as the Opteka x.20 http://opteka.com/opteka20xhighdefinitionprofessionalsuperaffisheye...

You will only get SD quality video but gives you a full circular image. Depending on the usage this will stand-up to a point on a very small dome but is generally a good tool for getting used to "domeogrophy" before hiring a RED camera or other more expensive kit.

Will try and upload some G7 fisheye footage when I get chance.

Here is a simple test shot with a 5DmkII and Sigma 8mm fisheye lens

Comment by david carson on November 15, 2010 at 6:52pm
on this week in perth australia


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