2012 FullDome Festival Diary - Day 1

It's big, it's nice, it's part of history: the Zeiss planetarium in Jena hosts the 2012 edition of the FullDome Festival, which has grown to be a must-attend event of the international fulldome industry agenda.

Could we miss it? No way! Surely not. We made a 10 hour journey and attended the first day of the festival, which couldn't have gone better!

As soon as we took position under the dome, the lights went off and we could hear sounds and noises all around us. Something is cracking above us… no, wait, it's behind us… it moves… in a 3D space! Then something happens: a dome's tile slips away and a little ray of light comes in. The dome is breaking apart! Then, the "FullDome Festival" logo kicks in: "Dissolving Space", a phrase that is much more than just a motto.

Introducing the FullDome Festival 2012Micky Remann welcomes everyone at the festival and introduces the staff members who produced the great short intro we just saw. The mic is then handed off to Volkmar Schorcht, of Zeiss, who greetings us and thanks the sponsors who helped with many aspects of the event: the Zeiss Planetarium, Zeiss itself, Sky-Skan, Bowen Technovation, Bauhaus-Universitat Weimar, Hessische Film and Liquidsound.

Lights are off again, it's now time of the first fulldome show of the event: "Perfect Little Planet" by Clark Planetarium Productions (Salt Lake City, USA), a funny yet very informative journey throughout the solar system aimed to find out the perfect spot for an alien family's space vacation. While on their journey they discover how all planets are very different from each other, with none of them suiting their needs. Well, of course, one of them will, but we won't be spoiling it here!

The next show is "Supernovas Company", produced by the Spanish company Ilusa Media. The show is very original, both because of the graphics style used - which literally unfolds each part of the scene while creating a very nice looking effect - and because of the entire narration is done with rhymes, how brilliant is that?! A great movie for kids!

It's now time of "Across the Universe", by Procyon Movie Productions. The movie is intended to be unidirectional but it would also please panoramic theaters as many sequences would work great for circular seats too. It's the story of the two Voyagers missions told with great science value from a technology overview of the probes to the real data acquired. Visuals are very good, with great scenes as well: a nice looking model of the solar system, a beautiful scene with one of Saturn's moons within its rings and the final animation on Triton.

One more to go before the break, it's now the turn of "A Starry Tale", by Kagaya Studios. One thing is sure, this show is damn original! One might say that's a show about constellation and mythology, but the thing is, there is much more. Both colors, scenes and music are just terrific, and the storytelling keeps your eyes locked from start to end. The narration is inspirational and evocative, a story of hope and faith for the future. By the end of the show, the public was just crazy and a big applause celebrated it.

After a 30 minute break, where nice local food was served, back again under the dome with "Lamps of Atlantis", by Evans & Sutherland. One of the first things you learn when it comes to Computer Graphics is that water is one of the most difficult thing to create in a virtual scene. Well, the show delivers one of the best and most beautiful water effects so far. The story is intriguing and there are nice time-lapse sequences as well as a well-made explanation of how the equinox precesses works to make it a valuable show.

The festival goes on from the weather on Earth to "The wildest weather of the solar system", by National Geographics. Man, what an epic intro! The story kicks in with a imaginary spacecraft equipped with probes able to explore each of the planets of the solar system, each of them recreated with beautiful models. Great particulars as well as fluids effects help the audience to better understand how the weather is on each planet, with clear animations that explain what the dynamic is underneath.

From an American production to a French one, "Planets", by Astronef. But the show is not only about planets, is also about how they formed and came to be. Science comes all the way along with some great visuals and 3D animation such as the formation of our Moon and a great landscape on Mars and a very nice (and crowded!) sequence of Saturn and its rings, with well designed camera movements.

A very passionate narration comes out of "Hayabusa: Back to Earth", produced by Hayabusa Dome-Movies Production Committee. The show has a nice intro, with the camera looking at the Earth and the rocket trail appearing from the bottom: it's the story of a bad luck probe, yet with an happy ending, the mission aimed to bring back home a piece of asteroid. To explain scientific data of the asteroid's mass distribution, the producer came up with a great scene of the asteroid itself sliced down in half with the camera moving through: nice!

From the past to "The Future", a corporate production by Airbus, which shares its call on how the future might be, from a technological point of view. Visuals are just awesome: green screen live footage is merged with 3D computer graphics animation taking advantage of motion controlled techniques, indeed a very challenging task. The storytelling keeps the audience engaged and gains another big ovation at the end. "Time flies" hasn't been more appropriate!

Last but not least is "Magic of the Otherworld", by Mediendom Kiel. It's late, only a few stay over but it's worth it, because this show is very different from the others: it's all about combining together great music and great virtual scenes. It seems that a Celtic harp is being played by nature itself, but it's not. As soon as you realize it, you start looking around for the lady who plays it, and you find yourself lost wondering about how beautiful our world is. The show delivers great landscapes, with trees that quite often seem real ones. The day passes by, the sun sets and the night comes, with many bubbles and a flying ship lightened by a beautiful moonlight. It was definitely worth stay over for this one.

The first day of the FullDome Festival is already over. Excitement is all around.

Don't miss the great leaflet's editorial and stay tuned for more from Jena!

FullDome Festival 2012 Editorial

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