Some observations on live action shooting for dome and/or immersive media… first the ideas along a technical vein, and/or camera related…

  1. more complex interiors… work better, make more sense of the surrounding screen… especially work better than a simple outdoor shot of wide sky and faraway horizon, as the horizon tends to get lost along the springline, especially if using a fisheye lens with more blur and color aberrations at the edge. (especially on a dome which arches over head as opposed to the mirrordome which is a more forward view)
  2. pace, esp transitions… we have long known that dome time is slower, requires more time to mentally process. Our minds simply require longer to parse, react to, understand an immersive view. Since we can’t grab it all in one focused glance as we can on a computer screen we simply need longer to know what we are seeing. And this certainly seems just as true with live action. I did notice, however, that a simple, familiar shot parses more quickly than a dome which is either divided in a non-usual way, be it by regions or strangely shaped spaces, or a computer generated, non-real space. Even in the straight live action shots, those in which the camera was placed in an unusual position in relation to the scene/viewer… or those shot in unusually shaped surroundings…  required a little extra time to orient. We need to understand and work with that little bit of extra time needed to orient. Whether that is to give a beat before expecting the viewer to catch and or undertstand something… or making use of that disorientation to enhance an effect.
  3. lighting, palette... color, resolution, etc… the images attainable from most available video will have a softer focus due to lack of resolution as compared to much more hi-res computer generated fulldome content… and lighting will of course very much determine the color palette(s) possible… due to the character of immersive projection in 2011, this lower res and flatter palette will interact with cross bounce and projector/system issues to create a softer, lower contrast image than we may be used to… which of course needs to be considered when making content choices… how best to work within these params for now.
  4. camera rigs… of course we all know the cameras will “catch up to our current needs for fulldome… whether it be larger and larger chips, or multi-camera rigs, or even a new paradigm shift… but will fulldome allow it to catch up? or will scale continue to outpace? A few years ago, 4K domes were the new “biggest ever,” now we have 8K domes.

But I (and many others) still maintain good content, a good story, compelling imagery, will always outweigh the limitations of resolution and light projection. What these live action early experiments have most to offer is the beginnings of an immersive film vocabulary, an understanding of what is compelling, what works best, and how this medium will continue to grow.