The Elumenati brings media-based immersion to visitor attractions
by Hilary McVicker
Since launching our GeoDome™ program in 2008, The Elumenati has deployed more than 80 systems – with applications ranging from NASA and NOAA outreach programs to experiential marketing, medical research, and entertainment.
ABOVE: The Virginia Tech Cyclorama. Courtesy The Elumenati
While we also build custom installations and offer components to designers, the GeoDome represents our line of turnkey immersive environments, including digital video globes, panoramas and large-scale dome theaters. Each GeoDome includes an immersive screen, projection system, image generating computer, and WorldViewer, our interactive platform for immersive media.
We’re especially pleased that in the past year this technology has enabled two outstanding facilities, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology at Virginia Tech, to create unique, media-based, immersive experiences.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan Panorama
A GeoDome Panorama is part of an exhibit on Muslim culture at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM). A recent New York Times profile reports that more than 350,000 visitors have explored the exhibit since it launched in February 2016. In the Panorama, museum visitors explore the interiors of mosques around the world. Placing a single OmniFocus fisheye projector overhead means energetic kids can stand inside the dome’s 210-degree sweep, and move around close to the screen without casting shadows.
The CMOM project demonstrates the workflow we intended when we developed WorldViewer as a creative tool for our clients. It gives clients options for producing and modifying their own interactive media content for domes as they choose (with our support as needed). For CMOM’s Panorama, the museum exhibit team provided the narrative and sourced 360 images
of the mosques, and then dropped them into the WorldViewer framework to build an interactive. The Elumenati provided training and support as they integrated the images; we also provided templates the team used to build a customized GUI for the touchscreen user interface.
The project worked so well that CMOM purchased a second GeoDome system for a new exhibit on dance, opening later this year – this time a Portal. At this writing, our development team is collaborating with them on the new exhibit’s WorldViewer content.
While it’s a straightforward tool for keeping museum content evergreen, WorldViewer has also evolved into a highly capable tool with complex features for advanced users. It’s a media mashup tool that allows our users to incorporate the plethora of immersive media that has become freely available, from 360 video to Google Earth. Advanced OSC controls for scripting and external triggers mean that our systems can be easily integrated with show control.
Virginia Tech Cyclorama
WorldViewer can be combined with other Elumenati software platforms for more complex installations, like the 360-degree Cyclorama – a VR experience for up to 60 people – we built at Virginia Tech’s multi-disciplinary arts and research institute in 2016. It’s a rapidly deployable screen, 32’ in diameter and 16’ high, lit by four, edge-blended OmniFocus projection systems with laser light engines.
The system debuted a new iteration of WorldViewer for an active stereo Cyclorama with 8K combined resolution, supporting both stereoscopic and non-stereoscopic video. This version of WorldViewer incorporates the Spout application launcher, so Virginia Tech staff can drive content from their own VR data visualization platform. Our Omnity plugin for the Unity game engine makes it simple to port interactive content into the Cyclorama. Our system delivers warped and blended, 120Hz stereo movies at 4K resolution per screen from a single Windowsbased machine.
Collaborating with the team at Virginia Tech’s Institute of Creative Arts and Technology was a great experience. The project illustrates the way effective solutions emerge when the client’s team and our team join forces to bring the best of both in terms of expertise and creativity. Custom project design serves as a form of R&D in the field, through which new approaches and designs emerge and enrich our product line and what clients can do with it.
We find that a comprehensive approach is ideal. Our clients work with a single point of contact for their dome, projection system, software, content, and integration, as well as long-term support.
About The Elumenati
The Elumenati’s founders pioneered technologies that have become standards in the field of immersive technology. The company was founded in 2004. As we’ve evolved along with the industry, The Elumenati has developed a broad spectrum of applications for museums, planetariums, theme park attractions and other visitor experiences.
Our domes and panoramas are a fun way to bring the “wow” factor to theme park experiences. Using visualization allows our museum clients to communicate complex data-based concepts and systems principles. Marketers need effective communication tools to make their branding stick, and business applications like architectural visualization and medical research are finding immersive screens a pragmatic alternative to VR headsets.
Our work happens along three channels – the GeoDome product line, custom installations, and work with integrators. We provide components and complete systems for integrators who are incorporating immersion into their own designs – OmniFocus projection systems, OpenDomes and globes, and software platforms for content creation and display. Leading design and integration firms appreciate the proven quality of our systems and our ability to offer emerging technologies like ultra-high resolution and laser light engines, as well as upgrade paths for future-proofing. It’s our goal to build systems that are as efficient as they are elegant – such as fisheye systems that are simple and cost-effective, and competitive with multiple flat-screen projection, from installation to long-term maintenance. Our software solutions are designed to optimize clients’ resources for content creation and systems integration.
Even when working with integrators, we maintain a comprehensive approach. We engage with our clients to look pragmatically at the complete system, starting with the desired user experience and choosing products to build the technology from there. We find this design philosophy supports maximum return on investment. • • •
Hilary McVicker ([email protected]) is Communicatrix at The Elumenati – a title that would translate to VP of Sales and Marketing at most companies. A background in communications and new media led to several years in the videogame industry, providing resources and creating community for game developers. Joining The Elumenati in 2008 was the next step in a career focused on the business of interactive technologies and their meaningful application.