Matthew Mascheri, President of Dome3D has what you might call 360 vision when it comes to the possibilities of digital dome (“fulldome”) video. He and his team produced amusement park ride show called “SpacePark360,” an animated, amusement park ride POV fulldome production. He’s highly visible in the planetarium community and also establishing himself in the attractions industry, VR and gaming. Now Dome3D is hard at work on “SpacePark360: Infinity” featuring a rocking Geodesium soundtrack by Mark C. Petersen.
Matt and his team are also extending the visualization capability of fulldome content creation through the use of DLSR cameras, and the Freedom360 and GP185 fulldome camera kits that allow producers to create stunning visual sequences from real-life scenes.
Matt got his start in fulldome at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, before branching out to create Dome3D with art director Michael J. Narlock and 3D animator and VFX artist Jason M. Heaton. Whether it’s working on the latest camera rigs or seeking ways to deliver content quickly through new technologies, Matt Mascheri has his eye on the best ways to open up fulldome production. On the eve of IMERSA Summit 2014, where Mascheri is on the organizing committee and participating in several professional development sessions, Carolyn Collins Petersen of Loch Ness Productions talked with him about his well-rounded visions of the fulldome universe.
You’ve been producing fulldome content for much of your career. What are some of the biggest issues that you think fulldome producers face?
That is a truly loaded question! From the production side, it is keeping up with the demands of high-resolution content creation for theaters. While Dome3D currently produces content at 4K, as more 8K theaters come online they will expect native 8K content. This will impact production workflow greatly, from rendering, data transfer, and storage, to delivery and archiving.
In terms of delivery and digital rights management (DRM), it is taking more and more time to prep content as there is an ever-increasing number of systems out there, and DRM has always been a great concern for producers. The costs of creating content continue to increase, in terms of both money and time, and producers continue to struggle with the fact that with no universal DRM in place, content can find its way out into the wild and on to other systems.
Describe the new technologies you’re working with that are transforming fulldome production and content delivery.
To me, the Freedom360 and GP185 fulldome camera kits (which made its debut at the 2013 IMERSA Summit) are game-changing technologies. They deliver the ability for producers to capture and produce high quality live action content not only for their domes, but a variety of delivery methods including the Web, mobile devices and VR devices like the Oculus Rift. For the last year or so, the Rift has become a staple in Dome3D’s production workflow. With the Oculus Dev Kit (DK1) we now have a portable dome theater and 360 VR environment on demand. It really is an incredible device.
Where do you see fulldome content going in the next few years?
I feel that the next few years are going to bring massive changes to the fulldome world, especially in how content is produced, the variety of available content. We’ve already seen more entertainment and experimental productions being produced, a wider variety of educational topics are starting to make their way to the dome as well. In only a few years the dome has gone from displaying green stars and using star ball projectors to VJ’s creating real-time abstract patterns, fantastic roller coaster and thrill rides, full-motion video capture, commercial entities using the dome for advertising purposes and even theme parks using the dome (again) as a 3D / 4D / XD ride! These next few years will be incredible for the immersive theater industry and I’m excited to have the opportunity to play a role in it.
What’s your take on the direction of immersive media beyond the dome?
Immersive media, on multiple platforms, has begun to infiltrate the mass market . It has left the dome and this movement will only continue to expand. Times are changing, content is changing, there are more producers in the game, the way producers are creating content is shifting, there is so much happening – so fast – in this industry, it is crazy. I’m loving every moment of it!
Matt Mascheri will be chairing several workshops at the IMERSA Summit, (March 6-9 in Denver) including “Breaking the CGI Barrier using DSLR,” “Live Action Photography for Fulldome,” a joint session on Maya/Blender usage, and storage and render farm issues and their implications for data management and archiving.