Fulldome technological challenges and developing artistic strategies

Fulldome is a challenging way of projection into an immersive dome environment.  Although there is a number of cg animations that take advantage of this way of projection like abstract animations and space or underwater environments. Today artists are wanting to push the boundaries to be able to produce all the possible types of screens.

Previous productions that were tried to overcome fulldome production challenges only show how hard it is to keep the well developed visual standards of a flat screening and put it inside dome environment.

In my opinion, the “traditional” old composition techniques are not suitable for much bigger and immersive dome space. Lots of the projections look small and they lack of fully and smart use of the screening environment. They focus the action mostly in front of the view space with the background stretched to surround the viewer. The effects on sides and from behind the viewer are rare and seem to strain the space. Another composition challenge is a life action productions demanding great resolution digital cameras with fisheye lenses and action with real actors. Traditional storytelling techniques have to be rethought before adjusting to this difficult environment. There is also a lack of filmmaking conventions that would be immediately understood by the audience. Some new solutions are a surprise to an audience. The new emerging form of art is a completely new and challenging field for an audience and artists. It demands to abandon old filmmaking paradigms and rethink it from the scratch.

Not only the composition is a challenge in a fulldome field. Technological equipment still puts great demands on artists. Rendering time is a problem mentioned by almost every artist who tried this production. Another is resolution and colour quality including black level and bright displays that look transparent on the dome screen and show the dome stitches, single or multiple projection, depth between foreground and a background. There is also a big difficulty to keep the vertical and horizontal lines straight.

Thereby the content of a fuldome displays is limited by those technical and technological difficulties. Space environments, underwater, human anatomy, clouds, tunnels to travel through in a great speed (blood veins, space-time tunnels, roller coasters, narrow corridors, etc) and abstract animation are the most explored ones.

I would like to focus on new software and hardware technologies that are being developed recently. On a Fulldome UK 2014 festival I was able to listen talks and discussion about technologies that have improved since last two years (since last Fulldome UK festival). Artists were raising the topic of emerging technologies that can open the door for easier, cheaper and more advanced production as well as popularise the field among filmmakers and 3D artists. Portable fulldomes, new software, plugins to an existing software, clouds, databases and social media, and mostly about artists who use it and how they use it.

Manga Eyes vs Vanga Mouth

The Online Intervention Report

My intervention which is called “This Ugly Manga” was to get into manga fans society with the message, that was expressed in the Manifesto. My main purpose was to show how repetitive and unified are manga drawings and how unnatural and grotesquely it looks. I wanted  to sensitize that human face has more beauty and emotion expressions. My biggest concern about the popular manga style is its uniformity that follows with simplicity. It takes too much attention of young people who would like to draw from the other ways of expression and styles. The other schools of drawing are invisible as overwhelmed with manga tutorials and examples.

I follow the Theodor Adorno main concept of pseudo-individualization and the always-the-same phenomenon. (Adorno 1989) and also David Nye concept of technology impact on cultural uniformity, its homogenization, and great annihilation of cultural differences. (Nye 2006) The problem I wanted to highlight is not the geographical spreading of manga style but its overwhelming majority  over other styles. To say it in less serious way: I am afraid that the Dark Age of drawing is coming.

My Manifesto was written with strong language, that could be maybe a little to harsh for this purpose, but I wanted to maximize the power of it. Please read it here : “This Ugly Manga”.

I started with a video tutorial on youtube. It was a parody of video drawing tutorials on how to draw manga faces. “Vanga Mouth Tutorial“. I have made it useing  Camstudio- Recorder and Adobe Photoshop software. Instead of drawing big eyes I put attention to enormous mouth that has unnatural shape. I keep few manga conventions to keep my drawing related to this style: pointy chin face, popular manga hair style, and pointy little nose. Typical for manga lack of mouth I use in this case in way of drawing eyes. “Not important at all”.

I started spamming the video and website with manifest across the DeviantArt portal, 4chan, and youtube tutorials as a related video to manga tutorials. I have published the Manifesto on my DeviantArt profile “zValnoru” (where you can also find some interesting responds on it) and I was using some of the paragraphs of it in comments directly under some user profiles in manga and anime category. I was avoiding those whose publications were more like a child drawings.  I had to change the spams often as DeviantArt were recently blocking them after 40 – 50 spams. I used Youtube but it was also blocked after 10 connections. 4chan was the most difficult to use as it asked me to rewrite the verification words every time. I sent the open manifesto letters to Manga Fan Clubs I have found through Google search. I wanted to use polish art portal DigArt but I reminded myself that one year ago I got upset with them for removing one of my pictures and I told myself to not to use it ever again.

As a result, I find my intervention successful as I brought not only the result that was aimed but also some that I did not expect. The aim was to convert some of manga artist from that style and I think that some of the responds showed that they agree with me. And they understand my point of view. Those voices were from those who read the Manifesto. Few replies agreed with my words and said they understand what i meant. Few people got the joke side of the intervention. They understood that the nonsense I am talking in the tutorial is just a parody.

Secondly, some younger users were upset with my harsh words, and as I felt bad about them I replied to those who could be hurt, that “I don’t take it serious. This is just a uni exercise and they should draw as much as they want and in the style they want.”

Thirdly I got some angry responds from adult artists. Some of them gave me really brutal respond back. And I think this was also a successful result as it meant that my message was received and understood. Some artists answered in more polite way, that they thank me for my opinion.

I also received division replies, that manga is an art as others and some of the artists are excellent. They were also using the argument that it is more and more popular (the one I was trying to highlight and use as a disadvantage). They told me that manga is very difficult and it takes many years to get this level of drawing. “It is not for beginners”.

Finally, few people didn’t understand the film at all. I have got some replies like: wtf? or just question marks. To those people I also sent the explanation replies. And also some people misunderstand my intentions and politely replied that the tutorial was useful and they will keep coming back and recommend it to friends.

In conclusion, I see the intervention as successful and it is more and more popular every week. To improve it I could make the video in more silly way. To make it more obvious that it is a parody. I would have it done in the more Monty Python way, like dressing up myself like an well bred artist in chest trousers and beret with a feather and behave in the Monty Python way. Maybe it looked too serious. Viewers could take the tutorial from the first sight as something for real.

Reference list:

Adorno, T. (1989) Introduction to the Sociology of Music, Continuum. New York.

Nye, D. (2006) Technology Matters. London: The MIT Press.

Battleship Battle

I was working on the new processing game for more then a week now and what I have got so far is: background (yeah!!), one ship that appears randomly on the screen, and four grids. I have made four of them because I had ambition to make it work on-line and with an option for players to set up the position of their own ships in the beginning of the game. Now after a chat with Simon I am going to keep it simple and if that works and I still have some more time I will try to extend it.