Virtual Immersive Storytelling Experiences at Home Run Pictures


Planetariuns around the world today have the capability to fill their big immersive domes with HD video streams. The "fulldome" experience that Home Run Pictures was one of the very first to create content for, uses multiple 4K video projectors [as many as 12 or more] to fill the dome with high-definition 8K imagery. This immersive experience was a forerunner to the virtual reality concept, and in many ways is superior since it removes the need to wear a headset. The audience experiences a "you-are-there" immersive feeling being able to look around at the visual environment and even at times having to grab on to their arm rests because of the realism of motion.

Animators at Home Run Pictures using special software camera tools, create an animated immersive 360 degree field of view circular image frame by frame that then is projected onto the dome surface to complete the immersive effect. In this particular sequence, a futuristic scenario of a NASA spacecraft diving into the atmosphere of the gas giant Uranus, was created for a NASA funded educational show that explored visits to all of the planets in our solar system. You can watch a clip in 360 video fashion at the Home Run Pictures YouTube Channel. Fulldome storytelling is similar, but not the same as typical cinematic formats. Since the view is frameless, the storyteller must understand that the audience is immersed in the scene and free to look wherever they want to. Also, it is necessary to properly use the entire 360 degree view to be effective and cause the viewer to want to look around as they would in real life, since life is an immersive experience. Other fulldome experiences can be explored at our Fulldome Showcase.

Studies have discovered that what the audience experiences in an immersive fulldome environment is more memorable than traditional framed-flatscreen presentations. Educational studies where a topic was presented and students tested immediately afterwards and then again six weeks later show a remarkable advantage with an immersive environment representation. Students experiencing a program in a framed-flatscreen environment retained 30% of what they learned six weeks later as compared to the students in a fulldome program environment retaining an amazing 100%.


Game play can be successfully used as an educational learning tool, but gameplay in an immersive environment may hold the same effectiveness as what was experienced in the fulldome studies mentioned above. The Houston Museum of Natural Science tasked Home Run Pictures with creating a game about coral reefs. The museum has an "Expidition Center." In this facility visiting student groups can be involved in a simulation of a "NASA mission-control-like" learning experience. Each student sits at a "station" in front of a monitor and keyboard and is given a different task similar to what happens during a space flight mission... navigator, telemetry, pilot, etc.

The initial use of the coral reef game was in the "real life immersive" Expidition Center, but there also is another variation of the game that is played in small portable domes, similar to those children's special event inflatables, a small fan is used to inflate a dome with an air-lock entrance that you step into. Inside a single projector is used with a fisheye lens or convex mirror to fill the dome with video from a laptop running a game app cabable of outputing a 360 degree view... so it's a VR headset view without the headset. The pilot's control unit is a standard game controller. In this game the players control a small Remote Operated Vehicle or ROV to explor a coral reef searching for different species of coral or sea life, and even can search for sunken treasure from an old Spanish shipwreck.

Again, the view is a complete 360 degree immersive experience underwater with the reef, sharks, sea turtles, fish and sunken treasure to find. A short video capture of the experience can be seen at the Home Run Pictures YouTube Channel. Once again, creating for this immersive effect requires some thoughtful understanding as to what makes a virtual reality experience feel "virtually" real.


In another fulldome immersive program, the audience was allowed to experience first-hand and up-close a NASA astronaut team exploring an asteroid. This is a virtual simulation of an actual NASA planned mission to a Near-Earth-Object, the asteroid 433 EROS, produced by Home Run Pictures for the Louisiana Art & Science Museum and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Existing NASA hardware curent or future design was used to create the vision so it would be a scientifically plausable correct look.

Here, an almost one-to-one projected scale was used as a visual tool to enhance the idea to the audience that this is a "you-are-there" experience in the large planetarium domes where the program is viewed. Both inside the cockpit of any of the vehicles used or floating alongside one of the astronauts as they explore outside, the viewers can feel an almost real sensation of weightlessness.

The program can also be experienced in the smaller portable inflatable domes and a 360 video style clip is available at the Home Run Pictures YouTube Channel. Other fulldome experiences can be explored at our Fulldome Showcase.


A very popular topic that began when Home Run Pictures was tasked with the creation of animation and visual effects for a six part documentary series airing on the Discovery channel... then made it's way to the fulldome world as an immersive program and then on to the Expidition Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and finally now is a virtual game playable in the small portable inflatable domes. Here the player gets to explore the wreck of the Titanic 2-1/2 miles below on the ocean floor using an ROV [Remotely Operated Vehicle] just like actual explorers would. The 360 degree view gives the educational game player an experience that only those few scientists have had on a North Atlantic expedition to the sinking site... to explore the deck of the ship, go inside the hull and possibly find the wireless room, the first-class dining room, the bottom deck boilers and other areas. A short video capture of the experience can be seen at the Home Run Pictures YouTube Channel. And check out this link for more detailed look behind the creation of the Titanic Exploration game .


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