A Dramatic Sun Sequence for the NASA -Buhl Planetarium "Solar Quest" fulldome planetarium show


Working with Buhl Planetarium at Carnegie Science Center to create a 10 minute fulldome planetarium program called "Solar Quest," Home Run Pictures needed to create a fulldome view of the Sun. The program would hilight the NASA Solar Dynamics Laboratory (SDO) spacecraft's amazing imagery of the Sun. The video imagery that SDO captures is quite amazing and show incredable detail in our nearest star... so the immersive views of the Sun had to be comparable.


Home Run Pictures' animator Glen Johnson was tasked with creating the animation for the Sun. To accomplish this Glen spent 5 months of production time using Maya's FluidEfx capabilities and thousands of lines of proprietary MEL code. The various features on the Sun's surface include flares, promenances, twisting vortexes, sunspots, arching magnetic loops and coronal mass ejections... all which required different implimentations within Maya to achieve a realistic look.


Hundreds of "containers" with fluid emitters were programmed and then placed around the central "sun-surface" sphere, then multiplied by creating instances of the same at various random places around the surface. A flight path was then animated to allow th eviewer to experience the various solar events in an immersive manner, passing under a promenance or over a sunspot.


The complexity of what was scripted also required the studio to create and write a new fulldome camera so that views could be previewed during the animation production pipeline. The camera allowed offsetting the view to avoid passing through the fluids and to vary the field of view of the virtual lens as needed to accomplish a dramatic ride through the environment of the Sun's atmosphere.


The "Solar Quest" program is being distributed to 50 planetariums as part of the NASA grant to further an understanding of the Sun and the mission of the Solar Dynamics Laboratory.

Click here for Quicktime movie of Solar Quest Sun sequence

An "Inside the Production" how-it-was-done description is available giving further details at our Fulldome@HomeRunPictures web page... CLICK TO GO THERE

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