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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After going to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago some time ago, I got to take a quick look into the behind-the-scenes. I think they had several CRT guns and quite a lot of expensive electronics. I was quite impressed and I'm sure it cost over a million dollars.


Anyway, this got me thinking about having one of these suckers for my very own--a Home Planetarium/Home Theater. Massively reclining seats a la the IMAX theater in San Jose. Swivel cup holders guaranteed never to spill a drop. A gorgeous domed screen with speakers behind it. The works.


Now at first blush this might seem like an expensive or nearly impossible endeavor, but is it really? Once we get video wall capability on an HTPC (sure to happen within the next year or so), what's to say that we can't have a home planetarium with four or six DLP projectors?


Has anybody tried this before? Would it be best to split up the planetarium/theater functions?


The screen seems like the biggest technical roadblock and it would seem that it might be tough to find content...


So what do you guys think?


------------------

Dan


p.s. Yes, this a Mr. Wiggles soft ball. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif


[This message has been edited by dschmelzer (edited 06-24-2001).]
 

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So glad you asked.


I could build you one for a lot less than million dollars.


For your information, the Burke Baker Planetarium here in Houston, TX uses a system called Skyvision to create a seamless image on a 50' dome hemisphere.


Essentially a rendered or production 2200 * 2200 video image is broken up into 7 segments to be projected on to the dome via 7 barco 1209's 9" CRT projectors.


The result is quite stunning with the only shortcoming of the system being a slight lack in brightness. The Barco projector's are $38K high output models but don't quite have the punch to project onto a 50' .55 gain surface. (The .55 is used to help reduce cross reflections; a 1.0 surface would be a nightmare.)


Anyway, if you are ever in the area, we are the only people currently doing recorded video presentations on a full dome. The 250 million dollar Hayden in New York doesn't use rastered graphics but vector graphics instead which are rastered real time via some top notch SGI machines. Are system uses 7 simple decked out PIII PCs playing back our 7 section mpeg2 streams. And because we are rastered before hand, we can actually show people and video clips.


The Hayden plays back on a 70' dome and uses 12" (yes 12") Barco projectors.


We would love to get something different than CRT's but it will take something with a >2000:1 on/off contrast ratio to suit our needs. The only digital projector that I know of that can do it is the ZULIP from Zeiss which would cost about $3 million for a full set-up.


Aren't you glad you asked?


-Mr. Wigggles


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The Mothership is now boarding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Absolutely, I'm glad I asked! That's cool that you get to play with this stuff. Have you tried to play an HDTV stream on the dome, such as Runaway Universe?


If I'm understanding you correctly, then the projectors make seven hexagon-like shapes on the screen.


Some things that I'm wondering about...
  • Would the fill factor of a DLP be way too low?
  • Could you use optics, like the Panamorph, to increase light output and perceived contrast over the surface area?
  • In the current configuration, how do the P3s synchronize the frame flips?
  • How many frames per second do these puppies put out?
  • Would 7 digital projectors have sufficient light output for a 25' diameter screen, for instance?
  • Are these .55 gain screens perfed?


The reason why I immediately glom on to these DLP projectors is that they're so small and they have uniform brightness over the projected area. I can imagine a quite special room configuration would be needed if you had even 7 D-ILAs, since they're so large.


The contrast figures you're quoting are just plain huge.


Btw, 12" CRTs make me drool. One of these weekends, I'll take the train up to the city to check it out.


------------------

Dan


[This message has been edited by dschmelzer (edited 06-24-2001).]
 

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Wiggles,


Remember when Tom Stites was telling us about a planetarium that just purchased 10 (yes, TEN) of the QXGA1 D-ILAs for their set-up?


Do you remember where that was? Do you remember how they were going to install them?


Ten of those suckers total more than ninety-million pixels!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by dschmelzer:
Absolutely, I'm glad I asked! That's cool that you get to play with this stuff. Have you tried to play an HDTV stream on the dome, such as Runaway Universe?


We have put HDTV on one projector. We haven't "sliced" it yet but we would like to. We are in the process of upgrading to Alcorn McBride Mpeg playback cards. They will allow us to do something like that. The thought of watching Gladiator accross the front three sections.

If I'm understanding you correctly, then the projectors make seven hexagon-like shapes on the screen.


You got it; with plenty of edge blending.
  • Would the fill factor of a DLP be way too low?
  • Could you use optics, like the Panamorph, to increase light output and perceived contrast over the surface area?
  • In the current configuration, how do the P3s synchronize the frame flips?
  • How many frames per second do these puppies put out?
  • Would 7 digital projectors have sufficient light output for a 25' diameter screen, for instance?
  • Are these .55 gain screens perfed?



Fill factor is fine. I put my Thumperized UP-1100 on the dome at one point. It has the res and brightness; but it doesn't have the contrast.


The projected shapes are hexagons like you mentioned. They are 1:1 aspect ratio. I am not sure how a panamorph would help.


Sync is done by a master pc.


60 frames per second


7 digital projectors would have plenty of light output. A 25' dome has one quarter the surface area of a 50' dome.


The .55 includes the perf.

The reason why I immediately glom on to these DLP projectors is that they're so small and they have uniform brightness over the projected area. I can imagine a quite special room configuration would be needed if you had even 7 D-ILAs, since they're so large.


The contrast figures you're quoting are just plain huge.



Panorama style presentation is pretty easy to do with digital projectors. A little bit of masking and you are done. There is a 5 projector theater in Pittsburg that does this with 5 UP-880's.


The super contrast d-ilas would work for a 360 degree panorama but they would struggle trying to do a dome configuration. Where ever there was overlap, you would have "blacks" that were twice as bright as the "blacks" for the rest of the image. Masking at the projector might be possible but the mask would have to be away from the projector at least 10 feet or so for focusing reasons. The dome itself could be painted a darker gray where the overlap occurs, but that would be somewhat tedious and would leave a surface that would only be suitable for the video system. It might also be quite ugly when the house lights come up.

Btw, 12" CRTs make me drool. One of these weekends, I'll take the train up to the city to check it out.


It is quite impressive. I highly recommend it mainly from an architectural point of view (our system's better http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif )
Mark,


I think that theater is in Denver but I think they are only going to use the normal SXGA+ d-ila's. I also don't know if it is going panorama or hemisphere type theater.


-Mr. Wigggles


------------------

The Mothership is now boarding.
 

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I thought I would resurrect this thread with the advent of the new Matrox Paraphelia. With it's extended FOV capabilitys I think we are one step closer to this. It's interesting that Matrox mentions IMAX capability. It also sports dual dvi output (with a third as an option) and probably bandwith to cope in lower res apps.

http://www.matrox.com/mga
 

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I actually did the home planetarium thing last weekend. Results are mixed, to say the least.

I have a small 8'x9' bedroom. I set an LT150 aiming straight up from the floor, (It's in a hushbox, needless to say, it didn't hush very well.), and got a bit over 5' diagonal on the ceiling. Totally light controlled- I used to sleep there when working Owl shifts.

I tried SkyChart III and Celestia 1.2.2 on an iBook. These are software designed around various astronomical themes. Unfortunately, what makes good visuals on a monitor doesn't work out on a ceiling- everything looked washed out, and the representation of brighter stars was by size, rather than intensity.

But Celestia has the most potential; it's being ported to everything and has an enthusiastic open-source following. With some nudging, they might develop a projection version; all the bits are there.

I haven't tried all the features of either package yet... for fun, I popped in a couple of DVDs. Instant vertigo with parts of Fifth Element...
http://www.shatters.net/celestia/
 

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I've got a program called "Starry Night Pro" That has the ability to place you at any point in the galaxy and let you see the view from that point. You can also superimpose the constellations on the sky or watch the 'earth-rise' from the Moon. It may not be a planetarium but it IS pretty cool. And although I don't have first-hand experience with an HTPC, I think it would be great for anyone willing to part with the $100 to see it on the big screen.



(And hey BTW...That Wigggles guy really knows his s**t, who'd of guessed?...a guy from Houston?!? I was born there so I know!;))
 

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Mr. Wiggles:


I am also interested in this but for business purposes. I want to offer a service to my clients that allows them to perform highly realistic 3D walk-throughs of their homes (homes not yet built). I would like at least 7 people to be able to participate, preferrably more. I have been looking at this: http://www.elumens.com/products/products.html

What else would you recommend? Any thoughts you can share would be appreciated.
 

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Thanks to Mr. wiggles for mentioning Hayden Panetarium which I've never heard off. Now I am going to have to take some time off to check it out and see this just released show:


SDSC Creates Spectacular Animation for Hayden Planetarium's New Show

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO -- "The Search for Life: Are We Alone?", the new space theater show at the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium, premiered March 2 in New York to rave reviews. The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) played an important role in creating a realistic animation showing the birth of our solar system.



The "Hayden Nebula" is a visualization of the cloud of dust and gas from

which our solar system formed. This image is from an eight-minute video

sequence, part of the new planetarium show called "The Search for Life:

Are We Alone?" at the American Museum of Natural History. The image

was created by SDSC's Dave Nadeau on the Blue Horizon supercomputer,

working with data from the Hayden Planetarium and NCSA.

(Credit: AMNH/SDSC/NCSA)



Narrated by Harrison Ford, the 23-minute space theater presentation examines the possibility of life on other worlds. The eight-minute animation segment, created through the collaboration of visualization experts at SDSC, scientists and artists at the Hayden Planetarium, and computer graphics specialists at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), shows the formation of the Sun and its family of planets from a nebula of dust and gas, with millions of years of real time compressed into seconds.


"We are delighted to continue our collaboration with the Hayden Planetarium on this exciting project," said Fran Berman, director of SDSC and the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI). "Part of the center's mission is to assist science educators and to further the public's understanding of science and technology. I'm doubly pleased that SDSC was able to make a unique contribution with our visualization and data-management expertise, as well as our high-end computing resources."


The animation sequence starts outside the Milky Way galaxy and zooms toward a nebula in which stars are forming. Swirling dust and gas condense into protostars. The largest protostar "ignites" in hydrogen fusion; its brilliant blue-white light energizes gas in the nebula, causing an eerie red and green glow. The view shifts to a smaller newborn star with a thick disk of dust and gas orbiting the star's equator and jets of material streaming from its poles. The star brightens, the disk flattens, and dust and gas accrete into lumps -- infant planets. One of them becomes Earth.


"The Hayden animation team used state-of-the-art graphics techniques that can only be done on supercomputers," SDSC visualization expert David R. Nadeau said. "We've taken great care to keep the visualization both true to the science and entertaining for the audience. The result is what scientists believe you'd really see if you could fly around and into these amazing astronomical phenomena."


The animated segment rendered by SDSC was assembled as 42,000 high-resolution video frames, selected from more than 150,000 images created in the course of the effort. SDSC visualization programmer Erik Engquist and Nadeau developed custom software based on the NPACI Scalable Visualization Toolset for rendering three-dimensional data to meet the planetarium's unique requirements. The rendering of these images occupied more than 1,000 processors of SDSC's Blue Horizon, one of the world's largest supercomputers, for more than five days.


"The Search for Life" was produced by Anthony Braun of the American Museum of Natural History. Carter Emmart, director of visualization for the Hayden Planetarium, guided the course of the development effort. The computer simulation of the formation of the nebula was the work of Mordecai-Mark Mac Low, an astrophysicist at the Hayden Planetarium. Science visualizer Ryan Wyatt of the American Museum of Natural History programmed the simulation of star motion. John Hawley of the University of Virginia created the protoplanetary disk simulation.


Key personnel at NCSA included Donna Cox, senior researcher and a professor in the University of Illinois School of Art and Design, visualization programmer Robert Patterson, and senior research programmer Stuart Levy.


The work of the visualization artists at NCSA was integrated into the show through a process of remote virtual collaboration, using NCSA's Virtual Director software. To define the "flight path" for the sequence, Patterson, Cox, and Levy ran Virtual Director in the CAVE, a virtual reality display system at NCSA, and Emmart's team in New York ran Virtual Director on the Hayden's Digital Dome system, enabling the two groups to interactively refine the camera viewpoints and resolve production issues.


The simulation and rendering data for the animation sequence was transferred between the three sites over the high-speed Abilene research network, run by the Internet2 project. The data files were stored and managed at SDSC. With nearly three terabytes -- three million megabytes -- of data to share and manage among the sites, the SDSC Storage Resource Broker, which provides a way to access data resources anywhere on the Net without regard to their physical locations, proved essential. George Kremenek of SDSC's Data and Knowledge Systems group played a key role in the data management.


In total, the animation segment consists of 70,000 high-resolution frames, counting additional portions rendered by NCSA and Hayden Planetarium programmers, scientists, and artists. The planetarium projects seven of these frames at a time onto the dome and blends them together to create a seamless, wrap-around image.


"Supercomputer data analyses and simulations play an ever-expanding role in all areas of science," Berman said, "especially in exploring the fundamental mysteries of life, decoding the human genome, and finding cures for diseases. I'm excited that supercomputer visualizations now help convey the thrill of investigating the place of life in the universe."


A companion article describing NCSA's role in the visualization appears in this issue's Headlines section.


The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) is a national laboratory for computational science and engineering, and the leading-edge site of the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI). A research unit of the University of California, San Diego, SDSC is funded by the National Science Foundation through NPACI and other programs, other federal agencies, the State and University of California, and private organizations. For more information, see http://www.sdsc.edu/ and http://www.npaci.edu/


The Hayden Planetarium is part of the Frederick Phineas and Sandra Priest Rose Center for Earth and Space, part of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City at Central Park West and 79th Street. For more information, see http://www.amnh.org/rose/


The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign leads the National Computational Science Alliance, a consortium, like NPACI, in the NSF Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure program. For more information, see http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/ --Mike Gannis


© 2002 Online: News about the NPACI and SDSC Community
 

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Redshift4
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by milori
Wiggles,


Remember when Tom Stites was telling us about a planetarium that just purchased 10 (yes, TEN) of the QXGA1 D-ILAs for their set-up?


Do you remember where that was? Do you remember how they were going to install them?


Ten of those suckers total more than ninety-million pixels!
Holy Smoke! Aren't those things $225k plus lens? Those must be crazy lenses for $8.775 million each.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It's amazing that this thread has resurfaced. The dead arise!


In the last year, I have worked out some of the logistics. For my own account, I manufactured an SDI input card that would be suitable for working with split (or any number) screens for 720x480. I have not yet worked on synchronizing the flips, which might be a challenge.


Lord knows how long it will take for an HD version at a reasonable price. They go for about $10K currently.


Also, there are potential alternatives, as the introduction of the new Matrox makes clear. If anybody has more than one HTPC and more than one projector and would like to test this out, please drop me a line.
 

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Yes the dead has arisen but this is a good thread.


First off, 6 of the 7 projectors we use are for the image. The one extra is strictly a back-up.


The reason for CRT's is because you have a ton of control on the geometry and they go to black. We see know other technology that can do this currently for full domes.


However, for panoramic stuff with the new high contrast 12 degree DLP's should work great. At 1800:1, the edge blending won't be very noticeable. Whereas most edge blending done now by the likes of Panasonic and Barco is very noticeable because they will only be using 400:1 projectors. Like I said the Earth Theater in Pittsburgh uses 5 DLP's to do its panorama.


We are currently trying to use HiPix cards (or equivalent) to power the projectors at 1024X768 instead of the upconverted 640X480 we send currently.


QQQ,


We could almost do something like that at the Planetarium. Their is a company in Houston call The Continum (spelling) that does immersive enviroments. They use rear projection Barcos and create a 4 to 6 screen box similar to the link you showed. Most of their clientel is oil related where the oil companies can look at the geological data in 3D mensions. I have the business card at home.


-Mr. Wigggles
 

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My plane'arium will show laser Kenny Logins and laser James Taylor! You love the plane'arium! To be without the plane'arium causes you horrible pain! All you want to do is help the plane'arium thrive! To not do so makes your stomach ache with needle like stabs.... and right over here we see the constellation orion....
 
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