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Planetariums Where I've Performed

Planetariums Where I’ve Performed

Planetariums are amazing immersive theaters. They are great for my video-based digital performances. The display technology is cutting-edge, but there’s something more. These are experiential theaters, dedicated to cosmic concepts and showing an audience where we are in the universe. These concepts parallel the concepts that I put in my show, in which I express cosmic explorations and show audiences where we are in the universe of imagination.

There is no “standard” planetarium; each facility is unique. That’s a challenge for producers of fixed media, but it’s a challenge that I relish. Each dome is a new opportunity for me to create variation within my performance. I’ve enjoyed my experiences in each and every dome… once I got all the technical problems solved!

Here’s a comprehensive list of planetarium domes I’ve had the privilege of controlling (in no particular order):

Glendale Community College
Adler Planetarium
Fujitsu Planetarium at De Anza College
Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences
Hong Kong Space Museum
Macao Science Center
Boston Museum of Science
Lousiana Art and Science Museum
Hamburg Planetarium
Artis Planetarium
University of Alaska Anchorage
New Mexico
Copernicus Warsaw 


Glendale Community College

GCC PlanetariumGCC was my home dome from 2007-2011. With the undying support of Paul Buehler, I was able to spend many hours there getting my system to work within their Sky-Skan system. Fulldome is complicated and idiomatic. Regular access to a dome is essential to become facile with the format. I performed there monthly for those years. It was a laboratory for my performing in domes and for performing in general. At 48 seats, it’s an intimate theater. Despite it’s size, the projection was top-notch — easily the best digital dome theater in Southern California.


Adler Planetarium

AdlerSkyViewI performed at this iconic Chicago landmark here in 2013. This planetarium has one of the best locations of any in the world. It’s situation on Lake Michigan is a draw for photographers looking to capture the Chicago skyline.

The newly-remodeled Grainger theater is beautiful. It has a modern flair, including a computer-room floor, which hid my cables well. The chairs are removable, allowing various types of events in the space.
I performed two shows here in April, 2013. The second show was even better than the first.


Fujitsu Planetarium at De Anza College

DeAnzaThis, along with the planetarium at GCC, is a gem outstanding its modest campus. The two Sony projectors create a crisp, clear image. The seating and surroundings create an informal, inviting space. I don’t use a starball for my show, so theirs is an intrusion to my space, but I have to give them credit for having a starball of excellent clarity and detail!

I performed here in 2013, and have another show scheduled for April 5, 2014.


Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences

CAS_planetariumI love the forward tilt of this theater, and of the stadium seating. This layout implies that you’re not looking up at the stars as much as you’re sharing the cockpit of a starship.

The planetarium “floats” above a system of aquariums in an amazing new complex which integrates all the sciences. Where else can you step out of a planetarium onto a bridge with stingrays swimming underfoot?

I performed three shows here in October, 2012 as part of their NightLife series.


Stanley Ho Space Theatre in the Hong Kong Space Museum

Hong Kong 2013 080_crI performed 2 shows here in 2013. This theater is part of a complex of museums and attractions on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. It’s a large theater (over 300 seats) with a spectacular projection system.


Macao Science Center PlanetariumMacao Science Center

This theater has an 8k resolution. Times two, for stereo 3D. For those of you who don’t know, that’s a lot. Chances are, you haven’t seen a theater with that resolution. The image is a circle with an 8192 pixel diameter. (Times two, for stereo 3D.) I computed that I was drawing an effective 96 megapixels through this system at 60 frames-per-second. To put this in laypersons terms: your iPhone sucks.

The system is driven by 48 graphics PCs running in sync, with another PC for sound, and another for controlling them all. That’s 50 PCs that have to work in sync. I had not tested my system with a system so large, but I’m happy to say that it work we’d nearly flawlessly! I don’t know if it was the graphics cards or the network backbone, but I had no problem with sync between all those computers. I was very pleased. You might even say I was giddy!

The resolution and 3D stereo created an image with incredible presence. In certain scenes of one, the colors and brightness would “click” into a simulation that felt as though you could step inside the dome and enter my virtual world. Even as I was piloting around and making my creations dance within, my own jaw dropped with wonder.

I performed 7 shows here in December, 2012.


Boston Museum of Science

Boston Museum of Science from HarborThis museum seems to be in the middle of it all, as it straddles the river between Boston and Cambridge. The museum is well I established, but newly remodeled. The planetarium is new and lovely. I performed four shows here in October, 2012. It’s got concentric seating and a new starball, which is perfect for simulating the night sky. However, this layout presents a challenge for my show (and most fulldome movies), because most parts have a definite up and down. Unlike fixed media, I can adjust my horizons to fit the theater during my show — and if it’s not going to look like a sell-out show, we encourage people to sit in areas giving the best view.


Pennington Planetarium at the Louisiana Art and Science Museum

Pennington-PlanetariumI’ve performed in this dome on a number of occasions, and I’ve enjoyed it each time. It’s a forward-tilted dome, so it has the starship cockpit feel.

The last time I performed there was in August, 2012, a collaboration with space music pioneer John Serrie. We performed for back-to-back conferences of the International Planetarium Society and Domefest.


Hamburg Planetarium

Hamburg Planetarium

This imposing brick tower looks like a medieval fortress, but it’s actually a converted water tower. Beyond the star shows, they do a wide variety of shows in the space, including laser shows and musical acts. I did three shows there in 2007 as part of a showcase of new fulldome content. I had technical problems which frustrated me each show, but even still, the audience was amazed.


Artis Planetarium, Amsterdam

J-Walt performing at MuseumnachtI’ve performed here for two separate special events. It’s got concentric seating, which is always a challenge, because I have to decide which part of the audience gets to see the imagery right-side-up. For my first visit there, I added a feature to my system which allows me to yaw the image with the turn of a knob, so that I could change the orientation throughout the show. This theater has a starball in the center, but for my show it was lowered and a platform was placed over the well, allowing me to stand directly in the center of the theater. I think it’s the perfect place for me to perform from!


University of Alaska Anchorage Planetarium and Visualization Theater

Inside UAA PlanetariumThis is a fairly new and theater in a fairly new building. With 62 seats, it is a smaller, more intimate dome. I performed shows here in October, 2012.

Like the planetarium at GCC, this theater doubles as a classroom, complete with writing desks which fold out from each armrest.


Planetarium at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science

New Mexico Museum of Natural History & ScienceThis is a forward-tilted “starship-style” dome that has a small platform in the center of the seats — the perfect place for me to stand and perform. I gave a performance here for Domefest 2007 which wowed a large portion of the fulldome community. Sky-Skan had installed a 3D stereoscopic system for the event. I was blown away by the system and the 3D effect. The objects I’d create seemed to hang in front of me holographically. I was enjoying the novelty along with the crowd, and I would have to remind myself not to linger in amazement, but to move on with the show!


Copernicus Science Center, Warsaw

Interior of Copernicus planetarium, WarsawIn 2011, I performed to three full houses in the new planetarium in Warsaw’s Copernicus Science Center. My shows were a highlight of the annual ECSITE conference organized by The European Network of Science Centres and Museums. Sky-Skan Europe had just installed their 3D Definiti fulldome system, and I was among the privileged few to take it on its maiden voyage!


Demonstrations

I’ve given a handful of private demonstrations at planetariums, to promote my show and to highlight the possibilities of new digital domes.

Fleet Science Center, San Diego
Telus World Of Sience, Edmonton, AB
Fels Planetarium, Philadelphia

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