Stereoscopic 3D Vision for the dome

To further intensify the fulldome feeling of diving into the scenes and becoming part of it, our fulldome films are also produced in a stereoscopic fulldome 3D version. Omnidirectional means the stereoscopic 3D effect can be experienced on any spot around the dome, all around the audience – the viewer becomes part of the action.

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“Life of Trees” was the first fulldome film originally produced and specifically designed in omnidirectional or omnisterescopic 3D. Omnistereoscopic means, the 3D effect works in every spot of the dome. In order to integrate this effect into our production pipeline we had to develop a special camera for the renderer Vray. Our camera can bend the light rays in our virtual sets in way that compensates for the curvature of the dome. This means a full 3D illusion can be obtained while looking around freely in the dome. When producing 3D content for flat cinema, two cameras are simply placed next to each other.

Because of the nature of the 180 degree fisheye cameras that are used to render domemaster images, this approach introduces a lot of problems when applied to fulldome production. A correct offset of the stereoscopic images is only achieved in a narrow field in the front of the dome. On the sides scaling artifacts are introduced and in the back there is an inverted stereoscopic effect (pseudostereoscopy). This reduces the stereoscopic effect and could lead to nausea and headache. Our omnidirectional approach eliminates these artifacts and provides an immersive experience without eyestrain.

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There is only a correct 3D effect in the front (S), towards the
sides (E, W) it is vanishing and there are scaling artifacts,
in the back (N) the 3D effect is inverted.

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Using the turning camera setup generates an omnidirectional perfect 3D effect.

The average eye-distance of an adult is 6.1 cm, whereas the eye-distance of children is only about 5 cm. We designed the stereo 3D for „Life of Trees“ with these numbers in mind. This resulted in a less strenuous, very comfortable stereoscopic effect, perfect for children and adults alike. So the whole family can experience the immersion in a smooth and comfortable way. Stereo 3D was already taken into account during the planning of the production.

Crucial processes like storyboarding or the creation of the animatics were always approached with the depth effect in mind. The stereo design of the shots was adjusted in a way that the depth matches, and cuts or transitions don’t stress the spectators. The stereoscopic effect of the scenes extends behind the screen as well as in front of the screen, producing a very harmonic spatial arrangement. This intensifies the immersion and produces a feeling of really „being there“.

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