Wollongong Science Centre iDome Exhibit

in conjunction with the

ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science

Filming/Visualisation/Production by Paul Bourke
July 2009

Tour Guides: Simon Moulton (ACES), Willo Grosse (ACES), Gordon Wallace (ACES)
Animation: Mats Bjorklund, Magipics (VIC)
Molecular simulations: Mike Kuiper (VPAC)
Directors: David Officer (ACES), Toni Campbell (ACES)

The following documents a project and interactive iDome installation at the Wollongong Science Centre, supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science. It involves computer animation (by Mats Bjorklund, Magipics), computer simulations of molecular structures (by Mike Kuiper, VPAC), molecular visualisation and LadyBug-3 filmed footage (by Paul Bourke, UWA). The exhibit is intended to convey, to the general public, a sense of the research at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Material Science (University of Wollongong).

There are 8 sequences in total,
1. A welcome to the centre.
2. Nanostructured electromaterials.
3. Carbon nanotubes.
4. Graphene.
5. Conducting polymers.
6. Fibre spinning.
7. Looking at the nanostructured world.
8. An invitation to visit the centre.

User Interface.

Except for the one animation sequence (Nanostructured electromaterials) by Mats Bjorklund, all the footage is created as full spherical panoramic images. In the case of the filmed footage from the LadyBug-3 camera the image only extends down to about -50 degrees, this conveniently matches the truncated nature of the iDome. While the video plays the user is able to look around the laboratory, in many cases there are additional visualisations of the structures being discussed composited into other portions of the spherical image.

Sample view of the LadyBug footage as truncated fisheye, discussing graphene.

Spherical projection from LadyBug-3 corresponding to the above frame (Original frames 5400x2700 pixels).

Example showing compositing of molecular visualisations, the carbon nanotube sequence.

Click for a short sequence filmed within the iDome.

Technical information

The entire experience is controlled with a large trackball and managed with a Quartz Composer composition. The user navigates the menu interface (above), selects a topic and watches and notionally navigates within the resulting movie or animation, at the end of which the menu environment is returned to. At the highest resolution each movie sequence is 4096x2048 pixels, for iDome environments with lower resolution projectors 75% or 50% reduced versions may be more appropriate.

Quartz Composer composition.

Depending on the exact geometry of the dome environment and the projector being used the spherical image needs to be warped appropriately. This warping is described by a mesh onto which the spherical projection is mapped, the mesh is created in just the right way so that the image on the iDome surface appears undistorted and natural to the viewer. This warping is performed in realtime using the Quartz Composer "pbmesh" patch.

Example of a warped frame that matches the movie example above.
While the above image appears distorted, it does not appear so in the iDome.

Credit sequence