SPECIAL PLACES is bundled with Horizon (a ‘signature’ Canada 150 presentation) and runs 01 July Canada Day. The double-feature begins at 11 AM and continues throughout the day. While it costs a few bucks to get into SPARK, the full-dome shows are free of charge.
WHY YOU SHOULD GO
If you’re interested in virtual reality (VR), have some fun with SPARK’s full complement of state-of-the-art VR headsets:
SPECIAL PLACES: Writing-On-Stone premiered in February at Denver’s IMERSA conference, a showcase of full-dome immersive experiences in a state-of-the-art presentation space.
Spring tour of Europe
Next stop: JENA full-dome Festival in May at the Zeiss Planetarium in Jena, Germany, a university town which has shaped a lot of Western philosophy since its founding in 1558 ; the dome’s namesake Carl Zeiss, the father of modern optical lenses opened his first manufacturing plant there in the 19th century. And famous alumni — Hegel, Marx, Luther, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche among other notables — either lived and worked in the east German city, went to school there, or taught at the university.
In June, SPECIAL PLACES next travels to the full-dome festival at BRNO Observatory and Planetarium in Czech Republic. And after that back home to Canada and Montreal’s SAT IX Symposium where you can immerse yourself in Writing-On-Stone in the VR Lounge.
In July, Calgary’s SPARK presents SPECIAL PLACES on Canada Day, and throughout the summer in a programme of short 360 films in the planetarium’s dome (dates to be announced).
Next phase of development
A simulacra of SPECIAL PLACES and kindred locations I’ve recorded in Canada (and elsewhere) is in the works — an immersive cyclorama that builds from the 2007 [em/I] public exhibition; the replica will speak to and stimulate all modalities of human perception (not to be mysterious: I’ll reveal what that means in the months to come).
An immersive experience for domes, smartphones, and virtual reality headsets.
THEREARE “songs in the land,” says Leroy Little Bear, a Blackfoot elder and guide to SPECIAL PLACES, a panoramic tour of a spirit-filled land that hugs the border between Canada and the United States.
It’s a landscape of eerie hoodoos, endless sky, and a starfield that’s out of this world. What’s more “it’s the sound of the wind,” producer Don Hill recalls of his first encounter with Writing-on-Stone park in southern Alberta. “A sound that is felt as much as it is heard.” The sandstone cliffs are shaped by the persistent wind blowing out from the Rockies, which makes the curves and recesses of “the hoodoos sing,” says Hill. “They whistle with every breeze.” And they’ve been singing for millennia “with news from the ancestors,” says Leroy Little Bear.
Hill, along with Ryan Jackson and Sam Brooks of Full Circle Visuals, and Adam Kidd of Limbo Editing Services, recently made an 8 minute episode of SPECIAL PLACES, the first leg in a planned series that link extraordinary locations in Canada — some familiar, others not so much — that tell of the supernatural and an extraordinary way of knowing the country. It’s a 360 video that can play in planetariums and inflatable domes, VR (virtual reality) headsets, and even smartphones and tablets.
During the summer of 2016, the team built and field-tested a custom camera rig that delivers an 8K image that looks amazing, and is designed to complement high-performance projectors installed in large format theatres and planetariums. “We believe it’s a necessary step past the GoPro,” editor Adam Kidd says speaking for the team. It makes for a cinematic 360 experience that not only looks and feels immersive, but reproduces the wonder of a landscape that’s tricky to shoot with conventional gear.
From the shoot to the rendering and editing process, organizing workflow, and how to tell the story of a SPECIAL PLACE — every step was a challenge. Yet, the decision to build a custom-built camera and go beyond the GoPro model was a risk that paid off extraordinarily well. “It’s the kind of story,” says Leroy Little Bear that’s always been told “360 degrees around you.” And it’s in this respect SPECIAL PLACES is less a traditional documentary, and more of an ‘experience’ for people to enjoy.
The next episode of SPECIAL PLACES is in development for winter 2017.