#67: Jane Crayton on using vDome to create immersive dome and live VJ experiences with a VR toolchain

Jane Crayton is an immersive educator at the ARTSLab University of New Mexico who teaches and creates immersive dome experiences. She’s collaborated with Charles Veasey from the The Digital Dome at Institute of American Indian Arts in creating the vDome open source software, which is multi-channel projection software that provides real-time warping and slicing of content designed for immersive domes.

JaneCrayton Jane describes how you could take content developed in Unity and project it onto a 20ft dome with one computer, and a TripleHead2Go to drive three projectors. Producing content for domes used to require a lot of rendering time, but can now be done in real-time using vDome or Blendy Dome VJ.

The desire to do live VJ performances in an immersive dome is what catalyzed some of these technological breakthroughs including with two other groups working on this including the Société des arts technologiques (SAT) in Montreal, Recursive Function Immersive Dome (RFID) in the UK.

Jane talks about some of the educational uses of immersive domes including how she’s using it to recreate archaeological sites. Domes also allow for collective experiences that could be shared in groups, and that she expects to see Unity playing a bigger role in producing content for domes moving forward. She sees that fully immersive domes have the potential to change your perspective and alter your frame of reference, since you leave behind your point of view and it allows you understand material in a new way.


  • 0:00 – Intro – Work in fully immersive dome. Teaching digital production for a full dome environment using technologies like spherical photography, photogrammetry, and building up 3D environments to be fully immersed in the dome environment and interact with it. At the University of Mexico arts lab, and got a grant to develop a curriculum to best product multi-projection, full dome format. Creating a 4000px x 4000px format. Blending photography with virtual objects with textures. Focusing on creating on new and interactive tool within the full dome. Technology has been innovating to change how multiple-projection digital planetariums are produced. vDome open source software written by Charles Veasey, which provides real-time warping and slicing for domemaster input. Developed it in order to do live VJ performances, and bringing in contemporary club culture into the immersive domes. Being able to build out virtual places that you can explore and interact with each other. vDome transformed how they use the dome since it doesn’t have to be pre-rendered so that they can see it immediately on the dome. It’ll change how dome content is produced. Still in the R&D phase. Other groups creating dome software include Société des arts technologiques (SAT) in Montreal, Recursive Function Immersive Dome (RFID) in the UK, Blendy Dome VJ in Brazil. All of the groups were motivated by wanting to do live VJ in immersive domes.
  • 7:55 – Immersive dome vs immersive VR in a HMD. Some are 360-degrees and others are 180-degrees or 270-degrees. It allows you to look around and see out of your peripheral vision. You can engage audience with surround-sound audio. Use sound as an instigator for what to pay attention. Engaging emotionally and physically and do it with a live audience. You can sit in different perspectives within the dome. Consider how the audience will be seated and how they’ll be looking at the dome
  • 10:35 – Educational component to domes. First experience within a dome was in a planetarium, and it got her interested in science, optics and computers. Slide projectors used within the dome. It’s not just about astronomy in the dome any more. Teaching photography and videography from a different perspective. Dome offers a lot to students and teachers to engage with each other. Your perspective changes when you’re immersed
  • 13:11 – Content beyond astronomy. Cartoons. Film. Working with on a NSF grant to document archeological sites and building out a virtual archeological sites to be experienced in an immersive dome. Looking at applications beyond astronomy. Teaching photography, videography and 3D skills
  • 15:40 – What one would need to set up a dome. Download vDome software. A 20ft dome would require 3 projectors. Need a computer. Would need a TripleHead2Go to drive three projectors.
  • 16:53 – Digital planetariums used to use a $5k computer per projector x7. Today it’s a lot easier. A computer with two video cards could drive up to six projectors with two TripleHead2Go devices.
  • 18:50 – How does Unity game engine fit in? Can pipe in Unity environments onto immersive dome environments. Movement can be difficult since moving too quickly will make the audience sick. Unity is up-and-coming platform for the dome
  • 20:20 – What to avoid to minimize motion sickness. There’s a sweet spot on the dome where they audiences’ eye naturally rest. Take everything a bit slower and watch what you’re producing in the dome. Slow pans, animations and moves, and can be easy to get sick. Trojan commercial with pigs on a roller coaster that made people sick.
  • 23:00 – Spherical video solutions to bring video into an immersive dome. High-learning curve on these technologies. 360Heros is probably the most affordable solution. Uses similar software pipeline.
  • 25:48 – Full dome has the potential to change your perspective and alter your frame of reference, leave behind your point of view and understand material in a new way.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

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Episode 68