Converting 360 Video for Dome Theater
Updated: Aug 16
Dome conversion is one of our specialties at Hungry Mantis. Watching immersive films inside of a dome is a truly one of a kind experience. In Portland, we are lucky enough to have the Kendall Planetarium at OMSI, a full dome theater with exceptional visuals and surround sound, right in our backyard.
Photo by Makayla Caldwell for Outside the Frame.
On June 2nd, 2022 Outside the Frame and Open Signal screened several 360 films made by the youth participants in their programs. Hungry Mantis provided the editing necessary to convert the 360 films that were originally created for VR headsets into a suitable format for dome projection.
To correctly project a 360 film inside of a VR headset, nothing needs to be cropped from the original footage. This is not the case for dome projection, however. As you can see in the following image, a sizable portion from the bottom half will be out of frame.
Equirectangular frame from “Lemme Talk to You” with dome crop overlay.
One of the films we converted was a music video for Jolly Wrapper’s song “Lemme Talk To You.” You can watch the 360 version here. To account for the dome cropping, we made other fine adjustments to the 360 footage. In each conversion process, there is a delicate balance between compensating for the crop while avoiding adding too much distortion. In this case, there were many animations within the video that appeared in the crop area. Luckily, since we also edited the 360 version, we had all the original animated assets and could adjust their positions properly for the dome conversion.
Still frame from dome conversion of “Lemme Talk to You”
“Hibiscus” was another film we edited that required specialized work in order to look its best for a dome. This piece involved inserting traditional videos and pictures over the 360 footage and animating them around the sphere.
In this still frame from the original 360 film, you can see that much of the shot would be lost in the conversion crop. We needed to make a better version that would be suited for the dome while protecting the important elements of the scene in the process.
We adjusted the tilt to better view the main character and then re-designed the overlaid videos and pictures for optimal viewing within the scene.
For this screening, every film presented a slightly different challenge in the conversion process. That meant that each required a specific editing strategy to look its best in the dome. Our highest priority was making sure that each story got the best editing treatment possible.
Over 200 people gathered alongside the youth filmmakers to watch their films at the dome screening. Sharing that viewing experience on such a grand scale was very moving for us. Prior to that night, these films were published on YouTube and Vimeo. Although anyone with a VR headset, desktop, or mobile device could see the works, it wasn’t until the dome screening that we got to experience them together. For some of the youth, it was their first time debuting a film in front of an audience. It was powerful to witness them achieving an important artistic goal at a well-attended community event. That really solidified to us how meaningful in-person screenings can be. And while we will always create stories that can be viewed in VR, offering these works in a dome format is just another way to increase access and provide for really special shared experiences.
LET’S MAKE MORE DOME FILMS
If you have a 360 film that you’d like to screen for domes, please reach out to us. We would love to bring more stories to life inside of this grand format! We will assess your film, go over any particular areas that can be edited specifically for success in the dome format, and provide a quote and project timeline. Please reach out to us at HungryMantisVR@gmail.com and we can’t wait to learn more about your project!
“Through Darcelle’s Eyes” a film we co-directed + edited for 360 Labs, screening at Dome Fest West in 2019.
If you’re looking for opportunities to share your work in a dome, there is a great dome film festival called Dome Fest West. Visit their website to learn more about their upcoming program and how to submit your work. The Macon Film Festival in Georgia also has a full dome program that you can learn more about here. Outside of the US, there are several other dome film festivals including:
May 11-15, 2022
Plymouth, United Kingdon
November 4-12, 2022