Fulldome Joins the Streaming Revolution!
All fulldome theater professionals know there’s a world of marvelous content available to share with their audiences — wonderful videos on wide-ranging topics from astronomy and space science to marine biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, music, and much more. Until now, they’ve only been available via traditional licensing structures requiring 1- to 50-year licenses, at a commensurate cost. Fine for those theaters that can make long-term commitments in time and cost, but not all can.
What if we came up with a new way to access all this great available content, with prices even the smallest theater can afford?
FULLDOME OnDemand is our answer. It provides short-term streaming rentals at astoundingly affordable prices.
FULLDOME OnDemand began when we found out about a new streaming video service provider. “I got an e-mail blast from an indie filmmaker, wanting me to buy his video online through VHX.TV,” says Mark C. Petersen, Loch Ness Productions president. “I investigated, and found out the hosting company also does rentals of HD videos. Gee, 1080p videos are what we use with our spherical mirror setup… Aha!”
Here was a way to respond to the many requests we get for lower license fees and shorter-term licenses. For much of the summer, we worked to encode shows for streaming, and to create the Web pages for our FULLDOME OnDemand site. We tested the idea with selected planetarians, and the feedback was very encouraging.
The result is an initial offering of 40+ shows from our catalog, now available for online streaming, with more on the way.
Who Can Use FULLDOME OnDemand?
To start off, we expect the two prime market demographics for FULLDOME OnDemand are the theaters with spherical mirror systems, and the “1K” fisheye-lens projectors. The 1080p movie sizes are what make streaming practical.
Mark says he expects that larger theaters will eventually want to jump in on the streaming revolution too. “Of course, we all have a thirst for ever-higher resolution. Yet in many areas today, it’s still a challenge to access enough Internet bandwidth for smooth 1080p video streaming, let alone 2K or 4K. So for now, our streaming infrastructure is in place at HD resolution. But we know the future holds more promise, and when the pipeline capacity is available, we’ll all be looking to upgrade our capabilities. Moreover, 1080p may be enough resolution for some purposes, such as previewing shows for administrators.”
Fulldome shows for the cost of an average pizza…
Certainly the FULLDOME OnDemand price point is intriguing: for most shows, it’s $30 for a 3-day rental period — basically $10/day. It’s actually based on deep analysis of current licensing fees. “It turns out that’s what many people are paying already,” Mark says, “but they’re currently paying it all up front when they order licenses.”
He did some math, using the prices set by producers for the most common license, the 10-year variety. You can see them on each show’s License Prices page. “For the smaller theaters, the prime demographic for FULLDOME OnDemand, licenses cost about $5,000 on average,” Mark pointed out. “Let’s say someone buys a license and plays the show once a week over that 10 years. 500 plays for $5,000 is $10 per play.”
Based on that analysis, we used that price as our starting point, and added the bonus of being able to play the show as often as desired during the 72-hour rental period.
But, as Mark points out, there are more philosophical advantages to FULLDOME OnDemand. “This service opens up a portal to a vast universe of possibilities for theaters, especially the smaller ones,” said Mark. “It used to be that, in the past, they would have needed to save up their budgets for years just to get only one show. Now they can afford dozens of shows, all right now! We’ve turned the whole content acquisition model upside down for them. With streaming, little theaters suddenly have access to more affordable content than even big theaters have. The smallest ones used to be the poorest, content-wise, and now they can be the richest!”
“This could be the start of something big!”
“With access to as many shows as they want, whenever they want, for the cost of a pizza — what creative planetarian could NOT figure out a way to do great things with this new capability?” asked Mark.
He points out the biggest effect FULLDOME OnDemand may have on the field is still to be seen. “Theaters could run their own fulldome festivals. They could program ‘Audience Choice’ nights. They could use short-term rentals to preview shows for their administrators and test audiences, as they figure out which long-term licenses to buy. On the entertainment side, ‘Dome Club’ nights become more practical, both for theaters and producers. We could take a cue from the cinema world, and offer special day-and-date releases and premieres for new fulldome features. I look forward to seeing what our colleagues are inspired to do using FULLDOME OnDemand!”
In the long run, streaming video for fulldome enables theater operators, empowering them to take chances, expand their role in the community, to add more and different shows in addition to their time-honored astronomy outreach titles. No longer are fulldome theaters limited to their astronomy mission — the sky is MORE than the limit!
We invite you to visit FULLDOME OnDemand to try out this new service!