Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Upgrades Digital Dome & Immersive Laboratory

Published January 23, 2018

New Equipment For Immersive Sound and Video Recently Installed 

SANTA FE – The IAIA Digital Dome (the DOME) is a unique asset of IAIA, being the world’s only fully articulating dome. It rotates from 0° to 90°, and can be positioned at the ceiling or floor, offering multiple viewing experiences. The space offers a combination of black box, planetarium, performance space, digital fulldome, and an immersive laboratory.

The DOME has been a part of the campus since 2010. It was created to assist in the evolution of informed, educated, and digitally-enabled storytellers so that they can actively maintain, represent, and fortify Native arts and culture for future generations. During that time, the DOME has become an inspiring space for many artists to stretch from immersive spherical film production to interactive immersive storytelling. The IAIA courses ensure that IAIA students will learn how to leverage the power of this technology for their Native communities in the social, cultural, economic, and political realms. IAIA is also presently developing a minor program in computer programming called “Programming for the Arts.” It provides an opportunity for students to think critically and learn about the machines and mediums that they use on a daily basis and learn how to utilize computers creatively to make digital art.

In 2016, IAIA received a one-year grant of $499,980 from the Department of Defense (DoD) to update and augment the DOME’s existing equipment. The new equipment includes high resolution projectors and speakers, computers, immersive 360 VR simulation and theater equipment, to create a spatially accurate three-dimensional sound system and an immersive high resolution 4k display system.  The DOME enhances IAIA’s capacity to deliver cutting edge technology training, enhance STEM components of IAIA’s liberal arts curriculum, and support students’ application of their creative capabilities into high-technology STEM fields in a state-of-the-art environment.

This equipment also supports a project, entitled “Interactivity and Simulation in Immersive Virtual Environments,” that builds on prior successful research, to deliver interactive immersive displays. The primary research objective is the development of simulation and real-time interactivity for immersive technology through the use of gestural interfaces and sensors. Fulldome projection and interactivity have been extended to arbitrary display surfaces and head-mounted displays.

Wireless motion capture suits, depth sensors, biofeedback instrumentation, and other interactive components will aid in the use of immersive natural user interfaces. 360º video/audio recording technology has been integrated into a flexible immersive production pipeline for both students and researchers with RED 5k and 8k video cameras for high resolution fisheye video capture.

During the initial phase, expansion was made to the immersive 15.1 sound system with a spatialized ambisonic-based 24.4 professional Genelec immersive sound system. This gives the IAIA Immersive Laboratory a 39.4 3D audio system. The DOME now contains five new Barco F50 WQXGA VizSim (2560×1600 Resolution) projectors that deliver a 4k dome projection. Projectors are also able to do 3D video projection.

The DOME is in a Black Box; a 41’W x 41’W x 31’H theater, and the DOME itself is 24’W x 12’H. Throughout the semester the DOME hosts live performances, immersive experiences, and immersive films and music, with live visuals programmed by a VJ.

Recently installed, is a VR studio with HTC Vive headset, controllers and motion sensors for a total immersive simulation for students and researchers to try out their immersive experiences, as well as Playstation gaming setups. A Meta Motion GS-Cobra Wireless Suit and 13-sensor Gloves motion capture system lets users capture movement and control interactivity in the Digital Dome. Interactivity and simulation can also be controlled with XboxOne Kinect sensors and HTC Vive sensors and controllers.

The new sound system includes a RME Madiface Pro 24 bit 128 Channel, with RME M-32 DA/ADfor 32 channel high resolution 3D audio. The system also includes Ircam SPAT ambisonic software and uses Splash playback software from SAT in Montreal Canada.

The DOME’s audio recording system includes a variety of Shure and Sennheiser microphones with the Sennheiser Ambeo ambisonic microphone and the 8 channel ambisonic Zoom F8 recorder/mixer.

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