SESQUI is one of the cornerstone celebrations in honor of Canada's 150th anniversary. SESQUI brings together technical innovation and art in a multi-faceted celebration of Canada’s heritage, landscape and people. Réalisations is proud to have been a part of SESQUI’s 360 Technical Innovation Team, providing expertise and support for their 360° film, HORIZON.
HORIZON embarks on a nationwide tour, visiting planetariums throughout the country before launching a “pop-up” tour in June 2017. During this mobile tour, the SESQUI inflatable dome theatre will bring HORIZON to the doorsteps of seven Ontario communities.
Réalisations provided expertise and created fundamental equipment to help bring the concept of a travelling 360° film into reality. The result is the HORIZON 360° Cinematic Dome Tour. HORIZON is shot using a variety of cameras, mounted on custom rigs. The film is then projected inside the SESQUI dome from eight projectors, using the newest cutting-edge technology to enable a standardized viewing experience for each stop along the mobile tour.
FILMING: Realizing Canada in 360°
Réalisations provided support for the filming of HORIZON by designing, testing and constructing two separate camera rigs along with the help of our fellow collaborators, without which the end result would not have been possible. The first rig holds five SLR Canon cameras which shoot time-lapse; the second rig holds 3 RED Dragon 6K video cameras. Because the film is projected in a 360° dome, the film needed to be shot in extremely high resolution, otherwise the image quality would deteriorate when blown up for viewing.
Furthermore, the placement of the individual cameras on the rigs needed to be painstakingly calculated since any discrepancies in alignment would be detrimental to the success of the film’s projections inside the dome.
Finally, this project required that the rigs be road-ready; lightweight enough to be mounted to a variety of vehicles for land and aerial shots, yet durable. The rigs were used to shoot footage from ninety different locations across all thirteen provinces and territories, and needed to be able to withstand every extreme of these climates. These custom-built rigs help bring the film’s mandate to life; “a 360° cinematic journey across Canada, and a visual symphony that celebrates the people, landscapes and freedoms that make Canada home”.
SYSTEMS: 10-second auto-calibration for seamlessly standardized projection
SESQUI’s film not only required special filming rigs, but superior systems for which to display it inside a mobile dome theatre. 360° films presented in permanent planetariums and IMAX theatres have a highly structured interior dome, providing a stable projection surface. This allows for greater time for projection testing to smooth any kinks in calibration. SESQUI’s vision of a mobile dome theatre presented unique challenges in the design phases as well as the auto calibration and playback systems required to show the film successfully. Furthermore, the dome is made of a flexible inflatable material, therefore the projection surface is subject to slight changes on a windy day.
Réalisations was able to overcome these issues through highly calculated design and meticulous testing. During design phases, Réalisations was able to create a system that could calibrate the eight projectors inside the SESQUI dome in a groundbreaking 53 seconds. In a planetarium or IMAX theatre, where one would normally see a 360 film, the calibration process is usually several days long. After much research and development, the final auto-calibration system takes only 10 seconds. The auto calibration systems provided by Réalisations allow for video projections to sync with one another in as little as ten seconds, and provide a seamless 360° image overlap among the eight projectors. The systems provided enable a standardized and straight-forward set up on a tight schedule, not just once but at each stop of the cinematic dome tour.
THE DOME: Bringing the 360° vision to as many viewers as possible
Under the leadership of Guy St-Amour, SESQUI's technical director and dome producer, Réalisations also provided expertise in the design phase of the 360° cinematic dome which serves as the portable theatre for HORIZON’s tour across Ontario. The concept of the SESQUI 360° cinematic dome tour was ambitious as an early concept and the research and development that went into it was appropriately exacting. Réalisations’ involvement in the SESQUI project designs began in the summer/ fall of 2015. The project has developed and advanced through two years’ worth of technical drawings, projection material tests as well as prototypes of various sizes and layouts for the SESQUI mobile dome.
The dome required several unique considerations introduced in the design phases by the element of mobility. The physical design needed to accommodate the variety of locations it would be visiting; the interior material of the dome needed to optimize color projection; and the layout of projectors within the dome needed to be perfect to facilitate seamless video overlap of the film. The ultimate design of the dome enables on-site operators to quickly set-up and tear down the dome and its eight projectors. The optimal placement of the projectors within the dome, and carefully selected color of the interior of the dome enhance the beauty of the footage captured on camera, and allow HORIZON to be viewed in outstanding 4K fulldome resolution.
Réalisations would like to thank the following collaborators:
- Alexandre Burton: collaboration on the design of the SLR camera rig
- Francois David: collaboration on the design of video filming rig
- Guy St-Amour: SESQUI technical designer and dome producer