Beat - Tim Seger crop

A festival of dome media co-founded by i-DAT and staged earlier this month was a resounding success – but there’s work to do to further the medium, according to Professor Mike Phillips.

Fulldome UK took place at the National Space Centre in Leicester on November 7 & 8, with screenings, immersive experiences, competitions, debates, performances and forward-thinking visions in sound and image and an audience of artists, academics, VJs and dome-techies.

“It was an extraordinarily successful festival and now we need to bring this stuff to wider audiences,” said Mike. “This festival was for ‘domies’ but the mission for i-DAT and its relationship to Fulldome UK is to expand the audiences and free the artform from the dominant model of science edutainment”.

Mike said that Fulldome UK 2014 demonstrated highly immersive pieces of dome-art alongside the more commonplace science presentations in surround-sound and vision aimed at kids and their parents.

He said: “What we’re trying to do is liberate the dome from the dominant model of science edutainment to free creative artists and designers so they make much more qualitative immersive experiences.”

“If you go in there thinking this is cinema, you’re missing half the trip,” he said. “The whole point is that the dome disappears and you can move through it and beyond it.

“There is amazing 3D potential that you don’t have in cinema. This completely immerses you. It wraps around your face! Yes, it’s the wonder of virtual reality and surround vision but you get much more spatial potential and the sense of presence is heightened.”

He said he saw exciting examples of fulldome uses at the festival, from experimental shorts to real-time live performances, covering a range of fulldome possibilities. “Everything that could be done was demonstrated in some form. The potential was made manifest,” he said.

Alongside i-DAT’s Birgitte Aga, Mike was a judge in the fulldome art competition and he praised the work of Tim Seger who won Best in Show for his abstract-impressionistic narrative piece Beat and the romantic piece Vessel by Aaron Bradbury – which demonstrated the data on what really happens when one sees one’s true love for the first time.

Mike’s favourite was RFID’s live performance (check their showreel here), “a real-time, abstract journey through digital universes of a kind of flocking, swarming, particle space with an incredible live soundtrack.

“The whole thing was navigated live – again a revolutionary thing for fulldomes – and it had a wonderful, totally abstract narrative. It was a playful, exploratory experience of total immersion,” said Mike. Other highlights included performances by United VJs and Ghostdog and Azyl.

Fulldome UK 2014 was the 4th festival, following the event’s inauguration in Plymouth in 2010.