The challenge: Scientifically correct general theory of relativity in a fulldome environment

A century of general relativity

The year 2015 marked the 100th anniversary of the release of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity (GTR). Ten years after revolutionizing our comprehension of light in the special theory of relativity, Einstein did the same for the force of gravitation.

While overturning our understanding of gravity, he also changed our view of the nature of space and time itself. Probed to its most subtle predictions and confirmed countless of times, the GTR remains a theory of unsurpassed accuracy and elegance. It reinforced Einstein’s status as a superstar of modern science and made him the epitome of a genius.

Ironically, it is this standing as a prodigy that leads to reservations about engagement with the GTR in the greater public. People ask themselves, quite understandably, how could they could ever fathom a genius’ masterpiece?

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Fulldome show creator Peter Popp talks about “Life of Trees”

In 2013, Peter Popp, in cooperation with Ilusa Media, C.A. I Systeme GmbH, and Senator AG, released his latest animated fulldome show, “The Life of Trees,” a 360° adventure also available in 3D.

This award-winning show follows the antics of Dolores and Mike, a pair of adventurous insects who set out to explore the microcosm of plants and trees, and their relationship to all other life on Earth. It is the first fulldome video created in omni-stereoscopic 3D.

In 2004 the fulldome video “Kaluoka’hina: The Enchanted Reef,” produced by Peter Popp of Softmachine, burst onto the scene.

This family-oriented animation took viewers on a trip to a magical reef, combining oceanography and astronomy. It tells the story of a reef dwelling fish and his friend, who have a grand adventure searching out the meaning of the Moon.

The show has won various awards at such festivals as DomeFest and Animago.

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Stereo 3D fulldome version (omnidirectional/omnistereoscopic)

of LIFE OF TREES and KALUOKA'HINA - THE ENCHANTED REEF produced by Softmachine

presented by Uwe Lukatsch


"Life of Trees" is the first fulldome film originally produced and specifically designed in omnidirectional or omnisterescopic 3D. Omnistereoscopic means, the 3D effect works in every spot of the dome. In order to integrate this effect into our production pipeline we had to develop a special camera for the renderer Vray. Our camera can bend the light rays in our virtual sets in way that compensates for the curvature of the dome. This means a full 3D illusion can be obtained while looking around freely in the dome. When producing 3D content for flat cinema, two cameras are simply placed next to each other.

Because of the nature of the 180 degree fisheye cameras that are used to render domemaster images, this approach introduces a lot of problems when applied to fulldome production. A correct offset of the stereoscopic images is only achieved in a narrow field in the front of the dome. On the sides scaling artifacts are introduced and in the back there is an inverted stereoscopic effect (pseudostereoscopy). This reduces the stereoscopic effect and could lead to nausea and headache .


Illustration 1: There is only a correct 3D effect in the front (S), towards the
sides (E, W) it is vanishing and there are scaling artifacts,
in the back (N) the 3D effect is inverted.

Our omnidirectional approach eliminates these artifacts and provides an
immersive experience without eyestrain.


Illustration 2:  Using the turning camera setup generates an omnidirectional perfect 3D effect.

The average eye-distance of an adult is 6.1 cm, whereas the eye-distance of children is only about 5 cm. We designed the stereo 3D for „Life of Trees“ with these numbers in mind. This resulted in a less strenuous, very comfortable stereoscopic effect, perfect for children and adults alike. So the whole family can experience the immersion in a smooth and comfortable way. Stereo 3D was already taken into account during the planning of the production.

Crucial processes like storyboarding or the creation of the animatics were always approached with the depth effect in mind. The stereo design of the shots was adjusted in a way that the depth matches, and cuts or transitions don't stress the spectators. The stereoscopic effect of the scenes extends behind the screen as well as in front of the screen, producing a very harmonic spatial arrangement. This intensifies the immersion and produces a feeling of really „being there“.


See more about LIFE OF TREES at and

3D sound system

of LIFE OF TREES produced by Softmachine

presented by René Rodigast
(Photo: Frank Michael Arndt)

LIFE OF TREES is the first educational fulldome film produced with 360° spatial sound effect. The 3D sound system adds an additional dimension of immersive experience to the fulldome presentation. It was realized by René Rodigast from the Fraunhofer IDMT.
LIFE OF TREES with 360° spatial sound mix is a real innovative sound adventure.

For more information, please visit Fraunhofer IDMT Spatial Sound Wave.