Vortex Domes

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Fulldome, Vortex | No Comments

Since its release a few months ago, VORTEX has  has been requested by many planetariums around the world. I’m filled with a sense of pride every time I get an email requesting access to the 4k download. To think that a tiny minutes worth of my work will be projected inside some of these incredible places gives me a huge feeling of well being. And when I say incredible, they are TRULY incredible places. I guess domes are revered structures. They have their roots in religion, and they somehow feel correctly placed in the house of God. And… since the first planetarium, they have been portals into the cosmos. A way to venture beyond the bounds of Earth and visit the vastness of space. They posses some kind of special power that seems engrained in the human psyche. So when we build these complex structures, we stop… We think about it… We think, this is a dome… We cant just build a dome… It’s a special thing. So wherever you find domes, you find them in a setting suitable for  a dome. Suitable to contain a portal to the cosmos. … And this is why they are incredible places.

So anyway, every time I get an email from a planetarium manager, or someone who has access to a dome who wants to see VORTEX in it, I immediately visit the planetarium website and take a look at where it is. Sometimes it’s a huge structure that carves it’s place into the landscape, sometimes it’s a bold structure that tells some kind of story of the time it was made, and sometimes the dome is concealed within the heart of a vast structure. Every single one is unique, and equally stunning to see.


Fittingly, THIS is where VORTEX began its journey. The Morrison Planetarium in California. This is the place that the Vortex concerts were first held in the fifties, the inspiration behind the title. There are a number of little nods to the Morrison and the Vortex concerts within the film, such as the GPS location of the dome and a number of other little hidden things. Pretty hard to notice when you’re being brutalised by the machine at 60fps but there’s a rich layer of detail buried under the insanity. This is where the Domefest 2012 juried selection screenings took place and VORTEX was selected for the event. I hope to visit this place sometime in the near future.

Morrison Planetarium, California Academy of Sciences, California, USA

A cross section of the Morrison Planetarium:

Irene W. Pennington Planetarium, Louisiana Art and Science Museum, Lousiana, USA http://lasm.org/ This is where Domefest 2012 was held, alongside the International Planetarium Society Conference. I got to attend both. An awesome time. Fond memories.

Thinktank Planetarium, Millenium Point, Birmingham, UK – This place is only an hour away and is a hive of creative fulldome work. There’s lots of interesting stuff happening here that is pushing the boundaries of the medium.

Macau Science Centre, China – This place is probably the most advanced planetarium in the world, one of maybe 2 (?) that are capable of screening 8k fulldome video in stereoscopic.

Adler Planetarium, Chicago, USA – These guys have an 8k system. They also hosted IPS 2008, which was my first IPS conference and completely blew my mind. This is actually where I first saw fulldome 3D… A life changing experience. An interesting fact: The film ‘Powers of Ten‘ by Charles and Ray Eames starts on the grass in front of the planetarium. 

Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium, National Space Centre – This one is pretty close to my heart as this really is my home from home. This is where I work every day, and where I did all the testing for VORTEX. I love this place.

Zeiss Planetarium, Jena, Germany – This is where Rene has been mixing the 3D sound for VORTEX. This is a pretty old picture, but it’s one of my favourite images. Fachhochschule Kiel, University of Applied Sciences, Germany – The home of Jürgen Rienow who is doing some fascinating work in the understanding of fulldome. Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, Colorado, USA Centre For Life, Newcastle, UK Planetarium Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany – Easy favourite Adventure Science Centre, Nashville, USA Mayborn Planetarium & Space Theatre, Texas, USA

Planetarium at UT Arlington, Texas, USA

Planetario Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata, Argentina

Taylor Planetarium, Museum of the Rockies, Montana, USA

Planetario Luis Enrique Erro, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico


Although this dome hasn’t requested VORTEX, I thought it would be suitable to include it here as this is where the modern planetarium first began. The “Wonder of Jena” which was set up on the roof of the Zeiss factory in Jena, Germany in 1923.

“Never before was an instrument created which is so instructive as this; never before one so bewitching; and never before did an instrument speak so directly to the beholder. The machine itself is precious and aristocratic… The planetarium is school, theater, and cinema in one classroom under the eternal dome of the sky.” Elis Stromgren

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