Production Methodology The tools and procedures are different but it still comes down to the creativity, expertise and talent of who’s using those tools.
What is “Production”? Doesn’t have to be pre-rendered video playback Live or pre-recorded? Combination? System-based? Real-Time? Scripted sequences? Video clips? CGI? Video capture? Still photography? Compositing? Mix? Who is your team? (FT, PT, Contract? Interns, Students, Volunteers). A good source: Look for talented digital artists in college and technical schools (screen them). Making the best of what you have.
What Constitutes a “Medium Operation”? Can have quite a range, but one example: Director Assistant Director/Producer Technical Producer/Systems Administrator Show Presenters Purchased Shows Fulldome Clips (Sequences) Contracted Services Original Production Producer Workstations Production and Editing Software Modest Render Farm Professional Development and Conferencing
Possible Outcomes for a Medium Operation Some in-house production capability (mostly real-time) Live shows 1-2 purchased playback shows per year One internal production per year, probably a combination of real-time (live or recorded) and video clips. Most staff present shows but also have well trained part-timers Can host special events, guest lecturers, etc. Can develop a network of support and collaboration
Director Would be a working manager Show development and production Budgeting Strategic planning Fundraising support Community relations Help with show presentation Programming support System renewal plan
Assistant Director/Producer Present shows and train presenters Produce fulldome content and /or adapt sequences from other sources Program the system for live real-time presentations Participate in show research, writing and design Assist with fulldome system maintenance
Technical Producer/Systems Administrator Maintain the technical systems in the theater Build, upgrade and maintain production workstations Develop and manage a modest render farm Take care of storage servers Manage the technical aspects of production
Show Presenters Well trained at performance but also knowledgeable Can be teachers, students, astronomy enthusiasts, entertainers, volunteers, etc Regular, ongoing training by appropriate staff Size of the group might range from 2-8 people
A method for bringing in quality shows from outside sources. Surveys show the average for this kind of operation is 1-2/year. Need a funding mechanism that allows you to pay for valued content, not just settle for whatever is “affordable.” Know your audiences and meet their expectations. Make sure there is an adequate marketing and advertising effort. Show Leasing/Purchasing
For use either as stand alone sequences for live performances or incorporated into playback shows. Depending on budget, part or all of the show can be made with clips. Production of a show from clips can be 10-20% the cost of creating everything from scratch! Fulldome “Clips” (Sequences)
With limited in-house production capability, some outsourcing and collaboration may be necessary (especially for video playback shows). Might Include: - Story development - Scriptwriting - Models/Assets - Animation work - Sound effects and surround sound mix Contracted Services
Scheduled Upgrade Plan Electronics have a limited shelf life! High end production workstations rotated every 3 years. Storage servers. Render nodes. Sound system. The Big One = Your Projection System! 4-7 years.
Production and Editing Software Just like equipment, software gets out-of-date and should be updated on a planned schedule. Every 2-3 years is best.
Marketing, Advertising, Promotions and Public Relations Budgets: Almost Always Underestimated… “The Show” should be worthy of a major marketing initiative. Don’t underestimate the cost (or value!) of the ‘live’ component in your Big Production. Include significant training and P.D. Marketing – Two main focus points: Local Audiences, Sister Planetariums. Often overlooked (or an afterthought) – Donor Recognition, Sponsorship Benefits. COSTS. Taking your show on the road is not cheap!
Professional Development and Conferencing These are crucial for keeping your staff up-to-date on: - The latest production and presentation techniques - Trends in the industry - Previewing new shows - Collaborations
“Mid-Level” Cost? Staff costs are pretty much fixed, but remember the widely varied production approaches! Low End = $238k High End = $530k
“Small Level” Cost? Low End = $176k High End = $327k
“Large Level” Cost? Low End = $810k High End = $1,608k
What Constitutes a “Large Operation”? Can have quite a range, but one example: Director Assistant Director/Producer Two to Five Modeler/Animator/Programmers Technical Director/Systems Administrator Audio Engineer Show Presenters Purchased Shows Fulldome Clips (Sequences) Contracted Services Production Workstations and Software Major Render Farm Professional Development and Conferencing
What Constitutes a “Small Operation”? One Example: Director/Coordinator (might be part-time) Planetarium Assistants (shows, maintenance, everything) Volunteers Live-based programming Some playback shows (maybe) Fulldome Clips Content sharing with other facilities Professional Development and Conferencing
How do you pay for all this? Gate receipts Sponsorship of programs or services Local government support Grants Endowments Special Events (Special Screenings, Guest Speakers, Wine and Dinner, Fundraising Ball, Auctions…) Membership and “Friends” programs Show or Clip sales (if there is in-house production capability) Through a variety of fund raising activities, including:
Program Challenges Creating a distinctive experience – positioning yourself as unique. Who is your target audience? – Market Research (focus groups, test audiences, polls and surveys) to determine how to best engage them. The importance of live interaction (the human element). Creating programming that resonates with your local audience. The need to “evolve” (renewal plan). Making the most of your available resources. Funding formulas for both producing and purchasing. Equal emphasis on the three major show components: - Engaging story and script that doesn’t try to say too much - Professional and emotive soundtrack - Convincing visualizations
IPS 2018 “Open Spaces, Open Minds” June 25-29, 2018 Clark Planetarium Salt Lake City, Utah