How to Create a Fulldome / Digital Dome Master

You can use any application to make a dome master. The trick is to make the circle format with a fisheye view.

Lumenscape Dome @ Santa Fe Complex
Lumenscape Dome @ Santa Fe Complex

Note: Every dome is slightly different, so you should always consult with the dome manager. But here are some guidelines for preparing your files to show on a dome.

Most domes in the world are 2k to 4k with the largest having an 8k projection.  Your image will need to be a circle and all of your work will need to be fisheyed or spherized in order to display correctly on the dome. Below are ways in which to create these effects in various programs.  Also see  Digital Dome Artist Resources.


This is one of the major ways in which domes differ. Especially right now, there are various art friendly dome servers popping up and the majority of domes are using planetarium systems. Please refer to the dome manager for acceptable file formats for their dome. But here are some guidelines:

    • Export a master copy of your file for archive and to use for conversion. Use JPEG 2000 codec and export as a .mov. JPEG 2000 is the Hollywood standard for digital media preservation. This coded will never go away and is lossless.
    • Resolution 3200 x 3200, 3600 x 3600, 4096 x 4096
      • as a rule of thumb don’t go below 3200, so you can always show on a 4k dome.
    • Recommended frame rates — 30 fps or 60 fps
    • Color Bit Depth — e.g., 8, 10, or 12 bits/color (8 bit most widely acceptable)
    • Exterior to active pixel area:
      1. region colored black (except for time and frame data)
      2. user-defined show name, timecode, and frame number text
      3. recommended arrangement: timecode (top line), frame number (second line), and frame rate (third line) in upper left-hand corner, with show name in upper right-hand corner.
    •  5.1 Dolby Surround Sound you can use Software: Soundtrack Pro or Logic Pro to create wav files or AC3. 5.1 is standard for a dome theater.
      It breaks down like this – 1 font center, front left, front right, rear center, rear left, rear right, and a sub. You will want to use an audio editing program that allows you to export as Digital Dolby

      wav file sequence and naming protocol that works best
      wav file sequence and naming protocol that works best

      Surround like Soundtrack Pro or Logic Pro.You can submit sound as 6-channel mono wav files, 48khz, 16-bit (even if using a stereo or mono mix) or an AC3.

    • For SAT and Vortex Server: convert your project to HAP codec as .mov file. For sound, embed your 5.1 (preferred) or stereo audio into the .mov.
    • For Blendy Dome and vDome – export your project using QT .mov with Apple Pro Res or H264 codec. For sound, embed your 5.1 (preferred) or stereo audio into the .mov. Note that Blendy Dome doesn’t play audio, so you have use a different player that will handle 5.1 (Module8 or Resolume or Max/MSP will work well)
  • ART SERVER SOUND – embed your multi channel sound into you .mov file. Your options are using QT Player 7 Pro or Apple Compressor.

Software Options to convert 2D images or video to fulldome:
Blender – (You can’t ‘convert’ as such unless they have 180×360 degree fov – but they can be re-purposed – placed around the dome, animated etc)
Fulldome Plugin
Dome FX Plugin


Adobe Photoshop CS5

  • 3200×3200 template
  • Make sure image is square. No image outside of the viewable area in Photoshop, it has to be cropped to a square. Now run spherize filter at 60%.
  • Raster circle cutout on separate layer with black background.

Note: Check Out Domemaster Photoshop Action Packs

Adobe Illustrator CS5

  • 3200×3200 template
  • Vector circle cutout on separate layer with black background.
  • Make sure image is square. No image outside of the Artboard area, it has to be modified to a square. Now run Effect>Warp>Fisheye>Bend 60%. Sometimes this effect won’t give the desired effect on an image, I found so far that the image needs to be vector.

Adobe Flash CS5

  • 3200×3200 template
  • Vector circle cutout on separate layer with black background.
  • Use Illustrator or Photoshop to spherize images.

Adobe AfterEffects

  • 3200×3200 template
  • Created circle template using Circle Mask tool. Resized circle so it’s the same size as the stage.
  • Use the Effect>Distort>Sphere on an image cropped to 3200×3200. Edit the Radius so it’s 1024. Center of Sphere should be 1024.0 and 1024.0.
  • Use Render Queue to export your movie. Use the settings on Digital File Formats document
  • Note: you need to delete the stroke prior to export.

Apple Motion

  • 3200×3200 template
  • Created template with Circle Tool.  Fill set to 0, stroke enabled (right click in circle and select stroke). Make top layer and add effects, animation, etcetera under it.
  • Use Filter>Distortion>Sphere  on an image cropped to 3200×3200. After applying this effect go to Filters tab in Inspector. Change the Radius to 1000.
  • Exported using settings on Digital File Formats document

Final Cut Pro

  • Change Sequence Settings. Go to Sequence>Settings>General, then change Aspect Ratio to Custom, next change the width and height to 3200×3200.
  • Effects>Video Filters>Distort>Fisheye to apply the Final Cut Pro fisheye effect to your square 3200×3200 image. A better option is to use the fisheye images you’ve created in Photoshop for this.
  • Could not find a circle mask.
  • When exporting, change your settings of your import to “Custom…” A Sequence Preset Editor will appear. Change your frame size to 3200×3200, your timebase to 30, and your compressor to Motion JPEG A.



Check out this post for more information on Fulldome Opportunities and Resources for Artists


Information for this list created from IMERSA , Ethan Bach, former IAIA student, Louva Hartwell.