Cosmic Castaways – Creating the Show, Part 3

By on January 17, 2014 in

How do you plan  a planetarium show so that is educational and entertaining?  This post by Curt Spivey gives some concepts to pay attention to and how to put an outline together.

A General Outline for a Show

1. Start with a good idea. For me, it makes no sense to make ANOTHER solar system show or ANOTHER black hole show. Cosmic Castaways was a neat topic to work on, and one that you’ll not find in another planetarium show. If you work at or near a university, talk to the astronomers there and find some interesting topic that they specialize in. Astronomy has hundreds of interesting areas to explore.

2. Get the script right. You’ll never be able to match the million dollar graphics of the big production companies. However, no graphics can overcome a poor script! Cosmic Castaways started with John’s public lecture on intracluster light, which the two of us shaped and molded into a rough draft script.

leaves.smallI think my biggest forte is taking complex concepts and explaining them in a way most people can understand. Find simple ways to explain things, and look for good analogies (an example in Cosmic Castaways is “Like a leaf torn from a tree in a windstorm.”) We then lucked out by getting Pamela Gay, the public speaking maestro, to turn our basics into a really strong script. If you don’t have a Pamela Gay, study your favorite shows in your planetarium library and think about what makes those show so good, and also what you DON’T like about them – the term in EPO parlance is that “Jar Jar Binks” moment. Avoid the latter!

In the next post in this series, Curt will talk about the importance of soundtracks in planetarium shows, and not re-inventing the wheel.

Science on the Half Sphere’s first full-length planetarium show is Cosmic Castaways. In this series of posts, we will talk about how the show was made. The goal is to help other people interested in making full-dome planetarium shows see what we did, and hopefully avoid our mistakes!  This post is by Curt Spivey.


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