Monday, November 12, 2012

using stellarium for generating fulldome scenes

Tried out both stellarium and blender for generating fulldome scenes for our mirrordome setup. Using the starball file from Ron Proctor, rotated it by 30 degrees or so over 250 frames - 10 seconds of 25 fps video. Rendering took seven hours at around 90 seconds per frame. Using stellarium, I could generate starfields and rotate them in real-time, and capture using tools like Fraps and Taksi. Performance-wise, Fraps is better, and is more user-friendly. But Taksi's price is right for me - free.

Initially had some trouble setting up Taksi - things to note are:
  1. The capture shortcut key must be chosen so that it does not interfere with the software from which you're capturing. For eg. the default F6 key causes the Location window to open in Stellarium.
  2. Taksi does not capture with some of the available codecs, for eg. those codecs which are decode-only, obviously! So, we have to choose the codec with care. Xvid seems to be OK, but frame-rates drop quite a bit due to processing overhead. Have to compensate by playing the scene slowly and speeding up the captured video later.
  3. Had trouble hiding the gui with Stellarium 0.10.2 - the
    core.setGuiVisible(false) ; //hide tool bar
    doesn't seem to work. Upgraded to 0.11.4 and then found that the 0.10.2 was the last version where the mirror warping worked! Alexander has upgraded this bug to Critical, so hopefully it will be fixed soon. Merely installing 0.10.2 over 0.11.4 did not work - Stellarium did not load correctly at all. Uninstalled and re-installed, restarted, then it worked.
  4. Since my laptop display is 1280x800, in order to get a higher resolution screen capture, hooked up an external monitor. The AOC Spectrum 7VIrA did support 1920x1080, but not 1600x1200. Had to go to
    NVIDIA Control Panel -> Set up multiple displays -> Only use one display
    for getting single display mode - the short-cut Fn-F5 was not working. Even in single display mode, the screen-grab of KMPlayer did not show the video. But stellarium was being captured OK at around 4 fps by Taksi (with Xvid codec) and 12 fps by Fraps (with it's own Fraps codec). Single display mode was required, because even though stellarium gets captured in dual-screen mode, it uses the resolution of the primary monitor - 1280 x 800 in my case and not the 1920 x 1080 of the secondary monitor when switching to full-screen mode.
  5. This version 0.10.2 has a bug with the auto-hidden toolbars not popping up when moving the mouse to the left corner. Have to use false flags for auto_hide_horizontal_toolbar and auto_hide_vertical_toolbar in the config.ini at
    C:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Stellarium
  6. Tried out a script with screen capture after moving one degree, works.
    for(azi=90; azi<=300; azi+=1)
    core.moveToAltAzi(alt, azi, 1);
    core.screenshot("myscreenshot", false);

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