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Dome Fest West: Participants Explore Potential of Immersive Entertainment

“It’s about this convergence of the physical and the digital,” says the CEO of Cosm, which is building a dome near Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium.

Are domes part of the future of immersive entertainment? This topic will be examined at Dome Fest West, a 360-degree film festival and conference that kicks off this evening at the Orange Coast College Community Planetarium in Costa Mesa, California.

Among its sponsors is immersive tech developer Cosm, which last month began construction of its first public entertainment venue at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Park, home of SoFi Stadium. When completed, it’s expected to house a 26.6-meter (roughly 87-foot) diameter LED dome in a 65,000-square-foot facility that can hold up to 1,700 guests.

Meanwhile, with an estimated construction cost of $1.865 billion, MSG Entertainment is building its first MSG Sphere in Las Vegas. When completed (it’s set to open in late 2023), it will house a 160,000-square-foot wraparound LED display on the interior and 580,000-square-foot LED display on the exterior, while accommodating up to 20,000 guests.

Both MSG and Cosm are planning to build additional domed entertainment venues, to offer entertainment from immersive experiences to live concerts in more cities.

“It’s about this convergence of the physical and the digital. The dome form factor is an amazing way to bring that to life,” Jeb Terry, president and CEO of Cosm, tells The Hollywood Reporter. Cosm also develops presentation technology that Terry says is used in an estimated 700 planetariums, including Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory and the Costa Mesa venue being used for Dome Fest West.

He believes these dome-shaped venues represent a smart way to expand into immersive entertainment.

“We are seeing operators looking at more types of content and finding ways to leverage their domes,” agrees Ryan Moore, executive director of Dome Fest West. “For years the scientific community built these domes for very specific purposes: educational content. With VR and 360-degree content becoming more commonplace, they can [also use] these domes for entertainment.” Moore suggests companies making immersive experiences will be able to remaster this content for such venues.

“There so much potential,” says Moore. “People have just barely begun to learn the language of immersive cinema.”