Northern Lights Experience


The northern lights experience was developed by Lyle Ruggles, a Digital Learning Specialist who works for the Lethbridge College in the Center for Teaching, Learning and Innovation. Though his main work consists of technical support, educational technology, and media development; he has a passion for visual effects and immersive experiences. When Lyle heard of the opportunity to develop such an experience, he jumped at the chance to work on it.

He used a VFX software called Adobe After Effects to create the animation. The computer processing power required was substantial; each 30 second render would take between 8 to 10 hours of rendering time, which makes for a very long render of the final 15-minute animation.

Through the various stages of development, many people were asked to provide feedback in hopes of making the animation as authentic as possible.

Lyle also had the privilege to work alongside Chase Boogaart—Owner/Operator of Coulee Computer Solutions and former colleague—on the development of the multi-projection system used in the dome. They used six projectors around the dome, each projection overlapping to ensure coverage on the dome’s projection surface. Using a specialized software called Vioso Anyblend, these projectors were all stitched together, creating one dome projection.

During the prototyping phase, there wasn’t a dome for testing the animations. To fix this, Chase built one out of bedsheets, tablecloths, and tent poles. There also wasn’t a render farm for all the processing needed, but by finding three other computers and having each render 30 seconds of the various parts, they were able to compile the full 15-minute animation.

There were many obstacles with this project—from computer repairs, to rendering the animation, to the various projector calibration and dome issues—but Lyle and Chase persevered and came up with creative solutions for each challenge. There were several experts that lent a hand throughout the process and who helped make the project succeed.

A special thanks to:

Michelle Day, and the Nikka Yuko team

Duke Higerson, and the Wesbridge team

Kevin Zevchik, from Vioso

The DomeGuys

From Lethbridge College and beyond:

Jason Donkersgoed                 Gavin Brinsmead

Jackie Doherty                        Tristan Tuckett

Joelle Reynolds                       Spencer Nelson

Lexi Schaerz                           Amber Bagu

Kelsey Janzen                         Brenna Lowrie

Lyle Ruggles                           Tyler Wall

Katherine Hatton                     Kyle Snowdon

Chase Boogaart                      

Enjoy the experience!

Posted on:
Thursday, November 17, 2022