Neurodome FAQ

So far our Kickstarter campaign is on it’s way to success – we now have 80 backers on board, and there probably will be more by the time anyone reads this blog post.

Though we’ve gotten a lot of encouragement, respect, and, yes, praise for the project, when it comes to fundraising we’re still getting some “I don’t get it.” Which means it’s high time for this FAQ style post!

First off, if you haven’t already, watch our pitch video.

Q. What exactly are you trying to do in this project?

A. The NEURODOME project, a fiscally-sponsored nonprofit project, was founded to create a concrete deliverable – animations that fly through space and the brain. We want these animations to:

1. Inspire.
2. Show the public what real images from the brain look like.
3. Educate the public not only about neuroscience, but about what imaging technology can do.  After all, imaging modalities are the “spaceships” of the inner frontier.

That said, thanks to the diversity of team members’ backgrounds, we are exploiting the occasion to foster three major spin-off goals:

(1) Bring the public data directly from scientists, minimally post-processed. We want to encourage scientists to share and showcase awesome 3D data from the brain that typically only scientists get to see.

(2) Engineer ways to use our 3D brain visualizations in more traditional educational settings – workshops, classroom, etc. – possibly through live “virtual tours.” Live brain dissections actually show people what the stuff in our heads looks like, but unless you’re a neuroscientist or neurologist, it’s really hard to know what you’re looking at. This is an opportunity to tour the brain from the inside, highlighting cells and structures that would otherwise just look like mush.

(3) Share with others techniques and tricks for porting unconventional / device-specific data types into more standard animation (e.g. Maya, Blender) or analysis (e.g. Matlab) environments…as well as tricks for making 3D neuro data look awesome. Ultimately through open-access publications.


Q. What exactly are you pitching to accomplish in the Kickstarter campaign?  Put another way, what are you going to do with $25K?

A. $25K will buy us the creation of the visualization tools and a 5 minute proof of principle.  Though the animation sounds short, this represents the biggest hurdle: putting our data up in a dome. With voiceover and music to boot. With further funds – especially if we exceed our fundraising goal – our ultimate goal is two 10-minute animations that would be screened back-to-back.  If we do not exceed our goal significantly, then when we’ve completed our 5 minute animation, we will fundraise further at that point, though not necessarily via Kickstarter (grants, both foundation and public).

It’s funny – you say $25K to a scientist and they say “$25K for just that??” while a film person says “Are you crazy? You think you can do all that for $25K??  Besides requiring hardware and software, this project employs professional animators, editors, and software developers.  For this project, they’re working below market value but not for free.