Artificial Outdoors Display

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Typical night at the Great Hall.

This trope is where a sufficiently large interior of a building has an artificial "outdoors" area to it; commonly (but by no means always) comes with plants, animals, as well as imagery of clouds and sun.

This can be accomplished by varying means; using holograms is the most common choice (either technological or magical), although something as mundane as decorating the ceiling and walls with outdoor imagery also counts here.

Sometimes may involve City in a Bottle or Domed Hometown, in which case this illusion may or may not be a privilege for a certain class of people. The common plot involving such a setting can be either the governor of said place deceiving its denizens with faked scenery while hiding the real one (which is usually worse) to the common public, or when said denizens willingly put a more beautiful imagery over the worse real atmosphere (this one can happen in regular buildings as well). It may even be part of a Lotus-Eater Machine or Pocket Dimension.

Sometimes this will be a part of Virtual Training Simulation; creating an artificial scenery for a training stage is a common feature. May overlap with Not So Remote if either the audience or the characters aren't aware the display is artificial.

Compare Weather-Control Machine or Weather Manipulation, where the weather is real but is artificially made. See also Skybox, which is essentially a non-in-universe version of this used in nearly all video games.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  

  • In One Piece, Crocus the doctor decorates the giant whale Laboon's inside with paintings of the sky.
  • Bleach.
    • Urahara has a habit of creating huge, elaborate, secret underground training rooms. The ground often has the look of rocky, mountainous terrain and the ceiling appears to be sunny, blue skies. When Ichigo comments on it, Urahara explains that he feels the airy, outdoor atmosphere makes for a better feeling when underground. Ichigo cynically retorts that's the sort of thing a gaoler would say. Hundreds of chapters later, it's confirmed that, until a century ago, Urahara did actually have a gaoler's job.
    • When Aizen took control of Las Noches, he had the huge interior arena converted to look like the outdoors. The ground is covered in sand and the ceiling looks like blue sky with the entire area lit by sunlight. Outside the building, Hueco Mundo exists in constant, moonlit darkness. The Espada believe, with due cause, that Aizen has set the area up so that everything the 'sunlight' touches is under his technological surveillance.
  • An episode of Appleseed XIII features a hotel with an internal atrium that has a park on the floor while the surrounding walls and ceiling are covered by a holographic projection of the sky.
  • Dallos is set in a lunar colony that's mostly underground or in a dome, but the cities have a simulated blue sky.
  • Megazone 23 is set onboard a massive colony ship whose inhabitants believe themselves to be living in 1980s Japan has a fairly normal looking sky in the backgrounds.
  • Armitage III. Ross Sylibus is apparently looking at the blue skies of Earth, but then hits a button to reveal it was just a ceiling projection, and he's in a small grungy room on Mars.
  • Used for a Bait-and-Switch ending in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Batou and the Major have apparently gone on leave together to a sun-lit beach, only to reveal they're lying under a holographic projection at Section 9's headquarters. Aramaki appears to tell them to get back to work, and they turn it off to reveal it's raining outside.

     Comic Books  

  • The Danger Room in X-Men serves this purpose to the titular team. The room can project holograms of many kinds of places, and later stories makes it more advanced by it literally morphing its structure to closely fit the actual scenery.
  • In Kingdom Come, Superman owns a massive room meant to look like a farm in Kansas, where he spends his days tending to the crops and animals. Wonder Woman stops on by and knocks out the holographic displays to reveal the dark metal walls on all sides. Understandably, the animals freak out. The real Kansas was rendered uninhabitable after an accident with a nuclear-powered villain, and Superman runs the artificial farm to take his mind off of recent depressing events. Wonder Woman turns off the holograms partially to try to get Superman to stop running from reality, as Superman's farm therapy isn't helping him recover and is in fact worsening his depression.

     Film — Animated  

  • Patema Inverted: About 2/3 into the film, Patema and Age/Eiji get swallowed up into the sky, seemingly to their deaths. It's only then that they realize that the "sky" is really the underside of an abandoned facility. It illuminates during the night, while they're stranded there, revealing that the "stars" had only been lights.
  • This is part of the Crapsaccharine World in The Lorax. Thneedville run by O'Hare looks lush and clean... but then you see that the "trees" are all fakes, the "grass-filled ground" conceals actual soil beneath it, O'Hare selling air to the citizens, and most of all, the bright blue sky is just a painting on a giant wall. Which Ted, the hero of the story, later breaks, to reveal to the other citizens the real world out there: a desolate ground with gray cloudy sky with no signs of life in sight.
  • The Axiom on WALL•E, which has a large open area on the Lido Deck that simulates day and night cycles, with the sun and the moon bearing BnL logos.
  • The windows of the original Benbow Inn from Disney's Treasure Planet can display colorful flowers and chirping birds to mask the cold, colorless exterior. Sarah Hawkins is shown adjusting a control knob to achieve this effect.

     Film — Live-Action  

  • The titular Elysium space station contains an idyllic living environment, with open air, trees, lakes and sunshine, for the elite of the world's population.
  • The enormous soundstage that houses The Truman Show is naturally designed to resemble an outside area, since its titular subject isn't meant to know he's inside an enormous soundstage. The exact details are never given, but the sun and stars are powerful stage lights, as shown when Sirius 6 falls down at one point.
  • In the second Alien film, Aliens, we see Ripley looking out at a forest of twittering birds, when the Corrupt Corporate Executive comes in, turning the scenery back into a hospital wall.
  • The colony in The Island has one projecting a scene of a mountain to the inhabitants, masking its true purpose. Lincoln Echo Six disables it at the end to reveal the truth to them.
  • Back to the Future Part II. In 2015, the McFly home has a window with a view of a pleasant sunny meadow. It turns out that the view is artificial, and is projected onto a venetian blind which is pulled down over the real glass window in order to hide the view of the urban sprawl.
  • Vicker's suite aboard the Prometheus has holographic displays showing scenes like snowy forests or grassy fields in a Call-Forward to the Aliens film.
  • Resident Evil. In the Elaborate Underground Base The Hive, one room has a window which displays the sights and sounds of a big city.
    Matt: Makes it easier to work underground, thinking there's a view.
  • The space crew in Sunshine finds relaxation and comfort on their long way towards the sun by using personalized 3D holodeck programs which place them in a forest or other familiar environments.
  • George Lucas wrote and directed THX 1138 in 1971 about a regimented dystopia. Renegades and criminals are sent to a bivouac, with supplies coming from below the floor. Almost nobody tried to leave the site, because a neurosuppressant in their food supply limited their field of vision: everything beyond an arbitrary distance appeared as white nothingness. The title character is able to escape this prison simply by walking far enough into this "nothingness."
  • Found aboard Cooper Station on Interstellar, where most of the interior is devoted to fields of crops. When Coop wakes up after decades in the singularity he at first thinks he's back on Earth, especially after seeing a bunch of kids outside playing baseball. Then he notices the ground curving up.
  • Tomorrowland has a means of seeing any location on Earth in a full 3D display.
  • The interior of Newt's Bag of Holding in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them contains several partitions enchanted to resemble the natural habitats of various creatures in his keeping.

     Literature  

  • In Prelude to Foundation Hari Seldon goes to an indoor park on Trantor. Most native Trantorans don't go to the parks — being that close to nature freaks them out — but it's an amenity for off-worlders, who didn't grown up in a domed planet-sized city.
  • Kur of Gor takes place almost entirely on a Kur "steel world" where they have wildernesses on the spaceships to simulate the world they left behind and the one they hope one day to live on. They also have artificial weather (sun, rain, thunderstorms, snow, etc.).
  • Ray Bradbury's short story "The Veldt". In a house of the future, the children's bedroom has virtual reality capability. It can project on its walls, ceiling and floor a simulation of an outdoor setting. The setting the children like most is an African veldt, complete with predatory animals capable of killing people.
  • The Gaming Domes of Dream Park are massive, fully enclosed stage sets where any conceivable type of terrain can be simulated for the Park's signature adventure scenarios.
  • In Harry Potter and its film adaptations, in almost every banquet scene at the Hogwarts' Great Hall, there's a special effect on the ceiling; sometimes it's falling snow, sometimes it's falling autumn leaves, and so on. It is enchanted to always correspond with the weather outside.
    • The (underground) Ministry of Magic's building has enchanted windows that look out on nice scenery. Arthur Weasley says they had two weeks of hurricanes when the maintenance people were trying to get a raise.
  • In Hollow Places, the ground of the Nine-Eyed Fish's inner sanctum changes from grass, to snow, to sand, transforming each time an observer takes notice of what's under their feet.
  • The Hunger Games' Arena. The Capitol may manipulate the landscape into whatever they wish for each Game, be it a desert, frozen wasteland, rainforest, et cetera, et cetera.
  • The Last Wish. The wizard Stregobor, who specializes in illusions has conjured a sunny field inside of his stone tower.
  • Played with in Light of Other Days. A material called "slow glass" is technically transparent but so dense that light takes weeks, months, or even years to pass through it. As a result, images on it can be preserved by placing the slow glass near a scenic area for a while then hoisting it elsewhere. With it, one can have the appearance of a window to a grassy meadow or mountain range or other site right outside one's room.
  • In The Heroes of Olympus, the Argo II dining room's walls are enchanted screens that show the heroes scenes of Camp Half-Blood. Once the screens are hacked by the Kerkopes and later, war comes to the camp, the scenes are far from cheering.

     Live Action TV  

  • Babylon 5 has large areas for such purposes. Part of it is orchards for growing food, but other parts are parks, including one with a hedge maze, a zen garden, baseball diamond, and Fresh Air, the finest restaurant on the station.
  • Cloud 9 on Battlestar Galactica (2003), which has a large park as its main appeal, which resulted in it being the setting of many receptions and parties...until it got nuked.
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. an underground bunker is shown to have an artificial window that shows an outside scene which changes periodically, to give the impression of not being buried deep underground.
  • Get Smart. The Chief's underground office has an obviously fake window showing the Washington DC skyline which actually hides a wall safe.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the episode "Flesh and Stone", the Doctor and his group are on a spaceship with a large forest-like arboretum, which is mostly used to create breathable air for the humans on board but can also be used like a park.
    • Another story has the Doctor and Martha arrive at an installation that they think is underwater, as they can see water and sealife outside the walls of the installation. They later discover that this is just a projection and that what can be seen outside the walls can be changed, which the Doctor demonstrates.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series. The asteroid ship Yonada has a hollow interior made to look like a sky. One of the inhabitants actually climbs a mountain high enough to feel the roof, giving the episode its name, "For the World is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky."
    • The holodecks were introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, a room with a series of holoprojectors and replicators that can create just about any environment or setting. The pilot episode shows Cmdr. Riker entering a holodeck simulation of a forest, crossing a stream, climbing a tree...
    • These became of utmost importance on Star Trek: Voyager when Voyager was travelling through the void. The holodeck was the only place where the crew didn't have to stare out at an infinite black expanse without even any stars.
  • Power Rangers has done this twice, specifically Power Rangers Lost Galaxy and Power Rangers RPM. The main setting of both series is a human-populated city enclosed within a massive dome which projects a sunny blue sky to the population. The contexts are different, with the former being a space colony cruising through the galaxy and the latter to protect the city from the post-apocalyptic nightmare the world has now become. However, in both cases, the reasoning does make sense when you think about it; when you're trapped in an enclosed environment in hostile territory and your future is uncertain, it's important to keep up morale. Of course, the real out-of-universe reason why is because the show needs a blue sky to match up with the Super Sentai footage.
  • The occasional episode of Monster House (no, not the movie) would do this. The show has a group of builders give a makeover to someone's house and some episodes have them recreating an outdoor scene.
  • Ascension (Miniseries): Seen on the upper decks of the Ascension, which look more like a series of open-air structures and apparently has one area made up like a beach. The lower decks are much more utilitarian and practical-looking.
  • The episode "15 Million Merits" of Black Mirror features one of these at the end, to underline how the protagonist just went from one caged existence to another one, that is just more expensive, but not any different.
  • The Orville: The heart of the colony ship is an enormous open area made to look like a fertile valley. The sky has a series of lights that illuminate it constantly, though there was supposed to be a night cycle as well. Captain Mercer eventually finds the way to open the main viewing port, causing the first night in thousands of years and showing the inhabitants exactly where they are.

     Newspaper Comics  

  • Foxtrot. During the Fun-Fun Caribbeanny Resort arc (Roger takes the family to a tropical resort a thousand miles from the ocean), one of the kids swims too far out and smacks into the fake backdrop. In another strip we see Roger and Andy looking out the window of their room at the sunset together... before it's replaced with a "Please swipe credit card to continue". It's a room with a pay-per-view.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Module D3 Vault of the Drow. Area R247 appears to be an outdoors setting at night, including a starry sky with a moon. It has small trees, shrubs, bushes and beautiful flowers, with small birds being heard in the foliage. Most of this is a permanent illusion: the birds are actually 100 bats and rats.
    • Module T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil. The interior of one room appears to be outdoors, with a blue sky and hot sun overhead. There appear to be foxes, jackals and giant rats in the area. All of this (except the jackals) is created by a Permanent Illusion spell.

     Video Games  

  • The Presidium of the Citadel Station in Mass Effect. It's set up like a large park, with trees and lakes running throughout, in contrast to the wards which are strictly technological.
  • BioShock's Arcadia even attempts to paint a sky on its ceiling in one part.
    • An unused concept for the sequel, shown in the Deco Devolution artbook, shows the ceiling of Pauper's Drop covered with sheets painted up to look like a cloud-filled sky.
  • Gage Blackwood's Hi-Rez 4D Environ System can do this in the first two games of The Journeyman Project. It's capable of projecting pictures of various scenes onto every wall, mixing them to music, and in the second game, doubling as an In-Game TV.
  • In Mega Man Zx Advent, Albert's lair in the sky, Ouroboros, somehow has a blue sky and a flower field inside his throne room. After the first-phase boss fight against him, he transforms with Model W and the atmosphere shatters, revealing a windy sunset sky (the actual atmosphere).
  • In Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, all of the game worlds LOG creates have an artificial aesthetic. Nutty Acres in particular is surrounded by television screens projecting a blue sky.
  • In Kirby Super Star, in the sub-game Great Cave Offensive, the titular underground cave is big enough to have a lake, a forest, a giant tower and a garden. But the actual trope comes out in the blue cloudy sky that appears in said garden area.
  • In the Halo games made by 343 Industries, the multiplayer maps are in-universe simulations, indicating that the post-war UNSC's holographic technology is now advanced enough to simulate a outdoors environment.
  • In Aperture Tag: The Paint Gun Testing Initiative, an officially approved fan-made mod for Portal 2, there are several test chambers set in what are obviously normal rooms painted to look like various outdoor locations.
  • A beta opening cutscene for Portal 2 depicts an island in the middle of the ocean, before the reveal shows it's just another room in Aperture Laboratories.
  • Command & Conquer: Renegade. The Hand on Nod is shown to have an area deep in its basement made to look like a wooded area for combat training.
  • The Star Trek Online Foundry mission "A Taste of Collateral Damage" features a large asteroid with habitation domes built into it. The domes have a planetary blue-sky-and-clouds holographically projected onto the ceiling, because, as the author put it:
    BorrowedTune: If you were forced to live in an orbiting geodesic dome, would you prefer to look at a grid and black space or a beautiful blue sky?
  • Metroid: Other M has hologram generators that help mask the fact that all of the rooms are in a space station. Finding and deactivating them is needed to reach the exit of the room.
  • In First Encounter Assault Recon 2, the hospital where Becket wakes up after being given his Second Hour Super Power turns out to have this; it's an underground complex with a holographic skyline outside the "windows".
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has a large room decorated like a small Japanese town. Inside a high-rise building. They even put a large cherry tree by a pool, something Armstong does not approve of in the opening of the Jetstream Sam DLC.
  • Mega Man 8: In Astro Man's stage, during the boss fight with him, the room you're in projects an imagery of moon surface. The projection stops after he's defeated. It is implied that the stage's backgrounds are all artificial as well.
  • In Overwatch, some of the interior walls of the spawn rooms on the Ecopoint: Antarctica map are projections of a tropical paradise, contrasting the ice cold environment outside.
  • In Uru, the Age of Ahnonay appears to be outdoors, but is actually the interior of a huge machine.

     Web Comics  

  • Hydroponic rooms in Gunnerkrigg Court have a bright blue sky.
  • The dome of the underground cavern over Orthorbbae in Drowtales has this, as does the Sullisin'rune dome. It's suggested that the Dark Elves made them to simulate the surface world after the loss of their homelands due to the war that ended the last age.

     Western Animation  

  • At the conclusion of the Loonatics Unleashed episode "The Menace of Mastermind", the Loonatics headquarters was left without electric power. However, the Loonatics were able to enjoy a simulated tropical vacation in their holographic training room, powered by Rev Runner on an exercise bike that runs a portable generator. The simulation dissolves when Rev stops for a rest break, and restores when Rev resumes pedaling.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive Shere Khan from Disney Television's TaleSpin maintains an elaborate arboretum on both sides of his office, very lush and verdant. It's large enough that when Rebecca comes to confront him about rising fuel prices, she first asks for some water. "It's a long walk across your office." Khan seems comfortable amid his greenery.

     Real Life  

  • Caesars Palace in Las Vegas has a real life version, also the Mexican pavilion in Epcot.
  • Planetaria are Real Life examples of this trope, where night skies are projected onto domed ceilings. Spaceship Earth features one at the very top, as well.
  • Many zoos are moving in this direction, particularly with animals that require specialized environments.
    • A polar exhibit will be a climate controlled room, made to look like ice floes, and the lighting determined by the time of year, darkened during winter months (which may be summer for northern zoos with an Antarctic display) and light during the summer.
    • A rainforest exhibit will feature lots of trees from around there and will be kept warm and steamy, with possible rain showers as well.
  • The Stampede 66 restaurant in Dallas, Texas features a large artificial tree with artificial night sky above in a take on a terrarium.
  • This is a common feature of theme parks in general, especially Disney and Universal. Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland, for example, has its queue area inside a building and styled such that it resembles a nighttime bayou complete with shooting stars and fireflies, and most of the ride is a mock-up of a colonial town during a pirate attack, which is entirely underground. Similarly, the last part of the Haunted Mansion at the same park is a graveyard full of ghosts and animates statues (explicitly set outside, since the ride vehicle enters that area through the attic window of the titular mansion) but is also entirely underground and therefore indoors.


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