musings

Today’s Find – A Comet!
Clean-up work of the SDSS data continues (more about that here). It's about the hardest things I can ever recall doing both due to the millions of image files to go through but also the level of eye focus and mental strain it requires.But unexpected pleasures come along the way. Like today, which turned up this lovely little image that turned about to be a known comet, C/2001 RX14 (Linear). An unlovely name for a lovely little comet that most of us, myself included, had never laid eyes upon.To exploring ...
Return of the Blog: Where the film is today
The blog has been offline for some time because it just seemed like too much work for me to maintain with everything else. However, we now have a great group of volunteers handling social media updates as well as website updates and that has been working very well. But sometimes a short Facebook post or 140 character Twitter update just does not give enough time to explain things.I won't be posting daily, more like once to a few times a week and links to posts will be on social media.So, where is the film today? Sometimes a picture is worth a thousands words :) Here's a graphic, with the amounts of colors visually corresponding to how things stand. Be sure to click the image for the full resolution.On the one hand, you can clearly see most of the work is complete. But on the other hand remember this is over an 8 year process, so for every 6 months, the film only gets about 6.25% done. And if I am just 10% wrong about how long the film will take, that's a 9 month error!Right now, there are two primary reasons the film is not yet complete and one simple reason why it's so hard to figure out exactly how much time is left.The opening section of the film ("Big Bang to Milky Way" in the chart above) is proving to be the most challenging part of the film. We started behind as we lost key volunteers at the beginning of 2014 that started the work on this section. And now there are enormous challenges taking 350,000 images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), cutting them up to 5,500,000 (5.5 Million) images of galaxies and re-assembling as photographic model of the observed universe. Health challenges - beginning with bad ankle injury (February), continuing with major ankle surgery (July) with rehab still ongoing and concluding with kidney stones and hospital stays (December).The good news is my ankle surgery is finally healed enough to ease back into normal activity and the kidney stone was hopefully a one-time event due to dehydration likely related to working too-long hours in a hot basement filled with computers and not going upstairs enough (ankle) to drink water.Also, the volunteers have been making good progress on the opening section and work on the film is resuming. When exactly will be film be done? The truthful answer is "soon".That brings me to why it is so hard to estimate a finish date. Almost every aspect of the film has never been done before, by me or anyone else. Photoanimations in other films have been limited from a few seconds to a couple of minutes at longest and made from one to several photographs (multiplane). The multiplane photoanimations in In Saturn's Rings range from dozens to tens of thousands or in the case of the opening section 500,000 or more photographic layers in a single view!So we hope and plan and aim to be done soon but we are pioneering through unexplored places in filmmaking. Stayed tuned here for more in-depth posts on the making of the film. ...
Ray Bradbury remembered by Andrew Chaikin
I've been very fortunate with all the smart, talented and accomplished people who have endorsed and supported the film. One of those is noted space author and journalist, Andrew Chaikin. He recently was on NPR to remember Ray Bradbury and I was very moved by what he had to say.http://www.npr.org/2012/06/07/154485146/remembering-ray-bradbury ...
Another Movie Made with only Real Photographs
When I present my footage or talk to people and tell them I'm making a film using only real photographs - I often know what is in their head. It's something like this - which is nicely done and entertaining - but nothing like what I'm doing: ...
Not-for-profit & Not-for-sale
As the film moves closer and closer to completion - and has more and more venues around the world express interest in the film - the question comes up about money and Outside In.Although I have considered all sorts of models for Outside In in years past, since 2007 it has been a legal, fiscally sponsored non-profit undertaking financed 100% by individual donors and sponsors. At first it seemed this would not be enough, but the viral exposure last year really helped push the film forward. Now, the base of supporters is strong enough to raise the remaining funds to finish the film.Yes, there is more money to raise, but doing 3 to 4 small fundraisers a year will be enough to finish the film in digital form. At that time, the digital version can be screened to raise the final costs (music licensing, insurance, mastering costs) - that is not a huge obstacle.This all means the film will be finished debt-free and without anyone, other than myself, owning the content. This is the primary reason I have wanted to keep the film non-profit. So much of the content has been donated to the film, supported by the donors and sponsors, and I want to give that back, share it with scientist, teachers, schools and outreach efforts. It would be nearly impossible to do this if private investors were funding the film.So the film will remain a not-for-profit until complete - to protect the film itself, to protect use of the content and to honor the vision of myself and the long-time supporters of the project.And that makes me happy....
Stanley Kubrick’s B-day & Launch of Urgent Fundraiser
Today would have been Stanley Kubrick's 83rd birthday. There is a reason that launching a fundraiser today for "Outside In"  is very appropriate.In 1985, I was at a library in Knoxville, TN watching movies on VHS, trying to catch up on the many films I had missed as a kid. I put in a tape of "2001: A Space Odyssey" and watched it on the tiny 13" TV.I was simply blown away. I had no idea movies could be like this -- so rich, complex, mysterious and elegant about things that excited me - science, space, exploration, the unknown.Later, as I studied film and became aware of the craft, "2001" became even more special. The amazing editing, sound design, cinematography, use of music (Kubrick was a pioneer in using existing music as score) was a huge influence on not only me, but generations of filmmakers."2001" probably inspired more filmmakers that any other film and is a landmark in cinematic history. Of course, on release it struggled with the critics. But today, it's one of the most influential films ever made.The entire concept and execution of "Outside In" is based on what I learned watching and dissecting "2001". Most importatly, if you want to truly engage an audience on both a primal and intellectual level:  show, don't say. Cinema is about visuals, sound and music. Not talking or reading. "2001" demonstrates the power of this. Hopefully, "Outside In" can live up to this standard.That's why, from the beginning, Outside In is "in memory of Stanley Kubrick". May he rest in peace but live on the screen forever....
Sometimes It’s the Little Things…
I have no idea who sent this but it arrived a couple of days ago. I've been slammed with all the attention and the work on how to best leverage the exposure. But with thoughts of this swirling around in my head, I walked out to my mailbox.Sometimes it really is the simple, small gestures in life, from someone I will likely never know or meet, that matter....
Why We have not found Alien Life
This is a very thought-provoking essay from SEED magazine worth a read. And it's one of the first things I've come across that addresses the core themes in Outside In. It's my view that answers, discoveries - actually even the right questions, are not to be found in the consumptive and internal/virtual angst-ing that is becoming the dominant activity on our planet.And this essay makes the point that video games and virtual worlds have become a poor substitute drug for the restless exploratory nature of our species - which is a big point in Outside In. But we are not going to find any new answers to anything in Halo 4 or Gawker 3.0.I think if you read this essay, the title of the film might be a little clearer. In other words, there is only one way for us to even ask the right questions - and that way is Outside In, not from the inside out....