News

LeVar Burton Narration announce
LeVar Burton to Narrate
Happy Holidays! As long-time fans know, the film script had no narration after 2009. But by 2014, I realized sparse, elegant narration would be key to making the film work well. I kept quiet until the right narration was ready.But not narration by any just narrator - I wanted the gifted voice of a trained actor --intelligent, expressive and truthful. I listened to dozens of voices and one person stood out.We are honored, excited and humbled to have LeVar Burton agree to narrate the film. Much more about this over the next few months. "Your Name Here" - in the credits with LeVar Burton If you want to have your name in the film along with LeVar Burton's, you need to act fast. The credits of the film will be put together soon, so we are closing the window for donations that include a screen credit at the end of this year - just a few days away. And if you are one of our awesome backers, you can move up the list closer to LeVar. Your generous donations will help us cover the recording and mixing costs of the narration.Tax Deductible donations can be made here: DONATE Regular donations can be made here: DONATEA complete list of perks for donors/backers is here:  PERKS...
Bryan Adams & ISR – new video
Bryan Adams, yeah that Bryan Adams, released a new music video that he also directed, "Please Stay" that uses footage from the film in a beautiful way. It's a bucket list level thrill for me as songs like "Run to You", "Cuts like a Knife" and "Summer of Sixty-Nine" are always in my top playlist rotation.How did this happen? Well, it almost didn't. I got a very simple email back in early September signed "Bryan Adams (singer / songwriter)" wanting to use footage in a new music video he was directing to promote his new album.I immediately thought it was fake. The email did say "There is stock footage available from video outlets, but your footage is way cooler." True, but compliments and flattery are part of social engineering attacks.I won't confess how close I came to deleting it as some weird phishing spam thing, but I decided to check the DNS, mail headers etc. Sure enough, it came from this domain which looked pretty damn official: http://www.bryanadams.com/. I read up on Bryan Adams at Wikipedia. Turns out he he's a pretty cool guy with a vibrant creative career.More to the point - he's a stunningly good photographer. http://bryanadamsphotography.com/ - spend some time there, well worth it.Huh. Go figure.So I replied, trying not to be too OMG! OMG! OMG! Bryan Adams! I love you so much!!! etc. etc. We ended up exchanging emails, eventually bringing in a couple of his production folks and I sent them a bunch of footage to use for the shoot. It was a comfortable, easy process and I could not be more pleased with how it turned out. Bryan has a great eye for visuals and really cool to see how people play with this imagery we've created.But beyond the video, it speaks to the very core of the film. Bryan Adams was obviously searching for something beyond the usual CGI/stock space footage that is available and what we are used to seeing.He had a very different reaction, as many people do, to real images from space animated with multiplane verses CGI footage you see everywhere. Real images have "a quality" that drives myself and the entire group of image processors on the film to create and share this imagery.Bryan Adams is an accomplished singer, songwriter, photographer but at the end of day, he's like every other fan and volunteer of the film. We all love these images and want them as part of fabric of our lives.  They are truly universal in every sense of the word and the entire heart of this film.Thanks again to Bryan and his entire team for doing such a fantastic job and letting "In Saturn's Rings" be a small part of it....
ISR to attend Cassini Grand Finale
CASSINI's Grand Finale - We will be there Live! In case you have not heard, the end of Cassini's historic mission is Sept. 15th next week with a dramatic plunge into Saturn's atmosphere. It is both a sad and joyous occasion and we are thrilled to have be invited to attend with full media credentials. What does that mean for you?Exclusive live coverage on our social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook - with some live streams We will be filming interviews, filming Mission Control and more for the Behind-the-scenes materials for the DVD/Blu-Ray releases We will be making useful contacts with JPL, NASA and other space folk to help with the premiere of the film next MaySo be sure to follow along - we leave September 12th and return the 16th. And yes, we will leave plenty of final renders churning while we are gone. You can learn more about the Grand Finale direct from JPL/NASA here: https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/grand-finale/overview/...
May 4th 2018
The film premieres on the giant screen on May 4th, 2018, International Space Day and Star Wars day, locations to be announced soon....
Twitter & Instagram alive & kicking
As the film is coming together, we have lot more we can share now that the many long months of work on the mother of all renders is complete.So we have our Twitter (@insaturnsrings) and Instagram (in_saturns_rings) feeds up and running. And they will stay running daily with rare exceptions. We will be sharing quick and dirty images, screen captures and exclusive video filmed off monitors of footage, project files and other BTS material that won't be released online any other way as on Facebook & email we tend to share more formal type information.Twitter and Instagram will have similar content but not exactly the same with retweets etc.Real insider stuff - enjoy! ...
Update on Final Renders – Screenshots!
Work on the film is humming along, especially now that the most complex photoanimation is in the can so to speak - thanks again to our volunteer render machines that made 5.5 years of machine render time happen in 3 months.We are still on schedule from the release date (Q2/3 2018) we announced last September. Footage for the first third of the film is coming out in batches - pictured here are two galaxy flyby's - Arp 273 (the complex one) and NGC 3370. Footage is final  although a final color correction will take place with finished renders when the entire film is complete.Also, we have reprocessed Colin Legg's 5 camera, 11-days and nights time-lapse footage to extract 25% more resolution for 8K renders and much improved day to night and night to day transitions. Thanks to Colin for all his hard work making that happen. A frame from in the the historical imagery (Zeitgeist) sequence that illustrates the loss of the night sky through human history is included to tweak your interest in the film and no, this is not a secret sequel to "Skull Island" - :)More and more footage will be piling up this year culminating in a our first official trailer (no more teasers!) in mid September in honor of Cassini's Grand Finale....
Now Seeking 16GB RAM Render machines! Free Perks!
We have successfully tested the render process on machines with 16GB of RAM and now only requires Adobe After Effect 2015.3. We now also supply the plugins needed. This should allow us to bring more machines.In a testing on  2.3 Ghz i7 Mac Mini (late 2012 model) with 16GB of RAM, it will take around 360 hours to render 10 frames or 36 hours per frame, so make sure you can dedicate that time. But 10 frames will earn you a great set of perks from the film.For each frame (the film is 24 frames per second and this sequence runs around 40 seconds i.e. 960 frames) you render successfully, you earn $24 of donation value. 10 frames will get you a lovely set of perks from the film - check them out here. And bragging rights to render part of the most complex multiplane animation in film history as well as containing the largest composite image (by factor of 8 i.e. 8.6 Terapixels!!!) in history.The catch? If you think your machine is fast, well this render will make it hurt, hurt real bad. Render are 1 to 3 days PER FRAME on fast machines.  And you will need these items.Patience A signed NDA in-saturns-rings-nda-v3 Adobe After Effects 2015.3 Mac or Windows A fast machine - quad core, recent CPU, at least 14GB of RAM, an SSD - there are 5 million small PNG files (the individual galaxies) that bring spinning hard disks, even RAID, to their knees Notably, a fast CPU is much more important than graphic card - render does not use the GPU at all so just a basic discrete GPU will work fine Battery backup and cool running system recommended. Time! :)Contact me if you would like to become part of animation history!...
Update on Film’s Progress
Blog updates have been a bit slow but will pick back up here. Some of you may recall my (Stephen van Vuuren, the director) ankle surgeries from 2014 & 2015.  Long story short, those surgeries failed and I've been on waiting list in 2016 for experimental bone transplant surgery. My number came up in December and surgery was Jan 4th. Everything has gone well so far - and I was well practiced this time to keep film production going while I can't walk or sit at desk for very long.So despite the surgery, progress of the film is going very well. We are in a rendering phase - that mother of all renders I've blogged about. It's well over half complete. Here are a couple of peeks at how it's turning out.First, here is a 25% resolution of the full 5200 x 4200 pixel frame (click for full resolution). Each speck in this image is an individual galaxy image from Sloan Digital Sky Survey placed and scaled use the best scientific data on it's location and size in the universe. There are several million galaxies, each one visible and countable (at full resolution if you have good eyes).Here's a 100% crop into the same frame:Later in this shot we will zoom in on Arp273 which we have processed the high resolution imagery for - then the sequences continues on through another ten high rez galaxies accurately placed in the full set of 5.1 million SDSS galaxies leading us all the way to Andromeda and our own Milky Way. The full sequence will be complete in 2 to 3 more months!...
Most complex photo animation in history
I'm finalizing the layers and "camera POV" for the most complex animation of photographs in history (that I can find). The overall sequence will feature 5.1 million individual galaxy photographs from SDSS (mid-ground), 8.6 Terrapixels of distant galaxies (background) and 10 high resolution multiplane images of galaxies from Hubble and ESO sources. We split it up into 10 sections, once for each high resolution galaxies to make it possible even with the fastest desktop computers available.First up is the most complex one - 1.2 million individual galaxies in the mid-ground, 700 megapixels (.7 gigapixels) of background data and 125 megapixel image of Arp273 broken up into scientifically accurate mutiplanes. Read more here about multiplane and how it would have required camera and camera stands kilometers high to shoot with a real animation camera.Despite running on a 4.1 Gigahertz overclock 12 core processor with 128GB of RAM and fast PCIe dedicated drive, it takes about 9 hours to initially open the project to see a visual. Then, if I reduce the resolution to 25%, it takes about 1 to 3 hours to move from frame to frame. So I'm forced to reduce resolution to 12.5 percent (only see 1 of 8 pixels in the image) so I can see new frames in roughly an 15 to 30 minutes and see crude playback (every 5th frame) overnight.It's by a massive margin, the most difficult work I've ever attempted to finalize this, but the result will be mind-blowing. For myself and Bill Eberly's crack volunteers that have worked nearly 3 years on this, it's deeply satisfying to be see it come to fruition.We are still looking for volunteers to help render frames (final render takes 1 to 3 days a frame). See here for more.Here's what this looks like in Adobe After Effects spread over 3 monitors. After Effects allows us to exactly mimic having real photographs printed on glass on animation stand with a camera mounted vertically and moved framed by frame, exactly like Walt Disney started doing nearly 100 years ago. ...
Seeking Render machines! Free Perks!
Remember the talk of the massive, most complex render yet? Well it's underway now - and we are looking for volunteer machines to help render.You will earn perks too! For each frame (the film is 24 frames per second and this sequence runs around 40 seconds i.e. 960 frames) you render successfully, you earn $24 of donation value. 10 frames will get you a lovely set of perks from the film - check them out here. And bragging rights to render part of the most complex multiplane animation in film history as well as containing the largest composite image (by factor of 8 i.e. 8.6 Terapixels!!!) in history.The catch? If you think your machine is fast, well this render will make it hurt, hurt real bad. Render are 1 to 3 days PER FRAME on fast machines.  And you will need these items.Patience A signed NDA in-saturns-rings-nda-v3 Adobe After Effects 2015.3 Mac or Windows Red Giant Particular 2.2.6 - note this NOT the current version, you will have to downgrade if you do as newer versions have a bug (reported to Red Giant but no fix is available). We are not creating particles, sign the NDA above and we can say more :) Red Giant Horizon (any version) A fast machine - quad core, recent CPU, at least 64GB of RAM (we may get 32GB working, not sure yet), an SSD - there are 5 million small PNG files (the individual galaxies) that bring spinning hard disks, even RAID, to their knees Notably, a fast CPU is much more important than graphic card - render does not use the GPU at all so just a basic discrete GPU will work fine Battery backup and cool running system recommended. Time! :)Contact me if you would like to become part of animation history!...