space stuff

September/October 2017 screenshots
In case you've missed our social media posts recently, here is some stuff from the Milky Way Grand Zoom, SDSS flybys and the final mosaic by the Cassini spacecraft before it plunged into Saturn (with a quote from the film)....
What’s Up This Week (er Month) with ISR
It's been too long since I posted an update (there will be a larger email update in April) but here's a quick tour of what's going on.Progress and challenges on the opening sectionThe primary section of that film that is behind schedule - the fly-through of the universe from the Beginning to Earth - about 1/4 of the film - is coming along. We have solved the complex challenges and now it's just a matter of doing the work. We have the unexpected challenge of cleaning up stars out of 5.5 million galaxy cutouts (more about that here). This is going to ultimately delay the film another 4 months, but I'm over halfway through (3 Million+) and working at a faster speed thank to programmable mice and other tricks.The rest of the team working on the opening section has figured out exactly how to place all these 5.5 million galaxies in this section so everything is the correct distance and scale. This will be BY FAR the largest and most complex photographic animation in history. Here's a simple diagram Bill Eberly who leads up the team has put together. He will be horrified since it was just for internal use explaining the complex math and code, but I think it helps give an idea of what exactly we are doing. Click to see the full size.FINAL FOOTAGEFinally, next week I will be in the Outer Banks of NC getting the very last photographs for the film (about 10,000 or so). This was originally supposed to be at the Kennedy Space Center back in April 2014, but if you recall, I suffered a serious ankle injury Feb 24th that year. It was supposed to then be rescheduled for late Dec 2014 when I was recovered enough from ankle and kidney stones, but NASA &KSC red tape has held it up ever since. Finally, I had to cancel and come up with an alternate shoot which I feel is still true to the script and will be just as good. So heading to Rodanthe, NC to get panoramic stills and time lapse at high resolutions to fit the concept of "shores of the cosmic ocean". Before and after packing pics...
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 ...
What’s Up with ISR This Week
More of the same - and the waiting game. I'm continuing to work on cleaning up rogue stars, corrupt files and problems with the millions of cutouts in SDSS data I mentioned last time. I've developed good speed and getting through a decent chunk every session.Plus, Bill Eberly, lead on the SDSS programming volunteers, wrote code to resize all the cleaned cutouts to 750 x 750 pixels. Not changing the size of them, just added transparent pixels around the smaller ones (the largest ones are around 750 pixels) to insure that we can do scientifically accurate placement in the final renders.So this is what my workspace looks like today (click for high res if you have big monitor) - remote accessing two machines, one manual cleanup of SDSS while running Bill's resize code folder by folder. Occasional errors have to be dealt with manually. It will take about 6 weeks to finish all this. Good to have dual 30" monitors. :)But I can't do this all day, so also continuing to try to schedule to shoot panoramic stills at Kennedy Space Center for the last minute of the film - being working on this for 2 months amidst much red tape and involving, NASA in 4 offices plus SpaceX plus the US Air Force. But it looks like I will finally be able to head there this month. I've revised the ending of the film three times and this ending is the one. Plus work by others on the film on sound, score, Titan imagery tweaking and LRO cleanup.Back to SDSS...
My God, it’s Full of Stars.
http://youtu.be/oALxLNOhI6I?t=1m44s The other reason( than the health issues) that that film is taking longer to complete is the work on the opening section which involves 5.6 million images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and thousands of high resolution images from Hubble, ESO and more. We will have a full blog post detailing how this section is being made from the full team, but we are finally solving the uber complex issues and rolling along.Of course, dealing with 5.6 million images there are huge obstacles just sorting, copying etc. Right now I'm getting rid of problematic local star over exposures, bad frames, corrupted files etc. I have several hundred folder of images from 2 to 80,000 to clean out. We are aiming to deal with 100% of visual artifacts that people might actually see and get as close to 100% scientific accuracy as is humanly possible with the photographic data we have.Here are before and after shots of cleaning up a folder.BEFORE:AFTER:So far, about 200,000, only 5.3 million to go :)   ...
In Saturn’s Rings @ Astronomy Days
Watch and share! This is a promo piece for film that really shows the wide range of audience appeal for the film. It was shot at Astronomy Days by a friend and long-time supporter Ioannis Batsios (visit his website here).[ba-vimeoflex videoid="61027354"]...
Major New Milky Way Image Composite
After three years of trying, I finally have the all-sky milky way mosaic photograph needed for the "big shots" in the film - it's 648 Megapixels!!!! This image is to scale showing how much larger it is the one I've used for test shot! Thanks to Axel Mellinger for his amazing work in putting this together.It's created from 3000 original dark sky photographs in Texas, Michigan and my home country, South Africa. Amazing work and will be spectacular in the film.Read more about it at Axel's website....
More Titan & Saturn beauty
More Titan & Saturn beauty. This is my redo of a composite color image that is out there - my take on a better color balance. Also did some work on better moon placement between the red/blue/green exposures. ...