Latest News on Film

In case you missed the newsletter here:, the latest update on the film is:

7.5 Million Photographs!!!

It’s a hot summer in Greensboro, NC, but I’m only occasionally seeing the sun. Lots of news in this update: 7.5 Million Photographs, Adagio for Strings on the radio, welcoming a new sponsor, and “the silver lining” of the film’s delays.

So many photographs….

As many of you know, over the years the “number of photographs” have moved from 1 million, over 1 million, 2 million etc. And now it’s 7.5 million – what happened?

Included in the last total of “over 2.5 million” was roughly 350,000 images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey that contain hundreds to thousands of galaxies each. A volunteer team spent about a year and half creating code to turn those images into approximately 5.5 million individual images of galaxies, each tagged with its location and distance in the universe via custom coding, complex math and lots of hard work. We were not going to count those as they would not be individually touched by hand. Or so we thought.

In January, we found that in our 557 folders with the millions of galaxies were a number of problem images, local milky way stars, satellite streaks, occasional corrupt images etc. Here’s an example:

The only choice was to clean them up…manually. Programming could not save us now. And there was no way to farm out or share the load due to the complex process and demands of cleaning these images.

So in mid-January, I begin the process, working every day, hoping it would take 2 to 3 months. Bad news, it’s going to take 7. Good news, I’ve finished all of them by mid-July and taking a couple of weeks off. It’s been mind-boggling, awe-inspiring, humbling, challenging, tedious and the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But trust me, trust all the team working on this, it will be worth it.

Nothing like this has ever been done before. When you see stars and galaxies flying through space in movie or documentary, they are not real. They are either pure CGI or the same few images repeated over and over using a CGI system.

The opening of In Saturn’s Rings will present a fly-through combining these 5.5 million photographs with work already completed of high resolution Hubble, ESO and other photographs, all placed in the correct location, each an individual photograph processed and touched by humans. It is the largest, most complex and most realistic photoanimation in history.

So yes, I’m now counting each of these images as individual photograph 🙂

What’s next? The render of this opening section followed by the final assembly of the film.

How long? Longer than 6 month, probably less than a year.

You can watch me work on the star cleanup in the video below.

[ba-vimeoflex videoid=”126973394″]


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