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Aeterna
March 15, 2011 11:25 AM   Subscribe

“Outside In” is a jaw-dropping IMAX film currently in production that uses only photographic images from space probes to create a tour of the solar system in a one smooth, continuous camera shot – no 3D, no models, no matte paintings - by a single filmmaker in his basement. Via
If you find the site overloaded, you can also see the trailer for the film at APOD or on Vimeo. Also of note: some amazing photographs of the Sun and other celestial objects by Alan Friedman, and a shot of Saturn’s moon Dione seen past Rhea, reminiscent of 2001.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (36 comments total) 109 users marked this as a favorite

 
favouriting very hard. thanks.
posted by peterkins at 11:31 AM on March 15, 2011


Titan, Rings, and Saturn from Cassini
posted by homunculus at 11:43 AM on March 15, 2011


Wonderful! Thanks.
posted by williampratt at 11:44 AM on March 15, 2011


That's amazing.

Stupid question: If the probes send back enough frames to make a movie...why don't they just send back a movie? It seems like you could use inter-frame information to improve the compression a lot more and save on bandwidth. Or maybe bandwidth isn't the main problem, but reliability is? So then you'd like each image to be stand-alone in case the previous one was dropped.
posted by DU at 11:48 AM on March 15, 2011


Amazing project. Thanks for this.
posted by D at 11:52 AM on March 15, 2011


If the probes send back enough frames to make a movie...why don't they just send back a movie?

Cassini was launched back in 1997, and its design dates back to the early 80s. It's quite possible that design constraints and the then-state-of-the-art in video compression and hardware made video impractical.
posted by jedicus at 11:56 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm curious about the lack of stars. Is that because he's removed them in compositing or do they simply not show up in the photos for lack of exposure? I'm guessing the latter as some of the linked photos are also star-free. But watching the footage, that seems like the one thing that strikes the eye as weird. (Not that my eye knows what it looks like to fly through space [other than as envisioned by various sci-fi films])
posted by D at 11:56 AM on March 15, 2011


It's so strange to me that actual photographs from space probes, like these, always have that sharper-than-sharp look that is usually associated with computer generated images. I understand that when you send a spacecraft all the way to another planet, your priority would be detailed information rather than cinematic awesomeness, but on a purely personal level, they leave me a little cold. I wish it was possible to include a "vacation photo" camera along with the other instruments to capture more images like the Earthrise from Apollo 8.
posted by the jam at 12:00 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the lack of stars comes from the same effect as how it's more difficult to see stars during a full moon. The brightness of the reflecting object overwhelms the ability to see the much fainter stars in the background. Multiply that by Saturn's giantness, and probably no stars at all would be visible.

Or so, I would believe. It's not like I have any more experience in space travel than you do. :)
posted by hippybear at 12:00 PM on March 15, 2011


This is just... woah.

The film will be presented in IMAX quality 5.6K resolution on massive screens and concert-level surround systems with a synchronized light show to audiences in planetariums, museums, galleries and limited IMAX release.

I need to find out who to start bothering about bringing this to my city.
posted by alynnk at 12:00 PM on March 15, 2011


If you look at photos taken on the Moon, among others, you almost never see stars. And it is because to properly expose objects that are reflecting Sun light, the stars never show up because of how much dimmer they are, even at the distance of Saturn. I did quickly find a picture Cassini took that shows stars, since it was taking a photo of the dark side of a moon to show some clouds of dust (maybe): Chorus of Jets.
posted by skynxnex at 12:01 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a question: are the stars noticeably brighter outside the atmosphere?
posted by jedicus at 12:02 PM on March 15, 2011


You cannot take a photo of something directly reflecting the sun and expect to see pinpoints of light, orders of magnitude dimmer than the sun, that are emitted by things hundreds of lightyears away.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:07 PM on March 15, 2011


It's so strange to me that actual photographs from space probes, like these, always have that sharper-than-sharp look that is usually associated with computer generated images. I understand that when you send a spacecraft all the way to another planet, your priority would be detailed information rather than cinematic awesomeness, but on a purely personal level, they leave me a little cold. I wish it was possible to include a "vacation photo" camera along with the other instruments to capture more images like the Earthrise from Apollo 8.

Luckily the new generation of probes are all going to outfitted with the Hipstamatic app.
posted by theodolite at 12:11 PM on March 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Facilities management is going to be getting a phone call in a little bit and they're going to be like "You need a new office chair why?" and I'll be like "Well, either that or just a really good upholstery cleaner, now stop asking questions and get over here."
posted by Wolfdog at 12:24 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


That sharpness is a result of the fact that focus is always at infinity, everything is far away, and there is no atmosphere to diffract light.
posted by Nothing at 12:46 PM on March 15, 2011


1:32 - That's no moon.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:07 PM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


If the probes send back enough frames to make a movie...why don't they just send back a movie?

To paraphrase Mr. Rumsfeld: You don't go to space with the technology you want, you go to space with the technology your father had.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:07 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the real footage looks fake... Hollywoodland has been lying to us!

It's like when they have to paint horses to look like cows because cows don't look like cows on film.
posted by D at 1:19 PM on March 15, 2011


Fuck me that's awesome.
posted by notsnot at 1:23 PM on March 15, 2011


1:32 - That's no moon.

It's Mimas! Which is notable not only for its uncanny impression of the Death Star but also its Pac-Man-shaped surface temperature, making it the Solar System's nerdiest moon.
posted by theodolite at 1:24 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


That is absolutely breathtaking.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:37 PM on March 15, 2011


This is just wonderful.
posted by -t at 2:18 PM on March 15, 2011


We meed about 30-40 more of these probes whizzing through our system and then the awesome dial will be up to 15.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:20 PM on March 15, 2011


The Death Star moon looks like PacMan? Now someone is just screwing with us.
posted by DU at 2:34 PM on March 15, 2011


That was completely great. I am so glad to be living in the future when I see stuff like this. THANKS!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 3:43 PM on March 15, 2011


I was wondering why the soundtrack was the notoriously sad adagio for strings but then it busted into arman van buuren's trance version.
posted by markvalli at 3:54 PM on March 15, 2011


Holy cow! Excellent post!
posted by puddinghead at 6:31 PM on March 15, 2011


Beautiful - very moving.
posted by jasper411 at 7:03 PM on March 15, 2011


If the probes send back enough frames to make a movie...why don't they just send back a movie?

Because what you are seeing is actually time-lapse! The data rate from Cassini is around 140-160 Kbps, which is the true limiting factor here. Those image are anywhere from several seconds to more than a minute apart. It would be totally impractical to even bothering to store two images much less several frames just to attempt to compress them. Instead they are transmitted as soon as possible.

You can checkout a sequence of image data here.
posted by litghost at 7:51 PM on March 15, 2011


Not to burst some of your expectations here, but I doubt a lot of this is from image sequences. I couldn't shake the "fake" feeling as I was watching it (sorry I do a lot of post processing at my job...), but also the weirdly similar appearance of the rings once you are "close" as compared to far away, which I don't think actually happens. Anyways basic searching reveals this video where the technique is explained. I don't want to diminish this accomplishment, but in the "fake" 3d vs "real" 2.75d debate for flythroughs I'm not sure I would come down on the same side that this guy did, but nevertheless more power to him for creating something huge I guess.
posted by tmthyrss at 8:15 PM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I couldn't shake the "fake" feeling as I was watching it (sorry I do a lot of post processing at my job...), but also the weirdly similar appearance of the rings once you are "close" as compared to far away, which I don't think actually happens.

Seconding tmthyrss. I was also bothered by how the rings looked like they were grooves in a record regardless of how close the "flyby" got to it. The modeling method used here appears to be more successful at depicting the planets and the moons than the myriad rings around Saturn.

</nitpick>

Then again, perhaps the full film will delve further into how the rings are comprised, how shepherd moons keep some of the ring particles in place while also creating the gaps in the rings, etc.
posted by stannate at 8:22 PM on March 15, 2011


Then again, perhaps the full film will delve further into how the rings are comprised, how shepherd moons keep some of the ring particles in place while also creating the gaps in the rings, etc.

Hard to tell what the final film will actually be, but the impression I got is that it's a continuous fly-through of the solar system done entirely using interpolated frames based on photos taken by probes.

I dont think it's going to quite be the episode of Nova that you're hoping for.
posted by hippybear at 7:30 AM on March 16, 2011


Now I want to see The Kid Stays in the Picture, which uses the 2.5d effect which Outside In apparently exploits.
posted by swift at 9:23 AM on March 16, 2011


the "fake" 3d vs "real" 2.75d debate for flythroughs I'm not sure I would come down on the same side that this guy did

Yeah, it seems a pretty blurry line. I wonder how many frames are being interpolated between the real ones. If it's a low number, it seems valid as a technique. Otherwise it seems rather close to 3D modeling but with photographs as textures.
posted by smackfu at 2:55 PM on March 16, 2011


Seasonal Methane Rain Discovered on Titan
posted by homunculus at 1:17 PM on March 17, 2011


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