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In Saturn's Rings
July 2, 2013 5:13 PM   Subscribe

The first official trailer of In Saturn's Rings (formerly Outside In) has been released to universal acclaim. The movie (to be completed in 2014) is made exclusively from real photos taken by spacecraft, mostly Cassini-Huygens.
posted by hat_eater (24 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Rated R for extreme science.
posted by miyabo at 5:25 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


What IMAX was meant for.
posted by MysteriousMan at 5:33 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


uhhhh... could I get some CGI and VFX up in here, because this looks like bad animation out of the 70s, okay I get that it's high res and high frame rate but everything looks really dead. Why would it be bad to texwrap the imagery on realistic models? Why would it be bad to give the rings some science-based depth? I can't believe I'm saying this but it just looks so bad. I mean, yeah, it's pretty, but I think the "just real photographs" conceit is kind of not what I care about. Sure, show it on IMAX, but damn, do something that makes it look just a bit stronger than flying logos off a video toaster.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:35 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this the thread where I get to mention that I got a Christiaan Huygens question in Trivial Pursuit the other day and literally jumped out of my chair in excitement? Cause, that happened.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:38 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Outside In previously.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 5:39 PM on July 2, 2013


Why would it be bad to give the rings some science-based depth

The rings are in fact ridiculously flat. Like 10m thick (for something 15km wide). So I think that it's going to either look flat or be wrong.
posted by aubilenon at 5:40 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay, that's the rings then, no worries there.

My problem still is that when the camera position moves, solid shapes like planets don't alter their appearance due to parallax and perspective shifting. It really wrecks the illusion of flying through space if all of the objects just look like decal sprites in Doom just kind of floating around.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:47 PM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Outside In previously.

Thanks, sorry. "Outside in" was a hard title to search for on MetaFilter and then I figured that surely the name van Vuren would have been mentioned... and then I failed to mention him myself [kicks own shin].
posted by hat_eater at 6:02 PM on July 2, 2013


My youth was misspent reading bales of science fiction, and I definitely wept real tears watching this. I'd always assumed I'd emigrate to space one day, but it's clear that won't happen.
posted by monkihed at 6:12 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


> My problem still is that when the camera position moves, solid shapes like planets don't alter their appearance due to parallax and perspective shifting. It really wrecks the illusion of flying through space if all of the objects just look like decal sprites in Doom just kind of floating around.

I think what you're looking for is Star Wars or some other movie with warp effects and all the stuff to make you feel like you're flying through space. As it turns out, actually flying through space (as the Cassini probe did) doesn't look like the movies and might "wreck the illusion" that you're hoping for. On the other hand, I'm incredibly excited to see unaltered footage from the probe as it actually does fly through space, without any movie-magic corrections.

I'm not going to go into the theater expecting Star Tours. I'm expecting to go in and have a perspective-changing experience, as I see our Solar System as it really is in a way that is more immersive than I've ever felt before. If I knew that even the slightest artistic liberty were taken, it would totally ruin the entire thing for me.
posted by brenton at 6:17 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the rings are faithfully represented, including the transparency of regions like the inner C ring and the Cassini Division which they often get wrong in CGI. (The maximum thickness of the rings is 60 m, approximately, with bending waves up up to 200 m or so, but some regions may be a single layer of ring particles. Ring particles are, on average, about 2 cm in size, but they span a wide range, and the statistics on the particle size vary in different parts of the rings.)

The thing with Saturn's rings around the Earth where they show the sunlit side of the Earth and the dark side of the rings is weird. They aren't to scale, and they aren't equatorial, and and and... Obviously they weren't going for scientific accuracy there, but yet it bugs me.
posted by BrashTech at 6:18 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


My problem still is that when the camera position moves, solid shapes like planets don't alter their appearance due to parallax and perspective shifting

That's because they're gargantuan. And spherical. Also, you should reeeaally learn wtf you're talking about before trashing the flagship of the American World's space program on metafilter...you might get cut. (more than a couple of NASA/JPL scientists are members here) Once you launch your own multi-billion-dollar space probe to the outer solar system, maintain it for a decade, and land on Titan, then you can shoot your fool mouth off as much as you like.
I've been following the Cassini probe since before it launched, and have been checking out the raw images page since they started it...this really is just a teaser. (although, lol, the latest 500 images are pretty boring...hmm...some of those dots are streaks...what are they looking for?)...so glad someone finally composited them all into movies (keep in mind this was all shot with a ONE megapixel black-and-white camera (through color filters)...this represents a TON of compositing work)...I'm lining up for tickets now!
posted by sexyrobot at 6:20 PM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's hard to tell from the description how close this is to "raw footage" from the spacecraft. But I will say that the Cassini-Huygens wide-angle camera has a 3.5°, which is roughly equivalent to a 35mm SLR with a 700mm lens on it. Which means the probe was really quite far away from this stuff, which is a lot closer to an isometric projection than we ever see in the real world. This is why it looks artificial and lifeless - it looks like architectural renderings, not like photographs.
posted by aubilenon at 6:22 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh hell yes. I have never been to an IMAX theatre before, but this will get me there. The trailer had my space nerd side drooling.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:30 PM on July 2, 2013


On the other hand, I'm incredibly excited to see unaltered footage from the probe as it actually does fly through space, without any movie-magic corrections.

I would say that doing hand-tweaked image warping between still frames to produce a faked flythrough is squarely in the domain of 'movie-magic corrections'. I would not call it unaltered or even real footage.

Some of the shots even show a flythrough towards a whole galaxy, complete with stars whizzing by (the furthest we have sent anything is to the boundary of the solar system; we have not come close to sending a probe so far that it would see stars passing it). This goes completely beyond interpolation into straight-up special effects in my opinion.
posted by Pyry at 6:33 PM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am getting excited for this, but the music choice for the trailer was a little too . . . I don't know, epic science cliche or something?
posted by Think_Long at 6:43 PM on July 2, 2013


Dudes, chill. There are few bigger fans of the space program than I. Further, I make part of my living in imagery and image processing, both 2D and 3D. I know how volumetric objects look when one moves amongst them, not only from animating them myself, but from moving through 3D spacetime as a freefloating viewpoint, e.g. being a human being in a volumetric world. And real objects do not look like this when you fly among them.

I get the beauty, I get the spectacle, I get the majesty and splendour, and I also get that what I am being shown is right in the middle of my uncanny valley.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:45 PM on July 2, 2013


It's all moot - none of those pictures is what it would look like if we were there looking at the same scene, because who designs a scientific space imaging system to behave exactly like a Mk 1 eyeball? Once you go down that rabbit hole, the "THIS IS REAL" tagline doesn't hold up, even before you start doing the colour mapping and other manipulations that regularly happen on astro pictures intended for general consumption.

Would this film look 'better' if it had some more 3D tweakery, to make it look more 'real'? Probably. Does it matter? Certainly not. In any case, it's not as if graphics processing is getting more expensive or slower, nor as if the source material is going away.

I can only encourage seanmpuckett to crack on and realise his vision. For all mankind.
posted by Devonian at 7:47 PM on July 2, 2013


Yes, it's beautiful, and breathtaking, and the sort of thing I've been in love with since my very first field trip to the planetarium. But the claim of "no CGI/VFX" is, at best, pretty misleading.

The "flying toward" M104 is fake enough. But the very next shot shows the gibbous moon AND EARTH in front of a visible milky way. This is not situation where being in space makes a difference: when the moon is in your field of view, you just don't see nebulae and galaxies, including our own, because they're simply too flipping dim. And the Earth is a good dozen or so times more reflective than the moon.

If you came up with the film or electronic sensor with the contrast capability to capture that shot as a "real photograph" you'd be a very wealthy person. If you can see it with your own eyes, it's time to send in your application for the Justice League.

Look, it's been years since I was this excited about an IMAX film. I'll probably drive for hours just to see it at the "good" IMAX theater, and I fully expect the DVD case to end up just as worn as my copies of "Destiny in Space" and "The Dream is Alive" And yes, the fact that it's mostly "real" makes it more exciting than something like "Hidden Universe 3D," much more appealing to the kid who got to stay up late and sit in the museum to watch the first Voyager pictures arrive. But if they're going to market it so much based on what it's not, it really needs to not be that thing. And impossible images are still VFX no matter what FX toolkit you used to create them.
posted by CHoldredge at 8:23 PM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well I liked the contrast between the plain photography and the titles laden with dozens of Abramsesque blue lens flares.
posted by ceribus peribus at 8:36 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I get the beauty, I get the spectacle, I get the majesty and splendour, and I also get that what I am being shown is right in the middle of my uncanny valley.

Then don't buy a ticket, for christ's sake. I spend a good portion of my time panning around 3D engineering models and nothing in the video bothered me.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:41 PM on July 2, 2013


I know how volumetric objects look when one moves amongst them, not only from animating them myself, but from moving through 3D spacetime as a freefloating viewpoint, e.g. being a human being in a volumetric world.

I think I noticed the thing you're referring to, but I don't trust my intuitions about how things should look at this scale. We're definitely not used to moving around in this kind of environment. Those aren't basketballs and pingpong balls, they're vastly bigger and vastly farther away than they look.
posted by straight at 8:44 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I want to get totally stoned and watch this!
posted by Malice at 1:34 AM on July 3, 2013


IMAX films about real astronomy often have tacky soundtracks.
posted by ovvl at 9:08 PM on July 3, 2013


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