Linnehan: I’d love to be one of the first to go to Mars. I’d be first in line, even if it was a one-way trip, I’d sign up. And I know there’re a lot of people like that out there – the Mars One Project and otherwise. And I think that it will take that kind of passion and interest to make that happen.
David Livingston: So you would sign up for a one way trip?
Linnehan: Oh yeah, no question. -I’m not saying the one way trip would end right away but I mean people at some point are going to have to colonize. And you know, the first people up there aren’t probably coming back. So, you know, if you want – if you want to be in on the early race so to speak – and be the people who go up there and try to make something of a colony, you’re gonna be up there probably for your duration.
David Livingston: It would be quite an adventure to say the least.
“Proof-of-concept for a project which relies heavily on space visuals to demonstrate compelling footage can be created quickly and easily by mining the impressive public access image libraries of NASA (and others) for stunning photography, and then bringing them to life with simple 3d ‘tricks’. The final project, which is being produced by Two Story Productions (twostoryproductions.com/), will air on BC’s Knowledge Network (knowledge.ca)”
1. Saturn’s Polar Hexagon
If you’ve never heard of Saturn’s polar hexagon before, check this out. It’s mind-blowing.
Most of the shots of Saturn and its moons were accomplished in the same manner, by simply projecting high-resolution Cassini photographs onto spheres, and then navigating around those spheres with a virtual camera. Most of the shots are one image + one sphere = really simple stuff. For a shot of the polar hexagon, however, I worked in additional elements to bring the scene to life.
I started with this photograph of Saturn’s south pole, and projected the image onto a sphere. Then I found a timelapse sequence of images taken by the Cassini space probe from directly above the polar hexagon, showing the enormous vortex swirling slowly over a period of several hours. The sequence was comprised of eight individual frames, shown below: Twixtor was used to stretch these eight short frames into a seamlessly smooth 240-frame long animation, which was then layered onto my 3d model of Saturn.
(The camera icons you see below are actually projectors: the left-hand one is projecting an image of saturn onto a sphere. An angled plane behind the sphere is ‘catching’ Saturn’s rings. The camera pointing down is projecting the polar hexagon onto the same sphere. The resulting image can be seen to the right.) Once it was lined up with the photography, the animated polar hexagon element was then blended into the rest of the shot: To create this lovely final composition (complete with animated weather systems!): 2. Tycho
For a shot of the mountain in the centre of Tycho Crater, a slightly more detailed approach was needed. In this case, the source photograph was projected onto a low-resolution 3d model of the landscape in Maya.
The model didn’t have to be too detailed, just enough so that a virtual camera could slowly move around the peak:
Other scenes required a more detailed sculpting of features, such as this flyover shot of the surface of Iapetus. working from this beautiful image of the moon’s icy surface, I sculpted out ridges and craters in Mudbox and staged the scene in Maya.
One of the happy side-effects of working off real photographs is that the 3d model inherits the light and shadows of the photograph being projected onto it, so there is no need to worry about placing lights in your scene.
Hopefully, as Space Suite is further developed, I’ll be able to show off more beautiful shots!
Gwynne: “We’re working on the vehicles – some of the architectures for the vehicles right now – we should have some big engines on stands in a couple of years and hopefully we’ll land some folks in thirteen, fifteen years.” We’re talking ordinary people? Gwynne: “Explorers. But more ordinary than current astronauts, that’s for sure. Lot’s of engineers.” Engineers with an interest in space but who maybe didn’t train to be an astronaut. Gwynne: “Well you know once you land on Mars space isn’t that important – now you’ve got a planet, you’ve to make it livable, um, one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard Elon say was that Mars was a fixer upper planet. Um. There’s a lot of work to do, there’s no atmosphere, ah, you’re going to hafta mine the water. […] I’m a mechanical engineer I don’t know how to build atmospheres, but, ah, I’m willing to look into it. Um, so, we have to build atmosphere, we have to figure out how to protect humans from radiation. […] It seems really a shame that the human species – that humans – that we’re done. That Earth is it. And I’m not saying that there aren’t things to explore and learn here. I think we can learn much more about our physical selves, or mental selves. We can learn more about um, life in the oceans. But, seems like you gotta find a new boundary to go take over, and pass, pass through. So there’s that piece: humans are – kinda the philosophical, humans are – we’re differentiated because we want to explore and learn new things. Um, and the other thing that’s fundamental it’s risk management. Something will happen, on Earth, to cause, a calamity. Now is it in two years? Probably not. Is it in a hundred years? Maybe not. But certainly within the next millennium, ah, something will happen and I think it’s really important for humans to have an alternative. -Now that’s the crazy talk by the way – that’s when you lose people at the restaurant, they’re not paying attention, they’re like, ‘Ooo don’t give her another chardonnay. She’s done.'”
In Saturn’s Rings is a ground-breaking film for IMAX® and Giant Screen Theaters and Fulldome Planetariums created from over one millionreal photographs and assembled in one man’s basement studio. Using a unique photoanimation technique, the film will take audiences on a journey through the Solar System and beyond, employing images from dozens of space missions, including Cassini-Huygens, Hubble, Apollo, Voyager 1/2 and many more; and give audiences the feeling they’re flying through space without the use of computer generated models or imagery.
Kai Ryssdal: These guys have checklists – I mean they are engineers, so, they think like “this”…does that impede you as you get them to think, listen, we need to figure out a way to…ah…make this rocket forty seven pounds lighter?
Gwynne: Actually engineers are incredibly creative people. I mean that’s what engineering is.
Kai Ryssdal: There you go. That’ll show me.
Gwynne: We have a house full of engineers, how awesome. I don’t feel like I’ve ever had to push my team to think of bigger and better things – that’s kinda what they do naturally. Engineers are driven to do things better. Really to the point of being annoying a lot of times actually.
Kai Ryssdal: [giggles]: I’m not hearing a lot of applause for that by the way.