In Saturn’s Rings (Part II)

About five weeks ago, I posted a blog about the footage I shot for Stephen van Vuuren’s IMAX in a basement film In Saturn’s Ring’s presentation at the North Carolina’s Museum of Natural Science’s Astronomy Days event. After logging the footage, sitting on it, mulling it over and finally editing it, it’s been posted.

Here it is:

In Saturn’s Rings Promo from Ioannis "Yanni" Batsios on Vimeo.

In Saturn’s Rings (part I)

This past weekend, I spent my time documenting Stephen van Vuuren promoting his film In Saturn’s Rings (formerly known as Outside In) at Astronomy Days in Raleigh, North Carolina. For those that don’t know, In Saturn’s Rings is a film made by still photos from NASA space missions. It is being made specifically for IMAX theaters and dome theaters.

I have been a long time supporter of the film since he first told me about his idea in 2007. I have seen it transformed from many script revisions to what it is today. I’ve seen Stephen persevere through many pitfalls. I’ve seen the motherboard failures, hard drive failures and lightning storms fry computers. He’s also shown the patience to wait for new software to be developed and improved upon and for new photos to come in. I’ve also watched him develop new techniques to get his image on to the IMAX screen.

So to be there from the beginning and watch all the hard work pay off for a special weekend was nice. In Saturn’s Rings got a huge response at North Carolina’s Museum of Natural Science’s special event Astronomy Days. Both screenings were at standing room only capacity. On Sunday, we had to turn away as many as fifty people. The booth outside was visited by people of all races, ages, religions and genders. Everyone seems to love space exploration!

People lined up to see In Saturn's Rings.
People lined up to see In Saturn’s Rings.
People lined outside the booth.
People lined outside the booth.
Kids love it!
Kids love it!
Packed audience watching In Saturn's Rings
Packed audience watching In Saturn’s Rings

I did some interviews with fans after the screenings and what seems to get people excited the most is that these are real photographs and not CGI. All the images in the film will be actual images taken in space. Below is a short clip Stephen posted a year ago. If interested, please click the link above and check it out. He’s still looking for supporters and volunteers.

In Saturn’s Rings 5.6k Saturn Cassini Photographic Animation – Expanded, Improved from Stephen van Vuuren on Vimeo.

Later, I’ll be posting more footage and interviews from Astronomy Days.

New website.

Lately, I’ve focused my attention to building a new website. Somewhere I could host all of my interests on one page. The blog will stay here, because I like all the exposure I get with other WordPressians, but it will also be on my homepage.

Years ago, I found the perfect website Neon Sky. It has a clean look, easy to navigate, quick loading times and looks great on the iPad. But it’s too expensive for my budget. It runs around $600 a year and that’s just too much for me. I don’t get the amount of clients I need to afford the website.

Another site that I love, but is out of my price range is APhotoFolio. Again, it has all the great features of Neon Sky, including an app for the iPad, but it’s too expensive at a $1000 setup fee and $17 a month.

So a couple of weeks ago, I decided to just do WordPress and I built two different sites; one for my photography and one for my film-making. And I linked them all on my homepage (which is now defunct). And wouldn’t you know it, just a couple of days later I found the perfect site: Virb.

With a little tweaking, you can get Virb to look every bit as good as Neon Sky and APhotoFolio, but it only costs $10 a month. The only thing that isn’t as good with Virb is that your photos aren’t protected from downloading like they are with Neon Sky and APhotoFolio (the reality is if your work is out there, then it’s available to be stolen. I’ve watched Stephen van Vuuren create IMAX sized images from four mega-pixel NASA photos for his film in a basement movie Outside In, so anyone that knows how to screen grab can print their own artwork at any size they want). The best thing about Virb is the ease in which you can build pages. It’s far superior to WordPress, which is super easy itself, so that says a lot.

Anyways, this post is supposed to be more about me and not so much about Virb, but I love the site so I recommend checking it out. And check out mine as well. And if you could, buy something! It’s cheap, great art. Thanks.

I want to be Vincent Freeman

One of my favorite films of all time is the science fiction Gattaca. According to this movie, in the future our lives are preordained for us based on our genetics. One of the characters, Vincent (played by Ethan Hawke), battles against the assumption that we’re only as good as our DNA suggests. Over ninety plus minutes, Vincent evades detection, proves us otherwise and blah blah blah…..he’s victorious. Just as Vincent is achieving his goal of being on a mission to Saturn’s moon Titan, the movie ends. And that’s where my blog begins.

I think it would be amazing to travel into outer space. Unfortunately, I was born too soon as space exploration for the common man is out of the question. It seems like it’s right around the corner, but I doubt it will happen before I die. So my friend, Stephen van Vuuren, has decided to do the next best thing: make an IMAX film of space flight. And not a typical Star Trek CGI fake rendition, but the true to life deal. He’s using images taken directly from the Cassini-Huygens satellite and blowing them up and stringing them together to create the effect of fly through motion. If you’ve ever seen an IMAX film before, you know the best part about them is the feeling of actually being there. That’s why I think Stephen’s film, Outside In, will be amazing. I’ve actually had the pleasure of watching some of Stephen’s test footage on the IMAX and it’s breathtaking. Watch the teaser below:

Recently, Outside In, has caught fire online and now has over a million hits and has been boasted about on multiple blogs in many languages and news stations. I’m not sure if the excitement is about having an IMAX film that actually takes you through space or over the fact that Stephen is making this in his basement for about three hundred thousand dollars. Maybe it’s a mixture of both. Recently, I sat down with Stephen to talk a little about the process and how he came up with the idea to make an IMAX film. Below is the first video of a short series of videos with questions I plan on asking him about the process: