Space Stuff

Along with a billion other ideas that have been rattling about in my head and that may never get made, an idea for a short scifi film keeps popping up again and again.

I’ve always liked science fiction but in the last few years I’ve really got into science fact which in most cases is much more awe inspiring and I’ve even started studying a degree course.  Probably means I’m officially obsessed.

Anyway, something that’s really been inspiring me is the BBC’s Wonders of the Universe which also features the Adagio in D Minor from Danny Boyle’s Sunshine (one of my favourite films).

I love this series – it’s not only an excellent documentary but the VFX are amazing and I’m sure I spotted a couple of Video Copilot lens flares in there ;0)

Anyway, having watched this so much it got me thinking about trying some of these sort of effects myself.   I also like the idea of including various real world astrological images such as Earth rise and Carl Sagan’s Pale blue dot.

The basic principle I have in mind would be following a spaceship leaving a dying Earth and travelling out into space in the hopes of finding another habitable planet.  Given the huge distances and thus travel times involved it would be a generational ship – it would be the initial astronauts grandchildren or great grandchildren that would eventually reach their destination, if they ever did.

As well as hopefully doing some cool space shots it also means I can scratch build some model spaceships a lá Star Wars which I’ve always wanted to do.  Although the models in Star Wars were shot using motion control rigs I think I can use motion tracking in Mocha to map backgrounds to the camera’s motion.  I just need to figure out a way to get some smooth camera panning shots.  You can buy rigs for that, but I think I can build a low-fi version using metal poles.  I think.

Anyway, because of this I’ve started having abit of an experiment in after effects to see how well I can pull off some nebula’s, planets and stars.  Here’re two short vids I’ve done in recent months.

One thing I have noticed is that you tend to lose a fair degree of detail once the vid’s on youtube.  That’s to be expected of course since they’re compressed, however particularly for space scenes I’ve found you lose details like background stars that are clearly visible in the full HD versions on my comp.

Since the primary way people will see any film I come up with will be online this is abit of a concern and it probably means I might to make such details more pronounced so they are more visible once they’re online.