In Saturn’s Rings: A 4K Film Made Entirely from Real NASA Photographs

The tagline for the 2014 IMAX movie In Saturn’s Rings simply states: “This is Real.” And it’s a tagline that bears repeating to yourself over and over again as you watch the preview footage above.

A fly-through put together from over one million real photographs — many taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft — the movie promises to contain zero CGI. And above, we have the first teaser for the film, available in 4K as long as your monitor can handle it.

The movie is being put together as a non-profit projet by creator Stephen van Vuuren, and we showed you the first glimpse at what he was working on all the way back in May of 2011. Now it’s more than two years later, and the final film has a teaser trailer and a tentative release date of Spring, 2014.

An example of the kinds of images van Vuuren has to work with from Cassini

An example of the kinds of images van Vuuren has to work with from Cassini

As it says on the film’s website: “This is not visual effects or CGI. This is not ‘based on’ scientific data. This IS the actual scientific data. Over one million photographs from space, from history, processed, stitched and animated to full motion. This is real.”

To learn more about In Saturn’s Rings, the photos that it is being made from and much more, head over to the film’s website by following this link.

(via Laughing Squid)

Image credits: Photograph by NASA

  • Neo Racer

    or you could just download ‘the space engine’ and do it yourself;)

  • Vallo

    Im not sure about that full-lenght film thing. ~2 hours watching giant balls from different angles?

  • David_Evans

    The Earth is a giant ball. Does it bore you?

  • derek

    maybe you can learn something

  • Myamar_SL

    Where did you learn that it would be 2 hours?

  • Alex Dobrescu

    Impressive work!
    trailer edited with iMovie :)

  • SDsc0rch

    err.. what is this guys definition of “no cgi/vfx” — there’s plenty of “artistic license” in view here….

  • Goofball Jones

    “Over one million photographs from space, from history, processed, stitched and animated to full motion.”

    Um…someone should let this guy know that that IS a form of CGI. Unless he took actual paper-based photographs, lit them, positioned a 4K camera above it and animated them by hand…frame by frame….then this is CGI. Animating something with a computer, even a “real” photo, is still computer animation. He’s splitting hairs.

  • beautox

    No, you’re the one splitting hairs. Most people understand the difference between photos and CGI

  • Vallo

    View from here is good actually, always changing.

  • RE Casper

    Looking forward to this. Always love a good romp through the galaxy. Kinda like ants getting to see an areal view of the jungle.

  • Gman

    Preview is enough for me, don’t need to see the full thing. Aint nobody got time for that.

  • Mak Wa

    Any footage that has been changed or manipulated after the original (photo or video) footage was shot will have to have been done in post production, therefore it is a visual effect. Obviously many of the shots where animated by separating the various objects in each photo such as the planets, moons, backgrounds etc (using something like Photoshop) then manipulating/animating the objects in a visual effects program such as Adobe After Effect. Even adding a “text” title to the footage is considered a visual effect.

    Here’s wiki’s definition:
    Visual effects (commonly shortened to Visual FX or VFX) are the various processes by which imagery is created and/or manipulated outside the context of a live action shot.

  • Arian Rassoul

    calling something real does’nt make it instant real, there was plenty of animation used in this one (no shadow movements). as for me, trailer is already enough. nicely done though

  • Chris

    Don’t get too hung up on the marketing-speak. “No CGI” isn’t the same thing as “no processing”. It may be “based on” scientific data, but it’s been “processed, stitched, and animated” so it’s no longer “actual scientific data”.

    Case in point, ESA and NASA scientists aren’t sending 4K images back from Saturn. The monochrome CCD sensor on Cassini has a 1024×1024 resolution that records light passed by one of several dozen filters ranging from infrared to ultraviolet. The scientists don’t care about aesthetics or artistic intent – they choose whatever framing, exposure, filters, in-camera processing and compression it takes to transmit as much data as possible through its 365 kilobits-per-second radio connection while maintaining its scientific, not aesthetic, integrity.

    The brilliant thing is that all of the data from space probes, rovers, and space telescopes are free and open to anyone more interested in the aesthetics of space exploration than the science. The 4K IMAX is an artistic interpretation of the images captured by Cassini at Saturn and other observatories looking at other things in space using whatever processing it took to create the “print”.

  • Arimus

    My math isn’t great but:

    1,000,000 photos divided by let’s say 60 frames per second = 16,666 seconds.
    16,666 seconds divided by 60 (amount of seconds in a minute) = 277 minutes.
    277 minutes divided by 60 (amount of minutes in an hour) = 4.6 hours.
    Even if they decided to use 120 frames per second which is ludicrously high they would still have enough for 2.3 hours of film. It is only a 45 minute length film. No CGI you say? I say you’re dumb.
    This is going to be awesome.

  • Arimus

    I mean’t “It has to have CGI/VFX you say?” instead of no CGI :PPP
    My sarcasm got confused ok?