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Posts tagged as space

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

“Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” the reboot of the classic science TV series helmed by Carl Sagan that aired in 1980, should be required viewing for all of us.

In “Cosmos,” artful visual effects and elegant motion design inform and delight in equal parts. Animation is as essential to the success of “Cosmos” as the lovable hosting talents of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

All-Star Team

With executive producer Seth MacFarlane behind the show and a 13-week run on Fox and National Geographic, the creators of “Cosmos” are going toe-to-toe with primetime. The premiere launched opposite AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and ABC’s heavily promoted “Resurrection” and still managed to rake in an impressive 8.5 million viewers.

Brannon Braga, co-executive producer and director, is no stranger to space drama. He co-wrote “Star Trek: First Contact” and executive produced all of the Star Trek series after the original.

Co-directing from behind the camera is DP Bill Pope, best known as the cinematographer for “The Matrix.”

Then there’s Rainer Gombos, visual effects supervisor of “Game of Thrones” fame. VFX shots themselves have been handled by a who’s who of facilities including Framestore, BUF, Tippett Studio, Atomic Fiction and Montreal’s Mokko Studio.

Not too shabby.

The Title Sequence

The title sequence (seen above) is as thoughtful and jaw-dropping as the show itself.

Created by BBDG (Shaun Collings and Cutis Doss), the opener oscillates between the cosmic and the microscopic, the tangible and the ethereal. Like the show, the sequence uses the power of metaphor to draw parallels between the mysterious grandeur of the universe and the grand reality of our everyday lives.

Character Animation

The animated sequences produced by Kara Vallow (with whom MacFarlane has a long working relationship) and Six Point Harness are an alternative take on the live-action based historic segments from the original “Cosmos.”

In an interview with Geekosystem, Vallow explains the reasoning behind using animation:

Seth [MacFarlane] thought that [using live action for the historic segments] was going to be prohibitive in this incarnation of the series, because viewers are much more sophisticated now than they were then in terms of historical time periods being recreated by Hollywood. We’re attuned to seeing big budget period movies and costumes and stuff, and in the original series they were done very low budget.

I don’t think they thought that viewers were going to accept that now, and they didn’t have the time to do a big budget Gosford Park type imagining of the narrative. So, it was Seth’s idea to do those in animation.

Watch it online

Full episodes of “Cosmos” can be viewed on the official site and on Hulu.

Watch the entire first episode after the jump →

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Haynes “Beans”

This mock commercial is just too much fun not to share. I only wish real clients had the guts (pun intended) to fund this kind of work.

Cinesite created this project as a showcase for their artists. With superb comedic timing, lushly rendered animation and brilliant creature work, I’d say it’s a slam dunk. The short was written and directed by Animator Alvise Avati and produced by Animation Director Eamonn Butler.

Cinesite on the look development:

The look of the lunar environment is based on NASA film footage and actual lunar photography. Eamonn says, “At the start, the film is quite serious in tone and then it develops, becoming more dramatic as it progresses before ending on a surprise. To support this, the environment needed to be photo-realistic. We also wanted to push the animation and effects as far as we could to make the film as dramatic as possible before the payoff.

Tip o’ the hat to Todd Akita.

Credits

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Nicolas Ménard: Somewhere


Director/Animator Nicolas Ménard brings us his new film: Somewhere.

With a unique style combined with the amazing music/sound design by Rich Vreeland, Somewhere takes us to a completely fresh universe of animation and storytelling.

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HALO 4: Forward Unto Dawn – Title Sequence + Q&A – Polynoid


In December of last year Halo 4 came out and the world rejoiced. Along with it came a web series called Forward Unto Dawn which was a live action VFX set that brought the Halo universe to life. It opened with 5 fantastic title sequences created by Polynoid a German Design/VFX house.

From the Press Release:

Polynoid’s microfilms illustrate the intense relationship between Cortana, an artificial intelligence entity and indispensable aide to Master Chief, the long-time hero of the Halo series. Set aboard a spacecraft, the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn, as it drifts towards imminent doom, Cortana must battle to awaken Master Chief from cryo-stasis before it’s too late.

“For us, Cortana was the centerpiece around which we spun our story,” said Polynoid’s Jan Bitzer. “When we started working out the scenes and shots, we did it under the premise that Cortana is the only ‘alive’ being we could play with.”

With elegantly framed shots, drifting cameras and gloomy lighting, Polynoid emphasized the soul-crushing loneliness aboard the nearly empty spacecraft. To effectively communicate the passing of time, Polynoid switched from the relative calm of zero-gravity to intense time-lapsed action.

“[The time lapse sequence] was technically the most challenging. We spent a lot of time tweaking it; always trying to improve every shot simultaneously to guarantee a consistent quality for the overall piece,” Bitzer noted.

Polynoid and Blacklist collaborated with 343 Industries every step of the way, carefully guarding production from the massive press surrounding “Halo 4.” “Polynoid are gamers, and this was a dream opportunity,” said Blacklist Executive Producer Adina Sales. “This project was a perfect fit for our team.  343 was looking for a sophisticated interpretation and they encouraged us to push the artistic lense.  Polynoid had a clear vision from the outset and we were determined to deliver in spades.  We’re very proud of the results.”

Here you can see a detailed making of that goes through their entire process from conception:

Don’t forget to check out their site page for the sequence for some stills and styleframes!

We dropped them a line to do a little Q&A with Polynoid’s Jan Bitzer and Fabian Pross.  Here’s a snippet but click ‘Full Interview’ to view the entire thing!

Fabian Pross on the FX:

We used Softimage ICE for almost all our effects work. The rampancy is actually not simulated, but a combination of procedural modeling and some keyframes.

Jan Bitzer on the Asset Development

343 Industries provided us with most of the CG assets which we had to bring together on an equal production level. Some elements where very high poly and had to be optimized, while others were simplified game assets and needed detail work.

 

Full Interview

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Alexis Beaumont & Rémi Godin: Stuck in the Sound “Let’s Go”

This one nearly slipped past our radar. Directed by Alexis Beaumont and Rémi Godin, this music video for Stuck in the Sound’s “Let’s Go” is a tragic odyssey that follows one very determined man as he pursues his childhood dream to be an astronaut. Normally, odysseys conclude with a triumphant voyage home. Not so in this case.

Don’t be fooled by the gritty, lo-fi aesthetic. There’s brilliance in Beaumont and Godin’s vision. The transitions, pacing and odd use of photographic elements provide regular bursts of novelty, keeping you engaged for the entire strange trip.

Beaumont and Godin previously worked together as animators on The Rabbi’s Cat, a feature film based on a popular comic strip in France.

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Classic Quickie: Time and Space


Motionographer Classic Quickie: orders of magnitude in time and space: Al Jarnow’s Cosmic Clock, Charles and Ray Eames’ Powers of Ten, and Bud Luckey’s That’s About the Size.

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Signal

Signal, a sci-fi movie about the formation of life and transformation of dead space into the living organic matter. By Maxim Zhestkov.

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