SXSW: Astrophysics Goes Hollywood: Cinematic Science

Astronomical observatories like NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes reveal our universe as never before. The amazing visuals they capture and dynamic results from supercomputer simulations, are perfect for large displays. This panel will discuss the art and science of transforming astrophysics data into cinematic movie sequences for NASA press releases, digital planetariums, and IMAX films.


SXSW Panelists:
Frank Summers
Outreach Astrophysicist
Space Telescope Science Institute

Donna Cox
Dir, Advanced Visualization Laboratory
National Center for Supercomputing Applications

Robert Hurt
Visualization Scientist
NASA’s Spitzer Science Center/JPL-Caltech

Such projects require ‘Renaissance teams’, fostering a deep collaboration between creative and technical participants. A combination of astrophysics research codes, Hollywood graphics software, and powerful computers are required to go from photons to pixels to voxels to animation. From interpreting the true 3D structure of our own Milky Way to envisioning the titanic collision of two galaxies to creating the spectacular journey into the Orion Nebula in IMAX “Hubble”, each production is guided by both accuracy and aesthetics.

April 15, 2015