Monthly Archives: August 2005

Airlock

They’re filming on the Airlock set today. I really love this set a lot. Even though it’s the most basic, industrial-looking set, it gives one the feeling of being on a real spaceship more so than any of the other sets. There’s nothing there other than big doors with big handles and harsh, bright lights, but one feels like the vastness of space is only mere metres away.

We wanted to take our video cameras onto the set while they were filming, but because it’s such a small, cramped space, we were politely asked not to film.

We were determined to film that set…

Beyond Imagination

The visual effects department are already putting together various scenes (I showed you a little taster yesterday) and will continue working for many months after filming has finished. I’ve seen several different sequences, most of them are still pretty rough, all of them are seriously cool. I’m hoping that Tom will sneak me some more to show you soon.

I think one of the more tricky bits of animation will be when we get close to the Sun. The spaceship’s shield has a diameter of 1.449 kilometres (I just asked the visual effects guys to measure it exactly for me), but let’s say 1.5 kilometres. That’s massive by Earth standards, but quite frankly puny when out in space. How, exactly, do you represent the size of the Sun, which has a diameter over 100 times that of the Earth’s, when the spaceship gets near it?

Get out your tape measure.

OK, 1 metre represents the Sun’s diameter. 1 centimetre represents the Earth’s diameter… The Earth’s actual diameter is 12,756.3 kilometres. The spaceship’s, as I said, is 1.5 kilometres… try and imagine 1/8500th of a centimetre ( 1 x 12756 ÷ 1.5= 8504)… Actually, go look at this. I’ve made a blue image 8,504 pixels wide and right in the middle I put a little one pixel square dot of yellow. Try and find it. That’s how big the spaceship’s diameter is compared to the Earth’s.

Now in this one, the yellow bit is the sun, the blue bit is the Earth. Everyone you know and everyone you don’t know, all the people falling in love, all the babies being born, all the people dying, all the music, every painting, book and film fits onto that dot.

earth_suncomp_big

The Sun is awesome beyond imagination… and the animators are going to have to imagine it.

I’ve got hold of some of the videos they are using as reference…
Mercury transit 2003
Venus transit 2004
Close-ups of the Sun
All movies are from Swedish Institute for Solar Physics

Sunshine

From producer Andrew Macdonald:

Sunshine is a science fiction film set 50 years in the future. The entire story takes place on a spaceship traveling to the Sun.

As a British film producer sci-fi is the perfect genre. We are making the entire film indoors at a studio in East London. No worries about the weather.

The SPFX supervisor pointed out to me that many good sci-fi films have been made in the UK including ‘2001′, 3 out of 4 ‘Alien’ films, 4 out of 6 ‘Star Wars’ films. Maybe it’s because it rains a lot.

On the first day of filming it rained continuously, I hope this is a good omen.”

Filming Has Started

“Fifty years from now, the sun is dying, and mankind is dying with it. Our last hope: a spaceship and a crew of eight men and women. They carry a device which will breathe new life into the star. But deep into their voyage, out of radio contact with Earth, their mission is starting to unravel. There is an accident, a fatal mistake, and a distress beacon from a spaceship that disappeared seven years earlier. Soon the crew are fighting not only for their lives, but their sanity.”

Here we go…

Graphics

I’ve just been told that some of the graphics that have been made for the on-board computers have been changed from green to blue. I’ve got some copies of the old graphics for you to look at. You won’t be seeing these in the film. Apparently ‘green’ was too much like ‘The Matrix’.

Supernova School

Today, Dr. Brian Cox came in to talk to the actors about the Universe. He started out with the Carl Sagan-esque question ‘What are we made of?’, went on to speak about the elements and explained how Iron, atomic number 26, is the heaviest element which can be made in the heart of stars. Everything in you- the oxygen, the carbon, the iron which makes your blood red- was made in the heart of a star.

Any element that is heavier than Iron and lighter than Uranium- silver and gold, for example- can only be made in Supernovae, the violently explosive death of a star. He told them how a supernova shines as brightly as all the stars in the galaxy for several months then slowly fades, cools, and becomes a nebula which in turn gives birth to a new star…

Several supernova explosions have been seen over the years. One of the earliest on record is the Crab Nebula.


The ancient Chinese, Japanese and the Anasazi (the Ancient Puebloans) of America left records documenting their sighting of the star that died in a supernova explosion and created the Crab Nebula.

CrabNebula

Though it was 6000 light years away from Earth, when it exploded it shone in our sky as brightly as the crescent Moon.

Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion is about to die. It is a red supergiant which many astronomers believe will go supernova within the next 1,000 years. It could go tomorrow. Though Betelgeuse is only 15 times more massive than our Sun, it is as much as 40 million times greater in volume; that means if our Sun was a soccer ball, Betelgeuse would be Wembley Stadium in London. Betelgeuse is only 500 light years away from Earth. As a supernova shines as brightly as all the stars in the galaxy for several months after it explodes, when Betelgeuse goes, we will have two suns for a few months.

I think the actors’ minds were blown… let’s just hope there’s enough left for them to remember their lines.

See The Light

The first day of filming on the new Danny Boyle/Alex Garland film is a mere week away. Everyone is busy with the finishing touches on the sets, the costumes, the make-up and the graphics. For the past week, the actors have been in rehearsals and have had talks from biologists, astro-physicists and an astronaut. This week, along with another talk by a physicist, they will be doing some flight training where they will each get to fly a plane and experience Zero G. They’ve also been watching loads of sci-fi and space films, including ‘Alien’, ‘The Right Stuff’ and ‘For All Mankind’. By the time they start to film next week they will be regular space nuts.

Along with working on the website, I will be bringing you a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film including exclusive interviews, photos and video. We’re all going a bit space crazy here, so no doubt there will be quite a lot about the science behind the film as well. You will also be hearing directly from several of the people involved in the production… right now, however, they are working flat out getting ready to make what we’re hoping could be the sci-fi film we’ve all be waiting for since… ‘Alien’? ‘Silent Running’? ‘2001’?