Despite what some artists render, and no matter how hard I wish it, Earth doesn’t have rings. Saturn is the king of the solar system, at least in terms if kick-ass aesthetics, and the new In Saturn’s Ring trailer only cements that notion.
Scientists know that Saturn’s rings are comprised of a bunch of stuff — rock, dust, ice from passing comets, material pulled from its moons or jarred loose from its moons by meteorite impacts, and all those recyclables you dumped into the trash a few years ago when you thought no one was looking. Okay, maybe not that last one, but the rings basically pull in debris like one of those tape rollers you use to make your pants look halfway clean. Some of the stuff in the rings is tiny and sand like, while other chunks are taller than buildings and can be a kilometer across. The rings behave strangely too — they orbit Saturn at different speeds.
But there’s a lot we still don’t know, and a lot we’re finding out via NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which is currently exploring Saturn and cataloging all kinds of discoveries. In about two weeks, it will take a picture of Earth from its position there.
Soon we’ll have a lot more to look at when contemplating Saturn’s majesty. In Saturn’s Rings, directed by Stephen van Vuuren, who grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa and who has shot, produced, and/or directed over 20 films, including experimental and animated ones. Some of them can be seen on his Vimeo site. In 2000 he founded SV2 Studios, an indie production and post-production studio that also does digital mastering.
Like so many of us, van Vuuren grew up a huge fan of Carl Sagan, who often wrote about Saturn and its moons. Van Vuuren also remembers the disappointing lack of fanfare that accompanied Cassini’s 2004 mission to Saturn, and since then has dreamed of working on a project to boost public interest in the planet.
It’s working. I’m now more convinced of Saturn’s awesomeness than ever. And I’ve only seen the trailer. The movie is pretty much the ultimate porn for cosmophiles.
In Saturn’s Rings, a not-for-profit project, is the result of van Vuuren’s processing of images of Saturn collected over the years by the Cassini-Huygens mission and dozens of other sources. He developed the process by which he turns photos into film himself — it’s not quite animation, but rather a fluid stitching of images designed to “use large screen imagery, synchronized to powerful but moving music, to create an experience for those who see it, hear it and feel it.” Mission accomplished.
The film will be released for IMAX at 6K resolution in early 2014, when Saturn will undoubtedly become the big-screen star it was always meant to be.