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Movie on a sphere

A nine-minute movie on rain just might take movie-making and watching to the next level. How? You need a sphere to watch it

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has commissioned a nine-minute movie called Water Falls, about a project that is set to look at the importance of fresh water to life on Earth. The project is the largest Earth observing research mission ever mounted by anyone, but the interesting bit about the whole project is yet to come. The movie will be beamed only on a spherical screen. Michael Starobin, producer and director of Water Falls, talks about why watching movies on a spherical screen may be the next cool thing.


The premiere of Water Falls

What is the movie Water Falls all about?
Water Falls is about the importance of fresh water to life on Earth. Ninety seven per cent of water on Earth is salt water. Of the water that’s left, two-thirds are trapped in polar ice, and thus unavailable. That means that only one per cent of Earth is useable for anything else that generally requires fresh water, from agriculture, to medicine, to bathing. Precipitation is largely responsible for distributing and circulating fresh water on Earth. To understand this process, NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency are readying the Global Precipitation Measurement and NASA commissioned a movie about the project.

Was shooting this movie any different from a regular movie?
Spheres throw much of convention out the window. With an effectively seamless ‘frame’, there is no left and right to an image. Sets are constructed in odd geometries; animations are developed in unusual ways; careful post-production techniques helps put images into the proper configuration. Storyboarding and script development tries to develop a story that can be seen from anywhere in the room, even if everyone in the room might be seeing precisely the same image at the same time.

Does this have the potential to change the movie watching experience?
To be honest, I do not think spheres are ‘the next big thing”. But I do think they are “a new, cool thing’. They are extremely modern. Watching a movie like this is a profoundly different experience than watching a conventional movie or television screen.

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