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Outer limits: DynaTheater movie takes viewers from birth of the universe to Saturn’s rings

“Oceans World of Jupiter” is seen in the film “In Saturn’s Rings.” (Courtesy of SV2 Studios)

Most humans will never get a chance to go into space.

Through such films as “In Saturn’s Rings 2-D,” viewers get a chance to see the universe in a different way.

“The film uses real images that have been sent back from missions,” says Mike Pacheco, DynaTheater manager at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. “It starts off with the history of the universe and brings the viewer back to today’s missions.”

In fact, the film takes audiences on a journey of the mind, heart and spirit, from the big bang to the awe-inspiring rings of Saturn.

Access to over 7.5 million mostly unseen real images from the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, Hubble Space Telescope Milky Way time lapses, and more are brought to life in the film.

Pacheco says the earliest images after the big bang, to the final photographs Cassini took before plunging to its end in Saturn’s clouds are featured in the film.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is screening the film in the DynaTheater.

“The scope of the film is awesome,” Pacheco says. “Because the DynaTheater is a five-story screen, it gives you the feeling of how gigantic it is. We will never understand how big the galaxy is truly.”

According to the production notes, the film uses no computer-generated images. “Instead, the film painstakingly employs multiplane photo animation created entirely in Adobe After Effects with image processing by over 50 volunteers in Adobe Photoshop, GIMP and custom Java/ImageJ programming tools,” the release said.

The film is set to music composed and performed by Pieter Schlosser and “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber performed by the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dmitry Sitkovetsky.

It is narrated by LeVar Burton.

The film has an educator guide available for download at insaturnsrings.com/educator_guide.

The guide is most useful when used as a companion to the film, but it is also valuable as a resource on its own.

Teachers are encouraged to adapt activities included in this guide to meet the specific needs of the grades they teach and their students.

Pacheco says the film makes a great classroom field trip as it engages students on multiple levels – from the beauty of the universe to the uniqueness of Earth.

The guide offers hands-on lessons, experiments and observational activities designed to educate students about space exploration, environmental concerns on Earth, and digital photography.

“Because we are a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) museum, the film hits on all the aspects,” Pacheco says. “The animation technique also adds to the overall feel of the movie.”

The film runs 40 minutes and is shown three times daily at the museum.

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