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Most Complex Photo Animation In History

I’m finalizing the layers and “camera POV” for the most complex animation of photographs in history (that I can find). The overall sequence will feature 5.1 million individual galaxy photographs from SDSS (mid-ground), 8.6 Terrapixels of distant galaxies (background) and 10 high resolution multiplane images of galaxies from Hubble and ESO sources. We split it up into 10 sections, once for each high resolution galaxies to make it possible even with the fastest desktop computers available.

First up is the most complex one – 1.2 million individual galaxies in the mid-ground, 700 megapixels (.7 gigapixels) of background data and 125 megapixel image of Arp273broken up into scientifically accurate mutiplanes. Read more here about multiplane and how it would have required camera and camera stands kilometers high to shoot with a real animation camera.

Despite running on a 4.1 Gigahertz overclock 12 core processor with 128GB of RAM and fast PCIe dedicated drive, it takes about 9 hours to initially open the project to see a visual. Then, if I reduce the resolution to 25%, it takes about 1 to 3 hours to move from frame to frame. So I’m forced to reduce resolution to 12.5 percent (only see 1 of 8 pixels in the image) so I can see new frames in roughly an 15 to 30 minutes and see crude playback (every 5th frame) overnight.

It’s by a massive margin, the most difficult work I’ve ever attempted to finalize this, but the result will be mind-blowing. For myself and Bill Eberly’s crack volunteers that have worked nearly 3 years on this, it’s deeply satisfying to be see it come to fruition.

We are still looking for volunteers to help render frames (final render takes 1 to 3 days a frame). See here for more.

Here’s what this looks like in Adobe After Effects spread over 3 monitors. After Effects allows us to exactly mimic having real photographs printed on glass on animation stand with a camera mounted vertically and moved framed by frame, exactly like Walt Disney started doing nearly 100 years ago.

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