This winter, nanotechnology will be coming to an IMAX theater near you. A 40-minute movie, 'Molecules to the MAX,' will start its career on giant screens. This movie has very peculiar characteristics. First, it has been produced at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) by the director of the university's nanotechnology center. A RPI news release tells us how a professor-turned-producer has discovered the movie business. At least, you can be sure that the screen appearances of the Oxy, Hydro, Hydra and other molecules will be scientifically accurate. And this new movie has used lots of computer time as it took 50 hours to render a frame in the high-definition IMAX format. With 24 frames per second, this represents almost 3 million hours of computer time -- more that 300 years. Fortunately, RPI has lots of computing power, but read more...
This movie has been produced by Richard Siegel, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Director of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC) for Directed Assembly of Nanostructures at Rensselaer. You can see above Siegel showing a poster of 'Molecules to the MAX.' "The IMAX film 'Molecules to the MAX' has been a three-year labor of love for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor Richard Siegel. From securing funding and hiring a production company to negotiating post-production and distribution deals, Siegel has been a champion and a driving force behind the newest Molecularium movie. His enthusiasm and vision have touched nearly every aspect of the 40-minute film, which is set to be previewed for the first time this week." (Credit: Rensselaer/Daria Robbins) Here is a link to a larger version of this photo.
The movie has been produced by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in conjunction with Nanotoon Entertainment. It will be distributed by SK Films, a company based in Toronto, Canada, which is dedicated to produce and distribute films for IMAX and other Giant Screen theaters.
When will we be able to see this film? "A more rigorous test will show itself this winter, when the completed film version of 'Molecules to the MAX' debuts, and Siegel's objective shifts from creating a memorable, entertaining, and engaging film based on scientifically accurate molecular modeling and simulations, to marketing the film and filling IMAX and other giant-screen theaters with eager moviegoers. Siegel is intrigued to see how 'Molecules to the MAX' will fare not only against Hollywood blockbusters, but also against the growing cadre of sharks, dinosaurs, insects, historic sites, and heavenly bodies that have become the bread and butter of the giant-screen movie industry. Though Siegel concedes that 'Molecules to the MAX' may not be on a trajectory to become the next 'Star Wars' or 'Finding Nemo,' he is confident that the new film is poised for considerable long-term success -- both in the entertainment world, and in fulfilling the project's paramount goal of boosting global science literacy."
Siegel is one of the participants to the Molecularium Project, which released a first movie, 'Riding Snowflakes,' in early 2005. "This 23-minute digital show, created specifically to be shown in planetarium domes, is still in distribution worldwide and is currently in the process of being translated into several different languages."
And as I wrote above, this kind of movie requires lots of computing power. "When watching either movie, it's easy for viewers to overlook the fact that they're witnessing some of the largest and most complex scientific computations ever conducted. The background animations of atoms and molecules in 'Riding Snowflakes' and 'Molecules to the MAX' are derived from accurate, state-of-the-art theoretical molecular modeling simulations created in Garde’s laboratory. Creating this hidden camera into the nanoscale universe required simulations massive in both scale and complexity. For the new movie, it took five computer-processing hours to render a single frame in normal resolution and 50 hours to render a frame in the high-definition IMAX format."
If you find this post after viewing 'Molecules to the MAX' this coming winter, please drop me a note to tell me if you enjoyed the movie -- or not.
Sources: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute news release, September 9, 2008; and various websites
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