Thursday, February 11, 2010

Making Black Holes with the DSC's Kevin Bindschadler

Photo Credit: Mike Wilkinson

Meet Kevin Bindschadler, the Detroit Science Center's Audio Visual Animation Coordinator. He's been with the DSC since November of 2009, and though he's worked on a lot of interesting projects so far, a large amount of his time recently has involved commanding particles to swirl ever inward toward the gaping darkness that is a black hole. In other words, when you see our brand new Dassault Systèmes Planetarium show Black Holes, he's the guy behind all those awe inspiring images of those regions of space from which nothing... nothing can escape. MyDSC talks to him about working on this exciting show.

MyDSC:
Describe your role in the Black Holes project.

Kevin:
I was charged with the responsibility of creating anything 3D graphics related for the adaptation of the original Clark Planetarium full dome show Black Holes for the Dassault Systèmes Planetarium. This included creating a vivid full dome image of fictional black holes and a themed spaceship bridge to frame the video content. It also entailed recreating several video animations to be integrated seamlessly with our Digistar projected stars such as the title sequence, a star's gas layers getting peeled off into the accretion disk of a black hole, and Earth's surface rotating out of darkness and into daylight just to name a few. In addition, I worked on various other animations for the two spaceship bridge side screens, such as data charts and supporting visuals, and even the launch of an Ares rocket. All these added visuals really enhance the original and help showcase the Black Holes show as an engaging, educational, and memorable experience.

MyDSC:
What is the definition of a black hole?

Kevin:
Basically a black hole is the extremely compact mass that you are left with after the gravitational collapse of a star of a certain mass that causes the characteristic spacetime curvature that not even light can escape.

MyDSC:
So how much did you personally know about black holes before working on this project? How much do you know now?

Kevin:
Before working on the Black Holes show I was familiar with only the black hole basics. They were dark spots out in space sucking things in that I should probably avoid. In order to recreate 3D black holes for various shot replacements in this show I ended up doing a fair amount of research on the mechanics of how black holes are formed, the visual elements that reveal their presence (accretion disks, relativistic jets, the event horizon etc.), and the various classifications of black hole types. One of the things I enjoy about working as a 3D artist is delving into the relevant subject matter for each project I am working on, learning as much as the production schedule allows, and then communicating that knowledge back to an audience in a visually engaging way.

MyDSC:
What part of the project are you the most proud of? What part do you think audiences will really enjoy/remember?

Kevin:
It's really hard for me to pick favorite shots. I think they all work together to create a very cohesive and powerful story about the mysterious and amazing black holes. Of course, audiences will probably really enjoy the extreme scenarios like taking a journey into a black hole but at the same time will really be taking with them a deeper understanding of one of the most perplexing entities in the universe.

MyDSC:
What are the chances that Earth will be sucked into a black hole?

Kevin:
The chances are not good at all - which of course is really good for us! Black holes affect a relatively small region of space around themselves and thankfully the Earth is nowhere near any black hole. While it can be an exciting what if scenario to think about, the reality is that we are safe here on Earth.

MyDSC:
Fill in the blank: People should really check out Black Holes in the Dassault Systèmes Planetarium because ____.

Kevin:
We can only really experience black holes though the power of our imaginations and no show helps us visualize them better than the Black Holes in the Dassault Systèmes Planetarium.

MyDSC:
Anything else you want to add?

Kevin:
Enjoy the show!

Black Holes opens at the Detroit Science Center's Dassault Systèmes Planetarium on Saturday February 13. Click here for more information and show times. Science Center admission includes Planetarium shows.

2 comments:

  1. Boy, this really makes me want to see this visually amazing and informative show!

    ReplyDelete