|| Cosmic Voyage, one of the first IMAX
films to use supercomputing simulations and the first IMAX film ever to
use four minutes of research-quality scientific visualization, has been
nominated for an Academy Award© in the Documentary (short subject)
category. The four-minute segment, which begins shortly after the big
bang, shows the expansion of the universe, the gravitational collapse of
structure and the formation of galaxies, and the collision of two spiral
Cosmic Voyage's supercomputer simulation visualizations were the result of a collaborative effort made within the scientific and film communities across the nation. Those involved in the project include scientific visualization (computer graphics) experts at NCSA and the University of Illinois, Grand Challenge Cosmology Consortium (GC3) scientists, two movie production companies. The film segments used numerous high-performance computers at multiple centers, including the San Diego Supercomputer Center. The film is a production of the Smithsonian Institute, Motorola Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and Cosmic Voyage Inc.
At the heart of the collaboration is Donna Cox, UIUC professor of art and design and principal investigator of NCSA's Renaissance Experimental Laboratory. Cox acted as the associate producer for scientific visualization for Cosmic Voyage and as art director for the four-minute simulation segment. "Cosmic Voyage has been a great collaboration among artists, scientists, and technologists. It tells a magnificent story about our place in the grand scale of the Universe," said Cox.
Erik Wesselak, a former NCSA programmer, wrote an interface between the simulation data and a custom particle renderer -- the Star Renderer -- developed by Pixar Senior Scientist Loren Carpenter. Also involved in the production of the simulations for the film were Mike Norman, NCSA research scientist, a member of the Smithsonian Scientific Advisory Board; Greg Bryan, NCSA post-doctoral student, who helped Pixar with the algorithms to represent the expansion of the universe; and Barry Sanders, NCSA, who managed over 100 gigabytes of data.
Oscars© will be awarded on March 24.