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Amazing NASA Earth Visual Chosen for Computer Graphics Conference

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NASA is synonymous with space flight and research; however, the space agency is quickly becoming well-known for something else, computer visualization.

An excerpt from NASA’s Dynamic Earth: Exploring Earth’s Climate Engine film has been chosen by SIGGRAPH (also known as the Association for Computer Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques) to showcase at their 2012 conference coming up in August.

SIGGRAPH is well-known in the field of computer graphics. The organization has been around since the mid-1970s and is best known for its annual conference that focuses on computer graphics and interactive techniques.

The conference consists of corporate booths to entice employees and students, a forum for published research papers in the field of computer graphics, and the presentation of a variety of computer generated films.

To present a film or paper at SIGGRAPH is considered to be an honor. Presenters of past conferences consisted of organizations such as LucasFilm Computer Group and Pixar. In a press release, Joshua Grow, SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival Chair, Los Angeles, stated, “Major Hollywood studios submit pieces, so there is a high standard. Clearly NASA has exceeded that standard with their submission.”

NASA Scientific Visualization

The film that exceeded Hollywood standards was a joint production of NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS), Spitz Creative Media, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and Thomas Lucas Productions.

It was this collaborative effort that created Dynamic Earth: Exploring Earth’s Climate Engine, a 24-minute film that takes a close look at our planet’s climate system.

One of the collaborators on the project, Spitz Creative Media, says that the film “follows a trail of energy that flows from the Sun into the interlocking systems that shape our climate.” However, the excerpt of the film that will be shown at the SIGGRAPH conference is named Coronal Mass Ejection and Ocean/Wind Circulation.

The 4-minute short depicts a Coronal Mass Ejection slamming into Venus. It then goes on to explain how Earth is protected from such cosmic events. The second half of the film shows how the Earth describes how wind and ocean currents play a significant role in our climate. The submitted short can be viewed in on NASA’s website (1).

The entire film, Dynamic Earth, is traveling around the country and is currently being shown at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum along with several other schools and museums throughout the country. However, producers plan on taking the film worldwide.

According to Horace Mitchell of NASA’s SVS, the film is currently in the process of being translated into Spanish, Arabic, Turkish and Greek.

nasa graphics

NASA Film at SIGGRAPH Conference

The 4-minute film will be shown during the annual SIGGRAPH conference slated for August 5-9, 2012.

Along with the NASA film, the SIGGRAPH organizers have a series of presentations and speakers lined up, such as award ceremonies and their Birds of a Feather events. These events are very informal and allow individuals in the computer graphics field to come together and discuss shared interests in the field.

This year’s keynote speaker is Jane McGonigal, Chief Creative Officer, SuperBetter Labs and the author of Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How they Can Change the World (2).

For decades, there have been debates about science versus art; their similarities along with their differences. How one is just as important as the other or more important.

However, in the field of computer graphics that line has become blurred. Science and art are equal partners and it seems that NASA has used that partnership to further the understanding of the universe.

References & Image Credits:
(2) SIGGRAPH Conference

Originally published on

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