‘Finding Nano’, Molecules ‘Max’ Out at the Movies

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:08 am    Post subject: ‘Finding Nano’, Molecules ‘Max’ Out at the Movies Reply with quote

Promotional poster for "Molecules to the MAX," a new animated IMAX film from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Partially funded by the NSF, the film features background animations that are based on scientifically-accurate molecular modeling and simulation.
Credit: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

This winter, nanotechnology will be coming to an IMAX theatre near you. A 40-minute film, ‘Molecules to the MAX,' will start its career on giant screens: a film with odd but exceptional characteristics. First, it has been produced at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) by the director of the university's nanotechnology centre, and so it can guarantee that the screen appearances of the Oxy, Hydro, Hydra and other molecules will be scientifically accurate.

Next, the film 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. ‘Molecules to the MAX' has been a three-year labor of love for the Rensselaer professor, 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 40-minute film, which is set to be previewed for the first time this week.

Produced by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in conjunction with Nanotoon Entertainment, the production 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 theatres.

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 it and filling IMAX and other giant-screen theatres with eager cinema-goers. 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 in 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.

These films have taken up a great deal of computer time: 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 a lot of computing power. Viewers will witness 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 modelling simulations created.

Sources: http://blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/?p=1033
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