I love SEPA. I love being there for the Welcome every conference because I love how everyone acts seeing each other for the first time in a year. It’s a very odd mixture of people that is at once diverse and unified. We all come from various locales with special, if not unique, talents; yet we all love the same things: technology, animation, astronomy, and nerd-speak! I love these people, and I love just having the opportunity to be around them. In fact, it’s what draws me back year after year. ‘Cause in the end though the conference revolves around the things that interests us, it is the chance to spend time with each other that makes it so special. I feel completely comfortable around the folks who attend these things, and I feel at ease to say whatever’s on my mind, even if only the geekiest nerds might follow… ’cause I know someone there will respond in kind.
SEPA started with a packed schedule right from the beginning. The program that first night lasted until 1:30am and I stayed for *almost* all of it. Morning was going to come early and there were some things on the schedule I didn’t want to miss. Other than meeting some new people (see last post) and catching up with some old friends (see future posts), there was one other cool thing that came out of that first day. I got to see what, at first exposure, might be the best planetarium show I’ve ever seen.
We Are Astronomers. I know, it’s a dumb name. (seriously guys, it’s a dumb name. I know it perfectly describes the content and purpose of the show, but really, you couldn’t think of anything a little more catchy? I mean, I like my packaging to describe fully what I’m going to buy when I’m in the store, but ‘M&Ms’ sounds tons cooler than ‘coated chocolate chips’. — right? Okay, there’s my beef. The rest of this reads really positive. And besides, I doubt I could come up with a better name, either.)
The show comes to us from our friends across the Big Pond, NSC Creative, and is full of incredibly unique and artistic visuals. Plus the audio is very well done. It’s basically about what astronomers do, why they do it, and what technology they use — so a moderately easy subject that has been done lots of times before. But the crux of this show is about how social networking has always played the biggest part in allowing the scientists to move forward. They start with word of mouth and books to spread the early discoveries amongst the masses, which in turn makes people very excited and interested in what astronomers are doing. Then, interest wanes. But it gets re-invigorated from time-to-time. Occasionally a new discovery is made that adjusts our view of the universe in a major way and the news spreads by whatever social network is popular at the time. People feel connected as a species and involved in the discoveries happening around then. The stars can unify us globally for scientific reasons, just as they have done for emotional reasons since humans walked the earth.
Today the information can be transferred almost as fast as it can be thought. This allows astronomers to connect in ways that grows the science exponentially. With new ideas being spread between researchers at such an astounding rate, hypotheses can rise and fall in a matter of months instead of decades. No wonder the general public has difficulty keeping up. (Okay, that last line was my own commentary — not the producers of the show.)
They also produced STARS for Adventure Science Center in Nashville. The audio was better for STARS, but the writing/scripting was far better for We Are Astronomers. They both, of course, had some awesome visuals. Here’s a preview:Vodpod videos no longer available.
The little 2-D guy in the beginning may look lame, but it was actually very cool and really drew me into the show right from the very beginning. I’m glad they reference that image for the logo.
As you could see in the preview, it’s narrated by David Tennant, whose voice I could listen to for three hours straight! So here’s a question for the team… did you write the show with his voice in mind or did he sign on after? I ask because my other favorite planetarium show, The Skywatchers, was written by Jim Manning with the voice of Charles Kuralt in mind. Because he knew whose voice would be saying his words he was able to write a script that sounded like the narrator was just having a conversation with you. And that’s why I never grew bored with it. Awesome.
Through the whole show I kept asking myself if I could have scripted anything this good. And I had to honestly say no, I don’t think so. I mean, I’d like to think there isn’t much in the planetarium world that I couldn’t do at least as well as the next guy, but this is one case in which I was blown away. If any of the creators ever read this… Really great show all around, guys!
[side note… the reason it has taken me so long to publish this and get my blog updated is because I had it all written once, and then I lost power and hadn’t saved. I was so ticked off that I was unmotivated to write for a while. Now that I’ve finally pushed through and gotten this out, I’ll throw down a bunch more posts rather quickly for you guys. Also, when I started writing this two weeks ago Vimeo actually had the entire show of We Are Astronomers streaming. Too bad I didn’t get this out before it got pulled.]