“A picture is worth a thousand words“, goes the well worn phrase. So, in the case of Outside In, how many words is hundreds of thousand of pictures? The decision to use only real photographs for creating this film was an invention born of necessity. The first idea for “Outside In” was born in the early hours of the morning, July 1st, 2004 when the Cassini-Huygens Mission arrived at Saturn.
Ignored by broadcast television networks, the arrival was only live on NASA TV’s web stream. As I saw the first raw photographs come down, I was blown away by their sublime beauty. “If only we had a film or video camera their – then people would really get excited.” was the first thought that went through my mind.
But all we have is still photographs. Thousands of incredible photographs…like the many photos from the Apollo lunar missions, the photographs are both proof of we’re we’ve been and a way to try to capture the jaw-dropping beauty of the Universe. But unlike Apollo, no astronauts took the pictures, no humans have ever been to Saturn. That’s probably why the media largely ignored this incredible mission and many of us feel little connection to robotic missions that explore these distant worlds.
But it occurred to me one day – we have these real photographs taken by cameras on spacecraft built and operated by humans. If we could somehow feel that we were the astronauts, that we took this journey into space and came home with these photographs, perhaps we would feel a much deeper connection to the incredible exploration of our Universe.
That began a long obsession – many long day and nights – trying to figure out a way to create moving pictures from real photographs. My first attempts were failures and even my first success was only a high-definition, black and white 15 second clip. But after many long months spread out over 3 years, plagued by computer software limitations and the need to compile huge amounts of image data, I finally succeeded and released the first 1 minute of footage in full color, at 5600 x 4200 pixel resolution in May of 2010.
In March 2011, that clip went viral and the decision to use real photographs paid off in way I never anticipated. Since then I have received stacks of messages by people touched by the footage, profoundly affected because what they see is created directly with real photographs and they too can feel that we are taking these incredible journeys of discovery.