Boldly Going…to Vegas!!

Hey Chasers!

This past November, we shot an awesome interview with Rod Roddenberry. During the interview he asked if we’d had ever been to the Las Vegas Star Trek convention. Truth is we never have.

Rod suggested we come down to experience the con (Khan) and we thought it would also be an incredible opportunity to meet with some of you to talk about the way that space / science fiction has influenced your life and given you a sense of belonging…on camera!

Trek Khan header

KHAAAAAAANvention!!

So if you’re going to be in Vegas for the convention, be sure to come find us. We’ll be the guys with a camera wandering around wearing a Chasing Atlantis tee shirts (or Trek shirts with a big camera) Furthermore you can tweet us at @chasingatlantis to let us know that you’re looking for us and we’ll hang out!

See you at the KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!

Keep Chasing

Matthew

Pluto Flyby and The Ultimate Message in a Bottle

At the time of writing this we  are less than 11 hours from the Pluto Flyby!

I missed out on the first images of the distant solar system. When I was old enough to fully realize my interest in space, we had already flown past of all the planets (all 8). Voyager 2 was the first to visit the outer gas (ice) giants Uranus and Neptune in the mid to late 1980’s. I was too young to appreciate what we had just accomplished. We brought planets into focus we’ve known about for decades and centuries but for the first time with detail, colour, textures, and data. These distant points of light pondered by astronomers for centuries were made very real as they clutched our own technology in their gravity.

Neptune Shot by Voyager 2 in 1989

Neptune Shot by Voyager 2 in 1989

While Pluto is no longer classified as a planet, knowing that this famous celestial body is about to be imaged at this distance for the first time has me so stoked. New Horizons has given me the opportunity to go back in time during the days of Voyager 2 to see what I missed and have my mind blown. Not only did Voyager 2 provide us with the clearest images of the most remote planets in our solar system, it reminded us that yes…this is where we are! We are in a system of planets and bodies orbiting this incredible ball of plasma called the Sun flying through space on an existential crisis asking what we’re all about and if there is anybody else out there also asking these questions and launching probes. Furthermore, we can blow everybody’s mind in real-time (ish as it takes about 4 hours for messages to get from Pluto plus lag time in bandwidth and processing) as everything that is transpiring over the next few hours will be online. It’s a good time to be taking photos of planets.

Pluto (right) and its moon Charon (left) shot by New Horizons  July 13th 2015

Pluto (right) and its moon Charon (left) shot by New Horizons July 13th 2015. For some reason I thought it would be blue

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Telling Stories in a Digital Age – The Game Narrative Toolbox with Ann Lemay

Hey Chasers,

An incredible privilege we’ve had in producing this film is interviewing a diverse array of individuals from space station commanders to science fiction writers. Each of them is a larger-than-life personality and has contributed something amazing to our film that has helped us tell our story. Outside of their participation in Chasing Atlantis, our interviewees are contributors in their own fields and it is important for us to keep tabs on them and promote their endeavours just as they have supported ours.

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To that end, we wanted to share a new work by one of our most influential interviewees, Ann Lemay, a writer at BioWare studios in Montréal. Ann worked on my favorite video game series of all time, Mass Effect, and is currently writing for the newly announced Mass Effect: Andromeda Ann’s discussion of narrative design for video game writing and science fiction really shaped the way that we are developing the narrative for our film. In her new work, a book she has co-authored entitled the “The Game Narrative Toolbox”, Ann explores the role a narrative designer plays on a development team to write video game player-centered stories, dialogue trees, and interactive vs cinematic segments of narrative. The book also includes exercises to hone your writing skills, as well as tips for applying for jobs within the industry or creating independent projects. If you ever thought of getting into the game industry as a story writer, this would be the place to start.

You can find both a digital and paperback of “The Game Narrative Toolbox” here

Below is a segment from our interview with Ann where she discusses the role of science-fiction in exploring our own sense of belonging in the universe; a theme which has become central in Chasing Atlantis.

Congratulations on the book release and on the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda, Ann!

Keep Chasing!

Matthew

 

Sailing on Sunlight: Planetary Society’s LightSail

Hey Chasers!

We are only a few hours away from a monumental experiment in space craft propulsion. Ever tried sailing on sunlight?

LightSail Image

                                             Sailing Sunlgiht! It’s like walking on sunshine…but different

The Planetary Society is going to be launching their solar sail space craft LightSail in a matter of hours. LightSail is designed to deploy 32 square meters of 4.2 micron thick sails once in space. The sails literally catch solar “wind”; charged particles emanating from the Sun that will push LightSail through space. (It’s kinda like the “Explorers” episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) Anyway, talk about green energy! (Or Yellow) What are the implications? Well according to the Planetary Society says

LightSail represents a major leap forward in the concept and technology of solar sailing. Through this program, we’re making it possible for other groups, including NASA, to utilize this innovative propulsion technique on CubeSats and other small spacecraft—opening the door to a huge variety of low-cost missions throughout the solar system.

As you might know, Bill Nye currently heads up the Planetary Society as CEO. We had the incredible opportunity to interview Bill during the production of Chasing Atlantis. You’ll get to see Bill talk more about space exploration once Chasing hits a film festival near you.

Bill Nye (Centre) With Chasing Atlantis Team Paul (Right) and Matthew (Left)

Bill Nye (Centre) With Chasing Atlantis Team Paul (Right) and Matthew (Left)

LightSail is currently running a Kickstarter Campaign that you can support for a chance at some amazing incentives ranging from LighSail merch, to cool gear like a Raspberry Pi rigged up to tell you when LightSail is travelling overhead, to lunch with Bill himself!

The main LightSail website can be found here where you can also watch the launch live at 10:45am EST today (May 20th). This launch will be a shakedown cruise to ensure LightSail survives orbital insertion and to test the sail deployment system. The test of the solar sails themselves will occur on the next launch scheduled for 2016.

Keep Chasing!

Matthew

Climate Change Graffiti, Earth Day, and an Observatory

“Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from the outside, is available, a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.”

– Sir Fred Hoyle, 1948

When we set out to shoot Chasing Atlantis, we thought our film would primarily focus on the legacy of the Space Shuttle. However, Paul first noted how frequently our journey turned introspective, examining space’s impact on my own life. For example, I hadn’t anticipated that a road trip to see the last shuttle launch would result in interviews with my grandfather and his repairing the old telescope we used to look at planets when I wasn’t much taller than the tripod.

Seeing myself reflected in our journey made me uncomfortable. This wasn’t supposed to be a film about my story. This was a film about space’s story. And that discomfort sat with me until I read a quote from Astronaut Jim Lovell of both Apollo 8 and 13: “We learned a lot about the Moon, but what we really learned about was the Earth…and how insignificant we really are, but then how fortunate we are to have this body and to be able to enjoy living here amongst the beauty of Earth itself.”

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It’s Yuri’s Night – The WORLD Space Party 2015!

“Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship I marvelled at the beauty of our planet.

People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty — not destroy it!”
— Yuri Gagarin, 1st human in space.

Yuri's Night Logo

Yuri’s Night Logo: The rest of Gagarin also went to space

Hey Chasers!

It’s Yuri’s Night! Today, April 12th marks the 54th anniversary of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s epic journey into space; the first time a human ever ventured across the threshold of Earth’s atmosphere into the Cosmos.

One of my fav bloggers/science evangelists/astronomers is Phil Plait AKA, the “Bad Astronomer” said that:

And so will Earth Day!

And so will Earth Day!

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The Dance of our Celestial Neighbours

Hey Chasers!

This past weekend we had front row seats to a conjunction of the Moon, Mars, and Venus; our three closest celestial neighbors.

One of the advantages of my day job working on campus at Simon Fraser University is having a roof access key to the residence dorm towers. It made for a great view of the conjunction especially as it approached the horizon. Here is a collection of some of my favorite shots from this past Friday and Saturday. By Saturday, the Moon had moved away from Mars and Venus in the sky, but it still made for a spectacular view. The shots were taken with 24mm, 50mm, and 300mm lenses on my DSLR. The last photo of the Moon and Mars was through my 80mm telescope at 600mm focal length also using my DSLR.

SPAAACE!

Moon at upper left with Mars and Venus in Centre over Vancouver Saturday Feb 21 2015

Moon at upper left with Mars and Venus in Centre over Vancouver Saturday Feb 21 2015

Moon, Mars, and Venus in order from highest to lowest against the Vancouver Skyline

Moon, Mars, and Venus in order from highest to lowest against the Vancouver Skyline

Fiery Crescent Moon Over Vancouver

Fiery Crescent Moon Over Vancouver

Moon and Venus over Vancouver

Moon and Venus over Vancouver

Crescent Moon with Mars as the faint point at upper left

Crescent Moon with Mars as the faint point at upper right

Epic Close to 2014! And Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Chasers!

The last few months have been absolutely amazing as we have headed into closing our primary videography for Chasing Atlantis. In October, we shot an amazing interview with Star Trek’s Rod Roddenberry, and more recently, through November and December, we “caught” Atlantis in her new home at the Kennedy Space Center as well as witnessed the historic launch of the Orion capsule.

Matt and Paul with Shuttle Atlantis in the Background

Matt and Paul with Shuttle Atlantis in the Background

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Happy Holidays From the Cosmos!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year, Chasers!!

A friend of mine sent this to me today and I wanted to share it with all of you! It is “Happy Holidays” written out by early galaxy formations! So Awesome. Below the image is a link that provides info on each of the galaxies as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey!

Wishing you and yours all the best this Holiday Season and an epic, adventurous, creative and Final Frontier breaking 2015!

-Matthew

Happy Holidays in the Cosmos

http://utprosim.com/happyholidays/

Chasing Orion!

Hey Chasers,

Just a quick update to let you know that we’re in Florida for the Orion Test Flight! The launch is set for 7AM EST today and we have press passes. We’ll be about 10KM from the launch site. This is even way closer than we were for the Atlantis lift off 3 years ago.

Orion Capsule

Orion Capsule

Orion’s flight is exciting for a few reasons both historical and personal. Historically, this launch represents the next steps on the path to bringing humanity further into the Solar system, perhaps even to Mars which is the current plan. But personally, it is huge that we were able to get press credentials for this launch. 3 years ago, when we started this journey, we had made little inroads yet with the space community here in Florida. We were just a group of travelers on a road trip to see a space shuttle. So much has happened since then and we’ve met so many people who have opened so many doors for us. And now, here we are on the eve/morning of this historic event with front row seats. One historic launch to another.

Be sure to tune in to the launch live! You can watch it here on NASA TV In fact, there is a live view of Orion on the launch pad right now. We’ll be there as well so if you’re around at the cape, be sure to Tweet me @chasingatlantis or @nobordfromorbit

Keep Chasing and Go Orion!!

-Matthew

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