Editor’s note: Does Benedict Cumberbatch have an affinity for volcanoes? He not only is the villain of Star Trek Into Darkness, but also the narrator of Supervolcanoes. Two very different films – but volcanoes figure heavily in each.
Spitz Creative Media, Mirage3D and Thomas Lucas Productions announced the release of Supervolcanoes, a new 24-minute documentary created for digital dome cinema (fulldome) exhibition in planetariums, museums and educational institutions. The show explores rare and extremely devastating volcanic phenomena, and portrays them with imagery that is dramatic and scientifically accurate. Audiences experience vivid recreations of cataclysmic past eruptions, while diving into a supervolcano now gathering force below Yellowstone National Park. Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Hobbit, Star Trek Into Darkness), Supervolcanoes world-premiered in September 2012 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) and is now available for general release.
Supervolcanoes is already in demand for bookings and is currently playing in more than a dozen locations worldwide. “We’re trying to raise the bar for fulldome production,” says co-producer Mike Bruno of Spitz Creative Media. “So we collaborate with the best partners possible. Our titles are tested with scientists as well as audiences, and exhibitors trust our brand. As a blend of earth science, space science and life science, Supervolcanoes cuts across a number of important disciplines and ties into current educational standards.
Solid science journalism
Supervolcanoes examines the largest volcanoes on Earth as well as on Triton and Io, moons of Neptune and Jupiter. “It doesn’t just focus on volcanoes as a process of earth science,” explains director Thomas Lucas. “It views the planet holistically as part of the larger universe. It engages audiences emotionally and intellectually in a story about life, earth and space science all at once. This is solid science journalism.” Supervolcanoes is Lucas’ third production in collaboration with Spitz Creative Media.Supervolcanoes illustrates how eruptions occur and explores how likely another eruption is to occur soon, based on data collected from scientific observations. The show features visualizations with higher resolution and detail than most Hollywood films. It is designed to be as engaging to watch as it is scientifically accurate, with a compelling story arc and high production values, blending live photography and computer animation. Being produced specifically for the dome and incorporating live-action sequences by pano-photography specialist xRez Studios, Supervolcanoes optimizes the immersive and educational power of fulldome digital cinema. “The live-action scenes we shot in Yellowstone have been some of the most popular with audiences,” says Lucas.
Click here to view the Supervolcanoes Trailer.
Magical Media Teaching Environment
“Fulldome provides a uniquely immersive educational setting,” says Dan Neafus, Operations Manager at the Gates Planetarium at DMNS, which launched Supervolcanoes in September 2012. “We felt it was time to really utilize the planetarium as a truly magical media teaching environment.”Supervolcanoes was vetted by both DMNS scientists and audiences before its premiere at the Gates, where its run was timed to coincide with the museum’s traveling exhibit “A Day in Pompeii” (Oct 2012-Jan 2013). The museum took advantage of the film’s broad appeal to work with new educators and scientists and engage more schools and groups than in the past. “The exhibition tie-in along with the show featuring both space and earth science content opened up our theater to a wider audience,” says Neafus.
Blockbusters of digital dome cinema
“Supervolcanoes is the latest addition to an expanding library of strong science titles for fulldome, and we’re very pleased to be part of this project as both co-producer and co-distributor,” says Robin Sip of Mirage3D. Mirage3D is well known in the planetarium and fulldome communities as a provider of unique, top-quality science documentaries. “It was a fabulous creative challenge,” adds Sip. “We are quite happy with the result.”
Supervolcanoes joins prior, successful Spitz/Thomas Lucas/DMNS collaborations including Dynamic Earth: Exploring Earth’s Climate Engine and Black Holes: the Other Side of Infinity. Worldwide, Black Holes has had 150+ planetarium bookings since its 2007 release, and since its May 2012 release, Dynamic Earth has had 50+ bookings. “In our industry, that is blockbuster status,” says Mike Bruno of Spitz Creative Media.
Supervolcanoes was presented to the industry in February 2013 at the IMERSA Fulldome Summit, and will be featured at the Jena Fulldome Festival (May 29-June 1) at the Jena-Zeiss Planetarium in Germany – and at other fulldome and immersive cinema festivals this year.
Supervolcanoes is distributed by Spitz Creative Media, Mirage3D and Evans & Sutherland.