NCSA 30 | “Hubble 3D” includes NCSA visualizations
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“Hubble 3D” includes NCSA visualizations

“Hubble 3D” includes NCSA visualizations

“Hubble 3D” takes viewers through distant galaxies as it tells the story of the repair and upgrade of the Hubble telescope. While most of the film is shot with IMAX 3D cameras, including live-action footage from the space shuttle, nearly a quarter of the movie’s run time is devoted to NCSA Advanced Visualization Lab’s two dramatic voyages. Comprising nearly 10 minutes of the 43-minute film, the sequences use real Hubble, astronomical, and computational data in visualizations that make audiences feel they are on a space journey.

NCSA’s Advanced Visualization Laboratory used their dedicated visualization cluster and the center’s Abe supercomputer to develop and render the two scenes for the Hubble 3D project. The AVL cluster and the Abe supercomputer both use 64-bit Linux machines, with each machine having eight cores and 16 gigabytes of memory, comparable to a high-end PC or Mac such as a graphics designer might use.

The project required 28,000 PC machine-hours total, which is equal to one fast personal computer running for three years around the clock or 40 fast personal computers working for four weeks around the clock.

Computing just the final version of the two scenes, not counting pre-processing data and tests: 6,500 PC machine-hours (5,000 PC machine-hours for the voyage to the Orion Nebula, 1,500 PC machine-hours for the journey from the Milky Way to the cosmic web) is equal to one fast personal computer running nine months around the clock or 40 fast personal computers running for one week around the clock.

  • The two scenes of astrophysical visualizations created by the team at NCSA make up more than 20 percent of Hubble 3D (9 min. 18 sec. total)
  • Journey to Orion Nebula: 6,417 frames, 4 min. 27 sec.
  • Flight from Milky Way to cosmic web: 6,987 frames, 4 min. 51 sec.
  • Total 13,404 stereo image pairs at 5,616 x 4,096 resolution
  • 6.28 terabytes of high dynamic range (HDR) rendered image sequence and layers (135,030 stereo pairs), assembled into 2.24 terabytes of final images
  • 64 stereo computer graphics layers were composited for the two scenes (12 for Milky Way to cosmic web and 52 for journey to the Orion Nebula)

“Hubble 3D” ©2010 Warner Bros. Courtesy of Warner Bros. and IMAX Corporation

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