The Greatest Wonders of the Universe

Release Date: 3/1/2001. Expired: 6/30/2001

The Greatest Wonders of the Universe can be found at The Renaissance Center in the CyberSphere Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Journey through our solar system and into the farthest reaches of space. See beautiful nebulae, enormous star clusters, and witness the awesome power of a black hole.

“Greatest Wonders is a show that I am very proud of,” stated Kevin Scott, director of digital theatre productions. “Ninety percent of the visual graphics and animation for this exciting and educational program were developed by Renaissance Center staff. The project began in January, 2001 and the show opened March 1. The work that went into putting the show together could easily have taken three to four months if it wasn’t for the incredible cooperation among all the various artists and technical experts in The Renaissance Center.”

The result is a brand new planetarium show that utilizes original artwork in acrylics and some 30 minutes of original animation designed using AfterEffects, Maya and 3D Studio Max software. The paintings were done by faculty members John Kohlburn and Curtis Southerland. They provided scenes of the cloud tops of Jupiter, the surface of Triton (a moon of Neptune,) a desert mirage and a winter lake scene. Wei-Herng Lee generated some 20 minutes of beautiful animation showcasing many of our universe’s greatest wonders.

Dr. William Gutsch was contracted to write the script and he commissioned Jeri Ryan, who portrays Seven of Nine of the famed Star Trek Voyager series, to narrate. Mark Mercury developed the music soundtrack. These soundtracks are the only parts of the show that were contracted out. All of the visual effects were produced in-house. NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute donated various images and data sets used to create the stunning visuals. In some cases, raw NASA data was transformed into never-before-seen visualizations of various planets and moons in our Solar System.

“We needed the animated images to be as scientifically accurate as possible,” continues Scott. “Sometimes reality is a whole lot more amazing than anything you can dream up.”

Also assisting in the animation effects were Terry Wilson and Ronald Stinson. Multimedia’s Ken Tucker helped with editing. Bill Jones, the center’s assistant chief A/V engineer, assisted with video encoding. Our CyberSphere Intern, Matt Romine, assisted with the digital image preparation and slide programming.

“We are very excited to be providing a planetarium show of this caliber to the community,” Scott continued. “What should have taken several months to complete only took us a couple of months and that is a phenomenal accomplishment.”

There were Seven Great Wonders of the ancient world and now The Renaissance Center presents a modern day list to viewers. See Greatest Wonders of the Universe every Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturdays 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 adults, $3 children under 13. For more information, call The Renaissance Center at (615)740-5600.