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April 03
2018

ISSUE

Spring 2018

2001: A Space Odyssey – The Jupiter Machine

A final result, including Jupiter’s distinctive red spot.

 

It’s now 50 years since the release of Stanley Kubrick’s landmark sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, which represented several landmark achievements in visual effects. One of those achievements includes the methods that Special Photographic Effects Supervisor Douglas Trumbull, VES – one of four credited on the 1968 film – devised to realize shots of the planet Jupiter.

For that, Trumbull conceived of ‘The Jupiter Machine,’ a take on the slit-scan technique also used in the film for the famous stargate sequence. The Jupiter incarnation involved a device made up of a revolving disc ball with a thin, white slit onto which two projectors – also revolving around the ball – projected flat Jupiter artwork repre- senting the north and south hemispheres of the planet. The various mechanics and gears of the Machine and lengthy exposure times produced a final realistic result of a revolving gaseous planet.

The machine in operation. Importantly, the exposures were acquired in a completely darkened room in which only the projected slits of the painted artwork were visible to the camera.

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