Movie makers use Cassini-Huygens data to create realistic view from the surface of Saturn's largest moon in 'Last Call for Titan'

​At SXSW 2018, Blanche Guichou, Producer for AGAT Films & Cie, talks about why they created a realistic simulation of the surface of Saturn's moon Titan for the documentary film, "Last Call for Titan."

'Last Call for Titan' movie offers realistic simulation of what astronauts would see on Titan's surface

At SXSW 2018, Blanche Guichou, Producer for AGAT Films & Cie, talked to TechRepublic's Teena Maddox about how and why they created a realistic simulation of the surface of Saturn's moon Titan for the documentary film, "Last Call for Titan." The following is a transcript of the interview.

"I like to produce scientific film because I am not a scientist myself, and I like that the science film explain me the world.

"I have the project with Jonathan Tavel, who's a scientist, to explain what the first men who arrive on another planet, or another moon in the case of Titan, will see. So it would have been very easy to reconstruct absolutely 3D environment by using our imagination. But what we wanted to do in that film is to show the reality.

SEE: Augmented reality gaining more traction than virtual reality in the enterprise (Tech Pro Research)

"So, we knew that Cassini-Huygens probe collect a lot of scientific data on Titan, which is the main moon of Saturn, and we wanted to use this. But not in an imaginative way, in a realistic visualization of that. So we tried to find somebody who was able to help us, and it was OPTIS who with Vincent [Vincent Hourdin, PhD and Research Engineer for OPTIS] we reconstruct to interpret and analyze the data, to give us the tool to reconstruct image that can be seen by classical and common viewers to present the arriving on Titan.

"What can I say more on this? For me as a producer, it's really easy to do image ... false image, fake image. But on that very, very specific project what is really impressive for us it's to have the real, real visualization, and I think it's the first time it has been made like that, from scientific data to TV image.

"My main goal on that film is that I wanted the viewer see exactly the same thing that the first human being pioneer, so first astronaut, will be able to see when he would arrive on Titan. So of course, we recreate a very basic place, because we reconstruct a place to live, we reconstruct a jeep or rover, we reconstruct a place to work, because the first human who will arrive on Titan will be a scientist, and would be in charge of constructing a place to live for the next human coming to the moon.

"So, I wanted that the viewer on my documentary was ... Sorry, I want the viewer of the documentary able to feel what the first man on Titan would feel. Not what he feel, but what he see. And I think it's really important to show that it's not a very big space place. It's a small unity, and a small place to live in to work and to try to spread out on that planet. I know that it's a really important point for a lot of people now, is what human will be able to set up to live somewhere if one day our planet was not able to sustain us. And so, I don't know if it will be on Titan, I don't know if it will be very soon or in a very long time, but I think we gave a quite realistic way of thinking about that with that documentary.

SEE: Exomedicine arrives: How labs in space could pave the way for healthcare breakthroughs on Earth (TechRepublic cover story) | download the PDF version

"The real challenge on that documentary was to have two people who usually don't work together, to work together. The artist team, the post-production team and production in Paris. The director Frédéric Ramade. The scientist who wrote the documentary ... And also, France 5, the French public channel dedicated to knowledge. NHK, also a public channel, Japanese public channel who was a partner is it adventure. I think that all of us, we wanted to have a real collaboration and real exchange within people who usually don't work together and I think that's one of the real successes of the film and that's why people like it so much. On French channel it was twice the audience, the usual against that slot and on NHK too. So, people have really been touched by the scientific aspects, but also with the emotional and the human aspects that the film describe."

Also see

Last Call for Titan
© Agat Films & Cie - NHK - Optis 2017

By Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a former Associate Managing Editor at TechRepublic. She oversees TechRepublic's news team and TechRepublic Premium. She focuses on tech and business and how the two worlds intersect. Teena's lifelong journalism career has included wri...