Cosm Studios is Proud to Partner With Baobab Studios

Cosm Studios is Proud to Partner With Baobab Studios

Cosm Studios partners with Baobab Studios to bring NAMOO to planetarium and fulldome theaters globally

Cosm Studios announced it will enter an exclusive agreement with Baobab Studios to distribute Erick Oh’s acclaimed animated short, Namoo, to planetariums and fulldome theaters around the world. Baobab Studios has created a 360 fulldome experience adapted from the VR version of Namoo for Cosm.

NAMOO is a narrative poem brought to life through hand-crafted animation. Inspired by the passing of the director’s grandfather, NAMOO – which translates to “tree” in Korean – follows the beautiful and heartbreaking moments of a man’s life, from beginning to end. It was written and directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Erick Oh (OPERA) and marks his most personal and ambitious work to date. The film was produced by nine-time Emmy Award-winning Baobab Studios, executive produced by John Cho and produced by Larry Cutler, Eric Darnell, Maureen Fan, and Kane Lee. The film was named one of the 15 shortlisted films by the Academy, was nominated for two Annie Awards, was named Best Animated Short from the 2022 Gold List Awards, and was nominated for a Producers Guild of America (PGA) Innovation Award. The theatrical version of the short has been acquired by Warner 150 and is now streaming on HBO Max, and the VR experience is currently available on Meta Quest.

“Baobab is one of the most respected animation studios in our industry,” said Neil Carty, Head of Cosm Studios. “These creative content producers are known for their immersive storytelling and diverse characters. We look forward to our collaboration as we bring Namoo out of the headset and into planetariums and fulldome theaters where audiences will have an opportunity to experience the film together in 360 for the first time.”

“The vision Baobab shares with Cosm to uniquely transform Namoo for planetariums and domes around the entire globe marries our love of both the theatrical and immersive collective viewing experiences in the most awe-inspiring way we can imagine as filmmakers,” said Kane Lee, Baobab Studios’ Head of Content. “We couldn’t be more excited to kick off our collaboration with Cosm than with a project that at its core not only embraces art and innovation, but the full human experience.”

About Baobab Studios
Founded by Maureen Fan, Eric Darnell, and Larry Cutler in 2015, nine-time Emmy® Award-winning Baobab Studios is the world’s leading independent interactive animation studio. With a mission to inspire you to dream and bring out your sense of wonder by making you matter, Baobab Studios has released eight projects to date — INVASION!; ASTEROIDS!; JACK CROW: THE LEGEND; BONFIRE; BABA YAGA; PAPER BIRDS; and NAMOO — all to critical acclaim and commercial success. Named Fast Company’s 2018 Most Innovative Company, its awarding winning works (traditional, VR, and AR) have been viewed millions of times and have starred such diverse talents as John Legend, Oprah, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Hudson, Glenn Close, Daisy Ridley, Constance Wu, Diego Luna, Liza Koshy, Tye Sheridan, Elizabeth Banks, Ethan Hawke, Lupita Nyong’o, Ali Wong and Edward Norton. The studio’s IP is currently being adapted into books (MacMillan, Penguin Random House), film (Roth/Kirsch, Disney), original series with the premium streamers, and games. Recently the studio announced a deal with Disney+ to develop an animated anthology series called THE WITCHVERSE, based on the Emmy-winning VR short film, BABA YAGA.

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"NAMOO" on Cosm Experience Center dome
"NAMOO" on Cosm Experience Center dome
"NAMOO" poster

A Small Solve For a Big Production Challenge

A Small Solve For a Big Production Challenge

The old adage that “necessity is the mother of invention” has rung true this past year due to the coronavirus pandemic, as thousands of planetariums and science institutions have scrambled to redefine how they present to their audiences. Unable to use their domes, planetarians have turned to Zoom, social media, and kitchen green screens to tell their stories.

But what happens if the story you want to tell is at the South Pole?

This was the question facing Robin Sip, Evans & Sutherland’s Director of Show Production & Content. His latest production, Black Hole: First Picture, explores the telescopes and observations of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) network.

In 2017 and 2018, the nine telescopes of the EHT network simultaneously observed the black hole at the center of the elliptical galaxy Messier 87 in the Virgo constellation. The data resulted in the first direct image of a black hole and the region of space around it, and the picture serves as the inspiration for the film.

After visiting most of the EHT network telescopes during production, Sip’s team faced an important visual conundrum: with travel in 2020 brought to a standstill due to the pandemic, how best to showcase one of the EHT’s most impressive observatories.

The South Pole Telescope, built 9,200 feet above sea level at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, would be nearly impossible to get to even without a global pandemic due to cost and production limitations. Perhaps a computer-generated version of the SPT would suffice.

But then again, this is Robin Sip we’re talking about.

An immersive and fulldome content producer for more than two decades, Sip has played an important role in raising the production value and narrative depth of planetarium films. The recipient of the International Planetarium Society’s prestigious Technology and Innovation Award, Sip has pioneered advances in both computer-generated and live-action production techniques, and films like Natural Selection and Mars 1001 have been acclaimed by audiences and colleagues alike.

So when given a choice between computer-generated visuals and practical effects to complete Black Hole: First Picture, Sip’s team set out to create a first-of-its-kind physical prop. Over the course of six months, Sip’s team created a 10:1 scale model of the South Pole Telescope at their studio in the Hague. Three large 3D printers consumed more than fifty liters of resin to produce the physical set that would allow Sip to create the cinematography envisioned for the film. As Sip wryly commented, “it was either a stroke of genius, or a stroke.”

The “miniature” set is still more than 25 feet in length and required extensive painting, assembly, and weathering to precisely match the look and feel of the real South Pole Telescope. Built in a full green-screen studio, Sip and his team can produce camera shots of the Telescope that would be unsafe – or impossible – at the South Pole.

Originally intended for release in 2020, Black Hole: First Picture is now scheduled to premiere in late 2021.

Cover of Planetarian magazine featuring Black Hole First Picture
E&S effects technician works on a scale model of the South Pole Telescope for the fulldome show Black Hole First Picture
E&S effects technicians work on a scale model of the South Pole Telescope for the fulldome show Black Hole First Picture
Robin Sip, Donna Cox receive IPS recognition

Robin Sip, Donna Cox receive IPS recognition

Congratulations to Evans & Sutherland Director of Show Production & Content Robin Sip, who today received the International Planetarium Society Technology & Innovation Award 2020 for his innovative use of fulldome film as a creative medium!

Also receiving the award this year was frequent Spitz Creative Media collaborator Donna Cox, Director of the Advanced Visualization Lab at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. AVL’s breathtaking data visualizations feature prominently in several Spitz Creative Media productions, including Birth of Planet Earth, Solar Superstorms, and the forthcoming Atlas of a Changing Earth.

Photos of Robin Sip and Donna Cox