All photography provided by Mark Liston Bender, James McClean, & Xavier Jubier
The brain-child of Scott McIntosh, director of the High Atmospheric Research Center, the Eclipse 2017 MegaMovie looks to leverage potentially millions of citizen photographers and their "smart" phones to capture the solar eclipse in a unique and extraordinary new ways.
Is to enlist as many people as possible to help collect imagery of the eclipse totality. By utilizing their own "Smart Phones", these multitude spanning the nation can contribute to the effort to combine potentially millions of images filmed along the path of totality, to create a unique "movie" which will document the entire visual event as it crosses the USA. Additionally, using "Social" media features within the custom app, participants who "Cluster" within a certain range will also become "virtual" lens within a "Hive". The hive cameras will photograph the eclipse for "essentially" the same location and their cameras will simultaneously film totality at differing exposures. By photographing the eclipse at many exposures, the hive will contribute to single moments of observation with a much fuller dynamic range then possible with a single camera. The many images taken of any single moment will then be processed to create a single HDR frame for inclusion into the broader MegaMovie.
For additional information about the effort and team behind the Eclipse MegaMovie please use the link: https://eclipsemega.movie/
How will this experiment be Achieved
- A National campaign to enlist volunteers.
- August 2016 "Road Trip" to scout locations.
- Development of "custom" app to automate the photography.
- Testing the concept during the 2016 Indonesian Eclipse
- Assign participants to specific locations along the path of totality.
- Film the eclipse.
The Prototype "Smart Phone Rig" produced acceptable results. The rig seen here uses a "tracking mount" which allows the optics attached to the phone to follow (track) along with the sun therefore keeping the view in th center of the frame. When filming the sun closely, it will move quickly across the screen and actually move off the screen altogether after only a few minutes. In order to maximize the photography of totality a tracking mount is a very useful piece of additional equipment.
Tests in Indonesia produced 55 images that were a successful "proof of concept".
A complete view of the images collected with the iPhone during the Indonesian totality.
- Create online "training" course for participants
- Coordinate Industry "Partners" to provide equipment.
- Organize participants to cover entire eclipse totality path.
- Specify "proper" equipment.
- Define "Date" for participants to acquire required equipment.
- Begin "Beta" testing with "app" and Phones.
- Test final app using the full moon as a "stand in"
We were able to test the concept on an actually total solar eclipse in Indonesia at the last total eclipse before the 2017 USA event. With the support of SkyWatcher USA, who provided the team with three (3) of their fantastic "StarAdventure" tracking mount (pictured below), we were able to successfully capture 55 images of the eclipse during totality. Conditions at our location were hampered by difficult weather conditions, primarily clouds, but the results proved that the use of "Smart Phones" would produce useful data. For a more complete description of the expedition, please see our "projects" page.
The actual set up on the tiny Indonesian island of "Plun" also had a BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema camera attached and seen below the rig has already had the iPhone removed so that I could use it to photograph the rig. Due to severe restrictions on weight on the flight which was the initial leg of theexcursion to Plun, I was not able to take any other cameras.
While it will be very advantageous to use the SkyWatcher "StarAdventurer" tracking mount, which represents a significant financial investment, we are also developing the "MegaMovie app" to aid in farming the disk of the totality in a way to maximize the collection of as many images as possible using only a small and cheap "tripod". We are hoping that many will take advantage of the deal we are negotiating with SkyWatcher to purchase the StarAdventurer tracking mount at a significantly discounted price. See www.skywatcherusa.com for more information about the StarAdventurer mount as well as their other astronomy equipment.