Making Of

How to Make it Rain on a Sphere

Capturing precipitation in video is not as easy as setting a waterproof camera out in the rain. It's easier to see raindrops striking a surface than it is to see raindrops falling through space. High speed camera systems may seem like easy solutions, but the complexity of lighting fast moving, tiny droplets while protecting delicate electronics in wet conditions can make for tough production environments.

Producer Michael Starobin sets up a special effects shot involving a water tank. Producer Michael Starobin sets up a special effects shot involving a water tank.
The Water Falls production team decided early on to focus on the essential, sensual aspects of precipitation rather than try to specifically capture rain falling through the atmosphere. In many scenes, live action droplets splashing onto various surfaces convey the essence of a wet world and snapshots of the endless water cycle. But footage of puddles and pools can only go so far. Elsewhere in the film, live action shots of ink splattered onto white or transparent backgrounds were blended into complex animation sequences, implying the physics of falling rain rather than clinically explaining the mechanics of it.
In a delicately balanced sequence, four principal components of the water cycle appear simultaneously, suggesting no beginning and no end to this essential, natural process. Water evaporates, water condenses, water precipitates, and water runs off--all at the same time on screen. On Science On a Sphere, audiences can gain an immediate, intuitive appreciation for one of Earth's most fundamental physical cycles even as the movie strives to present its content as artfully depicted watercolor paintings brought to life.