How Darren Aronofsky plans to engage audiences in the first production of MSG Sphere (exclusive)

How Darren Aronofsky plans to engage audiences in the first production of MSG Sphere (exclusive)

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Director Darren Aronofsky — whose credits include The black swan, the wrestler AND The whale – will premiere the first immersive production made for MSG Sphere, the uniquely constructed sphere-shaped venue opening this fall in Las Vegas. In his first interview about the inventive project, Aronofsky confirmed that he created, directed and produced Postcard from Earth sharing new production details and his insight into the potential of the Sphere with The Hollywood Reporter.

“At its best, cinema is an immersive medium that transports audiences out of their normal lives, whether it be fantasy and escapism, another place and time, or another person’s subjective experience. The Sphere is an attempt to dial in that immersion,” says Aronofsky The Hollywood Reporter.

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The highly anticipated Las Vegas Sphere — expected to cost $2.175 billion to build when complete — features a 160,000-square-foot, 16K by 16K wraparound LED display, a custom spatial audio system, and 4D capabilities enabled through tactile seating and ambient effects. Viewing this high-resolution wraparound display creates an amazing feeling of being there and wowed those who watched the demonstration.

“I see Sphere as a great opportunity to take people away from the bling and hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas Strip in all its man-made craziness and immerse them as completely as possible in the wonder, awe and beauty of the natural world.” writes Aronofsky of the potential he imagines and why he created Postcard from Earth, what he describes as a “sci-fi journey deep into our future as our descendants reflect on our shared home.” Noting that the production contains both narrative and documentary elements, he adds, “we designed it to be as effective as possible to communicate the message we wanted to convey in an emotional way, so it’s less about genre than about the experience of the audience.”

In doing Postcard from Earth“We wanted to convey the broadest possible taste of life’s cornucopia of natural beauty and human achievement,” writes Academy Award-nominated director Aronofsky. Black Swan and whose The whale earned Brendan Fraser an Academy Award for Lead Actor. To achieve this, filming took place on every continent with locations in countries including India, Italy and underwater in the Bahamas.

Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Matty Libatique, a longtime Aronofsky collaborator, served as cinematographer, while Andrew Shulkind served as Sphere’s cinematographer for the Big Sky camera.

This was also the first production to use Big Sky, a custom camera system developed at Sphere Studios (the Burbank-based unit of Sphere Entertainment that will produce content for the new location). The single-lens camera has a 316-megapixel, 3-inch x 3-inch HDR image sensor that Sphere Studios says can capture 18K x 18K images at up to 120 frames per second.

“The camera has incredibly high resolution with a huge field of view. This is good for obvious reasons, but it also brings with it countless challenges,” notes Aronofsky. “Like anything, there are some things that Sphere works particularly well with and others that present new problems to solve. As different artists play with it, I’m sure they’ll find innovative ways to use it and impact audiences in different ways. He adds: “We recently figured out how to shoot with macro lenses and filmed a praying mantis resting on a branch. Imagine what it could be like when we present it 20 stories tall.

Postcard is currently in post-production, as production tools and methodology continue to evolve. “Every day we took out the camera, we got better at getting the best shots possible. It’s a learning process because the technology is new. And it’s the same with the mail,” writes Aronofsky. “Providing a half-petabyte movie, or 500,000 gigabytes, that uses more than 160,000 speakers is staggering. But honestly, every movie is always a learning experience. You’re always busy discovering the language of film and unearthing the story using the tools at hand. This is about how to make the beauty and fragility of our planet feel as powerful as possible. The tools might be a little different in this film, but the task is the same.”

Postcard is scheduled to premiere October 6 at the Sphere. This will be among the first productions to appear at the Las Vegas venue when it opens in the fall with a U2 residency.