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‘Voyage of Time’: How Terrence Malick’s Cosmic Vision Was Brought to Life With Egg Yolk and Glycerine

Visual-effects supervisor Dan Glass explains his unique process in a new interview.

For the first four decades or so of Terrence Malick’s career, a new movie by the one-of-a-kind filmmaker was exceptionally rare. That’s changed since “The Tree of Life” was released five years ago, but what’s remained the same in Malick’s more prolific years is the awe-inducing nature (no pun intended) of his imagery. That’s especially true of “Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience,” the writer/director’s new documentary touching on everything from microscopic organisms to the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.

READ MORE: ‘Voyage of Time’: How Terrence Malick’s VFX Team Achieved Truth and Beauty

Dan Glass, who served as visual-effects supervisor on the film, spoke to the New York Times about his unique process to bringing that vision to life. Much of his and his team’s work was chemical- and water-based, with Glass and the filmmakers “dropping various fluids and materials into tanks, letting them merge and come to a place they felt best depicted what they were seeking.” For a scene depicting an early life form, for instance, they used egg yolk, glycerine and other solutions: “What it conjured for us,” offers Glass, “was this idea of the first moment of will or identity, the idea that at some moment before life really existed, that something twitched.”

READ MORE: Why Terrence Malick’s ‘Voyage of Time’ Must Be Seen On IMAX — Toronto Analysis

To create as realistic a rendering of a black hole as possible, the filmmakers brought in a researcher at Louisiana State University named Werner Benger to offer his expertise. “We gave movement to the black hole itself to make sure it felt dimensional,” says Glass. “It’s a pure computer-generated image, but has the basis of photographs from our Milky Way as a background.” Read the full piece here.

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