Lucent Matter - An Intergalactic Journey

Lucent Matter – An Intergalactic Journey

It began on a cloudy day in November 2015 at the Royal College of Art when a new fulldome project called By the Light of the Stars was launched by FDRG member Michaela French as part of the Information Experience Design, More is Different elective. Dr Andrew Pontzen, cosmologist and dark matter specialist from UCL was invited to give an introductory lecture which opened our minds to the infinite wonders and mysteries of the universe.That day Sylvana Lautier, Rose Leahy and Kim Yip Tong took their one way ticket into the depths of the fulldome black hole!

lucent-matter_02A quote from Carlo Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physics became our field guide and a continuous source of inspiration throughout the making of our first fulldome film Lucent Matter.

“Einstein’s theory of relativity in short describes a colourful and amazing world where universes explode, space collapses into bottomless holes, time sags and slows near a planet, and the unbounded extensions of interstellar space ripple and sway like the surface of the sea…”

Newton had imagined that space was a great empty container, a large box which enclosed the universe. The analogy between space as a container and behaviour of light and the electromagnetic field as water waves, inspired us to use everyday objects filmed inside an aquarium as a metaphor. We sought to challenge classic digital visualisations of space through an emotional and material approach; visualising the intangible and unreachable nature of the universe through light, matter, texture and colour.

lucent-matter_03We began by shooting various material experiments with everyday objects in the animation studio at the RCA. A blender became a black hole, flour became particles in a supernova explosion and ink in water formed a nebulae from which planets and stars emerged.

lucent-matter_04Through these experiments we slowly began to build our narrative and decided to tell the story of the life cycle of a star. None of the production team had any previous experience in digital animation, so we learned everything along the way, recording, manipulating and animating the footage and all at 4K resolution.

lucent-matter_05What followed was a five month adventure of close collaboration and many sleepless nights in the RCA basement. From editing and compositing each other’s work, Lucent Matter emerged, a three handed fulldome animated film with a single vision.


Musician and composer, Josh Middleton added another dimension to our work by helping us construct a complex layered soundtrack which was mixed in 5.1 surround by Mike Wyeld in the RCA Sound Studio.

Lucent Matter brought us further than we could have imagined and culminated with a screening of our film at the 10th Jena Fulldome Festival at the Zeiss Planetarium in Jena, Germany in May 2016. We attended the festival with fellow FDRG members Anna Dakin and Rob Walker,  and immersed ourselves for three days and nights in the space of the oldest operating planetarium in the world. Lucent Matter was selected among the student fulldome film finalists, along with Alice Kilkenny’s Dante’s Paradiso and Michaela French’s The Light of Home.

We returned  to London and the real world, excited about embarking on new fulldome adventures…