Consider the following video by BBC about the Pillars of Creation:

According to a quick google search, the POC are 7000 light years away.

If we just had a picture of the POC from Hubble, and we zoom into that picture, that seems the most realistic to me.

However, in the video, it is as if the camera is actually going past clouds of gas, numerous stars, and even zooming into the POC. There is no break in the video. Every single frame is getting us closer to the POC.

How exactly is this done?

Hubble does not use film, but it's as if a very powerful film camera from Earth was able to manually zoom into the POC.

Unless its all CGI.

I understand this this one is CGI, as evident from the video title, but many space documentaries follow a similar approach to what I mentioned above

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It says it's an "Amazing 3D Visualization" right on the title card. $\endgroup$
    – notovny
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 22:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For this video yes, but what about other videos that do the same thing? Would they also all be CGI $\endgroup$
    – K Split X
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 22:43
  • $\begingroup$ @notovny good catch! But the question is "Are all space documentaries CGI?" and this is just a helpful example for background. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 22:43
  • $\begingroup$ @KSplitX here's a good example of scientific and admitted CGI based on a series of Hubble images: V838 Monocerotis "light-echo" images morphed into nice video, but why so few original images? I'd say that the further we go away from very reputable sources and towards popular Astronomy outlets or heavily advertisement-laded monetized YouTube channels by individuals, the more we have to be careful and wonder what is CGI and what is real. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ Here's the famous Pillars of Creation 1995 HST image and we can see that a larger image will need some background fill-in that can be constructed from other lower-resolution images and some careful scientific illustration skills. As long as the final content is well-labeled, this is, in my opinion, good, healthy public-outreach hygiene. But it's easy to go overboard or forget to clearly explain what's real and what isn't so we must always keep a close eye on the source and the "fine print" that comes along with the work in question $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 22:52

1 Answer 1



https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0262990/mediaviewer/rm4126849281/ enter image description here

The Sky at Night, 1957.

Space documentaries have existed for longer than "CGI"

  • $\begingroup$ ++1 for retro $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 3:59

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