Dark Star Systems is working on a scientific storytelling web app called Horizon. The goal is to help scientists produce compelling, beautiful videos explaining their work, without specialized video knowledge or tools.
The app has two main parts: one helps to visualize your data beautifully, and the other helps scientists to become better storytellers.
Horizon users can import their 2D and 3D data sets in a variety of common formats; it converts those data sets into beautiful moving imagery. Users can then animate the data to highlight particular aspects, add tags and callouts, and set up motion tracks.
All the final rendering in Horizon is done in the cloud, using industry-standard ray-traced renders for highest accuracy, with full depth of field, motion blur, advanced physically based materials, reflections, and refractions.
Just rendering data is not enough to tell a compelling story; to reach an audience, scientists need to become storytellers. Storytelling is one of the most ancient arts. It has its own language, conventions, and pitfalls. Film also has its own language: editing, lighting, and music all contribute as much as the underlying story.
Horizon includes an interview component, to help stimulate story development. It’s designed to help the user think about who the audience is and what they want, and create a traditional story structure with a real story arc, including character, conflict, and resolution, building to a strong conclusion.
Horizon will ship with professionally designed templates for many common scientific videos. We are working with Emmy Award–winning editors and designers to bring top-quality content and style to our users.
Templates include overall video design (shot by shot), music, lighting, camera moves, transitions, color schemes, and titles. Simply slot your data, video footage, and stills in, and get a beautiful result.
The app will also ship with a collection of useful objects, textures, and images, such as lipid bilayers, organelles to add depth and interest to scenes, realistic surface textures, lighting and camera rigs, and stock imagery.
Horizon is initially aimed at the biology market; we plan to support other
fields of science such as physics, chemistry, and geology over time. We’d love
to hear from you if you’d like to see Horizon support your type of
data: email us!
We created a demo video that represents what we hope Horizon will be able to create. It’s on our videos page.