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Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey
Directed by Harry Kloor[1][2]
Dan St. Pierre[1][3]
Produced by Harry Kloor
Helen Pao-Yun Huang
Jeff Tzong-Jer Yang
Exec. Prods.
Tom Teng
Teddy Zee[1]
Ellen Goldsmith-Vein[1][4]
Jon Vein
Written by Harry Kloor
Starring as of July 2008:
Chris Pine
Amanda Peet
Samuel L. Jackson
Hayden Christensen
James Earl Jones
Sandra Oh
William Shatner
Mark Hamill
Doug Jones
Abigail Breslin
Spencer Breslin
Robert Picardo
Brent Spiner
Music by Shawn K. Clement[5]
Cinematography Christopher Courtois
Editing by Dan Gutman
Distributed by Lions Gate Family Entertainment
Jupiter 9 Productions[6]
Release date(s) 2010
Running time 45 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$ 10,000,000[7]

Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey (originally titled as 2004: A Light Knight's Odyssey) is a 2010 animated educational sci-fi adventure film,[8] written by Harry 'Doc' Kloor and directed by Kloor and Dan St. Pierre. The voice cast originally included Christian Slater, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Michael York, and James Earl Jones.[9][10][11][12][13]

Quantum Quest is a science fiction film that takes the viewer on an atom adventure in space.[14] This film, featuring a cast of major actors providing their voices to the characters, was initiated by JPL/NASA through a grant from Jet Propulsion Lab via the international Cassini Huygens mission to Saturn.[14][15][16] Though other missions have been seen in film projects, this is the first where NASA initiated the project with an independent filmmaker in order to create an animated fiction film to be based upon on-going missions, science, and discovery.[14][15][16] The 3D, large format CGI-animated educational film interweaves actual space imagery captured from ongoing NASA missions with an adventure, set in an imaginary universe and intended to create a family-friendly film experience that entertains while educating viewers about our solar system.[14][15][16][17] The film was tied into 7 on-going space missions and includes footage from the Cassini-Huygens, SOHO, Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, Venus Express, and Mercury Messenger space missions.[14][16] Quantum Quest will be released in both IMAX format and regular theaters worldwide.[14][15] The film is 45 minutes long and will integrate pre and post theater educational program for K – 12 students that exceed Federal and State educational guidelines.[14][15][16]

Setting yet another precedent, Quantum Quest is the first film featuring Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, who lends his voice to a character and serves as one of four distinguished education ambassadors.[18] Other educational ambassadors are NASA’s liaison on the film, Charles Kohlhase, who has led the design of deep-space robotic missions to Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune and has received NASA’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal;[7] Anousheh Ansari, the world’s first female private space explorer and serial entrepreneur and co-founder and chairman of Prodea Systems,[19] and Dr. Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation (which awarded the $10M Ansari X PRIZE), CEO of Zero Gravity Corporation, Chairman & Co-Founder of the Rocket Racing League and co-Founder of the International Space University.[20]

Contents

Production

Background

Dr. Kloor started development of the Quantum Quest film project in 1996, a year before the launch of the Cassini-Huygens mission.[15] In 2007, Digimax, Inc., one of Asia’s leading 3D animation studios, committed to financing the film and providing animation. Actual production on the film could not begin until the Cassini/Huygens (a $3.5 billion dollar) reached its target and sent back its discoveries.[15] Final images and radar data, providing a partial radar map, were released by NASA in 2008, enabling the film to proceed.[15] Quantum Quest is a precedent-setting film, combining state-of-the-art CGI with real images and radar data from the ongoing Cassini-Huygen, SOHO, Stereo mission to the Sun, Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, Venus Express, and Mercury Messenger space missions, representing billions of dollars of NASA investment.

Working on two continents, Taiwan based Digimax undertook the entire animation pre-production and production task in Taiwan with a team of international artists, while Dr. Kloor and his Jupiter 9 Productions assembled a stellar voice cast, produced all talent recordings and, in concert with the film’s composer Shawn Clement, put together the post sound and music package.[21][22] The film will be distributed and marketed in Asia by Digimax, and by Jupiter 9 Productions in all other territories.[22]

Staff

Harry 'Doc' Kloor has 15 years experience writing/developing films and TV series.[23][24][25] In 1994, he earned the unique status of being the first and, to date, the only person in the world to simultaneously earn two doctorates, one in Physics and the other in Chemistry, both earned at Purdue University.[23][25] His writing credits include Star Trek: Voyager and the animated series Godzilla, and Earth: Final Conflict.[23] He also played a key role in developing the hit TV series Earth: Final Conflict. Dr. Kloor founded a National Science Outreach Program at Purdue University in 1991, forming partnerships with Marvel Entertainment and Paramount Pictures to use their iconic properties such as Spider Man and Star Trek to advance science.[23][25] Dr. Kloor has produced and directed a variety of commercials and industrial documentaries and has published stories in various newspapers and scientific publications.[23][25] He has served as Science Advisor to the famed X Prize organization, and has worked in advancing science literacy to the public for over 20 years.[23][25]

Daniel St. Pierre, director, has a varied history in the motion picture industry.[26] He began as an Assistant Layout Artist at Filmation Studios and worked as a storyboard artist, layout artist, background painter, and animator on many hit television series including, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and The Real Ghostbusters.[26] St. Pierre made the switch to Feature Animation when hired by The Walt Disney Company as a layout artist on The Little Mermaid.[26] St. Pierre supervised design for many of Disney's blockbuster films and ultimately was art director for Tarzan, which garnered the Academy Award in Science and Technology for the acclaimed Deep Canvas process, and earned him an Annie Award nomination for Art Direction.[26] Following Disney, St. Pierre supervised motion picture development at Dreamworks Animation and handled Production Design on the hit film Shark Tale.[26] His directing debut came when IDT Entertainment called him to assist with the completion of Christopher Reeve’s animated film Everyone's Hero.[26]

Teddy Zee, producer, is a producer, executive and former studio executive whose films he acquired, developed, produced and/or managed have grossed over $2.6 billion at the box office.[27] He produced Hitch, Saving Face, and West 32nd; executive produced Pursuit of Happyness and Life or Something Like It; and was the executive in charge of films such as Charlie’s Angels, Anaconda, Star Trek VI, Indecent Proposal, The Cable Guy, First Knight, Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers, Fools Rush In, My Girl, Mo' Money and The Replacement Killers.[27] Zee also executive produced the Asian Excellence Awards.[27]

Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, producer, is CEO and founder of The Gotham Group, recognized as one of the leading creator-driven management and production firms in the entertainment industry.[28] Goldsmth-Vein and The Gotham Group currently have a diverse slate of over 30 feature films set up at various studios.[28] Goldsmith-Vein was a producer on the worldwide smash hit The Spiderwick Chronicles.[28]

Production companies

Lions Gate Family Entertainment

Jupiter 9 Productions, Inc: Quantum Quest was initiated by Kloor through Jupiter 9 Productions at JPL in 1996.[15] Jupiter 9 Productions has been involved in production and consulting services to leading Science and Technology firms, and provided these same services to a host of television and film companies.[15] The company has a substantial development slate of live action and animated feature projects, several of which are based on award-winning novels from Kevin J. Anderson, Mike Resnick, and Robert A. Heinlein.[15]

Digimax Inc

Digimax, Inc: Founded in 1990, Digimax, Inc. is an international award-winning digital content company.[22][29] As a leading company in Asia, and Taiwan government designated flagship company for the digital content industry, Digimax engages in the investment, development, production and distribution of computer animated films and related products.[22][29] Also, Digimax is aiming to develop original characters and contents for worldwide audiences of all ages.[22][29] The company has partnered with The Gotham Group to co-produce CG movies since 2003.[30] This year, the company received “Grand Prize” from 2008 Tokyo International Anime Fair, the world largest anime fair, for its CG film Adventures in the NPM, co-produced by Digimax and National Palace Museum in Taiwan.[29] The company’s CG short Heavy Duty has been accepted by ACM SIGGRAPH 2008 Computer Animation Festival and ACM SIGGRAPH ASIA 2008 Computer Animation Festival - Electronic Theater.[29][31]

Release dates

Originally intended for a 2004 television release as 2004: A Light Knight's Odyssey, the film has had proposed release dates for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009[32][33][34][35][36], and is now expected to be released in 2010.[11][37][38] Excerpts were shown at the 2008 ComicCon in San Diego which featured voice cameos from actors William Shatner, Chris Pine, Brent Spiner, Doug Jones and Jason Alexander.[16][39][40][41]

Synopsis

The story begins with the Cassini Saturn space craft releasing the Huygens Titan probe. We then transition to earth, where a 12-year-old girl, Jeana, places a sun filter over a telescope to view sun spots. She asks her mentor, an African American Professor "Why is the Sun so bright?" This leads the professor to launch into a scientific explanation about fusion. The little girl laughs, having played this trick on her mentor many times, she says "No I meant bright, bright like happy. In most drawings the sun has a big smile. Is he good, like the man in the moon." Knowing this means she wants a story, the mentor begins to spin a tale, but as a mentor, this one, while entertaining, is also educational.[42]

As he speaks, we transition to the Sun, and watching a Sun Spot spin into view, we dive into and pass through the chromosphere, and head toward the center. The mentor lays down the basis of our story as we travel through the sun. He explains that the "man in the sun is called the Core" and spins a story how he is good and that his children "photons" are sent out to chase away the darkness, and bring life, warmth, and knowledge to Earth. He adds that the only being who does not like the Core is a creature called the "Void" who is an ancient, malevolent, being who existed before the Big Bang, and who sits at the edge of the solar system, scheming to stop the Core.[42]

We transition through a plasma wall, into "The Hall of Destiny" where we are introduced to the main character in our story - David, a young Photon who should have begun his travel to the surface a million years ago. The Core, tries to get him moving on his journey, but David is fearful.[42]

We cut to the Kuiper Belt where a large space battle rages between two fleets - one composed of protons, and the opposing fleet of anti-protons. A character we call "The Ranger, who is a neutrino scout, makes it through the battle lines and heads to the sun.[42]

Back in the Sun, David is kicking Solid Light sculptures into a plasma fountain. The Ranger crashes through the wall into David, followed by some imaginary creatures called Gell-Mann ghosts. The Ranger is trying to get to Saturn (other side of the Sun), to deliverer a message to the Cassini Space Core Commander. The Gell-Mann ghosts (nasty creatures) surround them. The only way to escape is to give the message scroll to David, and ask him to deliver it while the Ranger holds the ghosts at bay. David sails through the sun and encounters a "surfer dude" Solar Proton, Jammer, who surfs the solar winds.[42]

David's journey takes him through the solar system, to an exploration of the moons of Saturn. Eventually he finds Milton, an older photon character who is mining for free quarks. Milton teaches David introductory material about electrons, protons, quarks, etc. The two evade the evil/comical forces of the Void, until they get captured by the "Dark Side of the Moon".[42]

In the process of escaping we learn about the fundamental modes of motion and introduce basic quantum concepts. The message scroll is partially damaged, so David does not know who the space commander is, but he knows that he needs to get to the Cassini Space craft, because something bad will happen.[42]

He gets inside the Cassini craft and encounters the ship's computer, GAL 2000, who, in the course of determining the danger, teaches David about spectra, the mission of the space craft, different radiation bands used for remote sensing, etc. In the end, they save the antenna of the ship from a beam of anti-matter sent by the Void. They do this with the help of Jammer. David discovers that he is the Space Core Commander (all this time, searching for himself). He leads the transmission back to Earth, and through a system of antennas, is processed, and as Jeana accesses the Web page of JPL, he flies through the screen and enters Jeana's eye.[42]

Cast (voices)

The film's cast and crew had gone through few changes during the first 7 years of production.[32][33][34][35]

Cast, inception through 2007

In 2007, director Adrian Carr and actor David Warner left the project. At the July 2008 ComicCon in San Diego, a modified cast was revealed who are expected to see the film through to completion and release.[16][43][44]

Cast as of 2008

Music

The score to Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey was composed by Shawn K. Clement, who recorded his score with an 80-piece ensemble of the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra at the Skywalker Scoring Stage north of San Francisco. Clement integrated sounds and space noise provided by NASA into the music, and served as Post Audio Producer on the film.[45]

Quotes

Robert Picardo: "I had not yet seen the full animation...", "...It'll teach kids something about quantum physics while they're watching a really cool IMAX animated film".[46] "This is the kind of project I am really proud to be a part of because it really encourages people to become passionate about space and space science."[13] Chris Pine: (stated) that making the film "was a blast" and that he has always wanted to do voice work.[13] He also noted how in making the film he has learned a lot about science, and photons and neutrinos, something that the film tries to impart to the audience.[13]

References

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