World Premiere of IMAX® 3D Film about ALMA and VLT
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World Premiere of IMAX® 3D Film about ALMA and VLT

1 July, 2013 / Read time: 7 minutes

The 3D production Hidden Universe has been released in IMAX® theatres and giant-screen cinemas around the globe, with world premieres on 28 June 2013 at Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and on 29 June at the Tycho Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen, Denmark. The film shows state-of-the-art telescopes in high-resolution time-lapse, mesmerizing 3D versions of celestial structures, and a 3D simulation of the evolution of the Universe.

To actually visit the most cutting-edge telescope facilities in the world, one has to travel to far flung places — such as the Chilean Andes at altitudes of up to 5000 meters. Now there is an easier way to experience these extreme locations. For the first time in IMAX® 3D you can now explore the largest astronomical project in existence — ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array on screen, as well as visit ESO's flagship facility, the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the film Hidden Universe.

Russell Scott directed the film, and worked on location during the shooting in November 2012. "The experience of filming in the Atacama Desert at such world-class observing facilities has been amazing," he says. "Some of the otherworldly locations among the Andes mountains almost make you feel like you're on another planet, and this sensation of nature — beyond what we are used to — is exactly what I want to transmit to the audience."

From these extreme locations on Earth, the audience will be taken on a breathtaking tour of deep space in the cinematic medium that does it best: IMAX 3D. Viewers will peer deep inside vivid galaxies and nebulae, travel over the terrain of Mars, and witness stunning images of the Sun. The Universe is brought to life through real images and previously unseen giant-screen 3D simulations based on astronomical data gathered by ALMA, the VLT and other telescopes such as the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, creating an immersive IMAX 3D experience.

"Hidden Universe will explore the Sun, our human connection to the cosmos, and amazing views of faraway galaxies in a previously unseen way — giving a fresh insight into the Universe," explains producer Stephen Amezdroz.

The movie is narrated by British actress Miranda Richardson, winner of a Golden Globe Award for her performance in the art-house hit Enchanted April, and recipient of Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for her performance in Louis Malle's Damage, for which she won a BAFTA Award.

Hidden Universe is filmed in 15/70 mm and is produced by Australia's award-winning production company December Media in association with Film Victoria, Swinburne University of Technology, and ESO. The film is also produced in association with and distributed by two-time Academy Award®-nominated MacGillivray Freeman Films, the world's leading producer and distributor of IMAX films.

"We're enthusiastic to showcase ESO's telescopes and groundbreaking science results in IMAX," said Lars Lindberg Christensen, ESO's Head of the education and Public Outreach Department. "Only the IMAX format can really convey the breathtaking experience of seeing humanity's most advanced telescopes in action!"

A list of venues showing the film will be kept updated at the film's official website.

More Information

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in Taiwan and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI).

ALMA construction and operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organization in Europe and the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. ESO carries out an ambitious program focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organizing cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world's largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is the European partner of a revolutionary astronomical telescope ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. ESO is currently planning the 39-metre European Extremely Large optical/near-infrared Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky".

December Media is one of Australia's most experienced production companies in factual and documentary filmmaking. Based in Melbourne, the company is known for its quality documentaries and series made for the Australian and international markets. With more than 20 years of experience in documentary, education, award‐winning live action and animated children's television, December Media brings a wealth of development, financing and production experience as well as having extensive network, distribution and financing relationships across the globe.

Film Victoria, a state agency and strategic partner to the film industry, funds and promotes great original films made in Victoria, Australia, committing over AUD 7.2 million to local film and television projects last year alone. The agency has secured international and out-of-state productions for Victoria, including I Frankenstein, the HBO mini-series The Pacific, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Where the Wild Things Are, Ghost Rider and Knowing.

Swinburne 3D Productions, in conjunction with Swinburne University's Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, is a leader in scientific film production and high-end space visualizations, combining scientific data with innovative, proprietary techniques in CGI animation and 3D imaging. Specializing in film, interactive content and educational packages, Swinburne has over ten years of experience producing stereo-3D films.

MacGillivray Freeman Films is the world's foremost independent producer and distributor of giant-screen films for IMAX theatres, including the Oscar‐nominated Dolphins and The Living Sea. For the past forty years, the company's films have been shown in leading institutions around the world, making the company the first documentary filmmaker to reach the US$1 billion box office benchmark. MacGillivray Freeman's films are known for their artistry and successful blend of education and entertainment, as well as their celebration of science and the natural world.


Valeria Foncea 
Education and Public Outreach Officer
Joint ALMA Observatory
Santiago, Chile
Tel: +56 2 2467 6258
Cell: +56 9 7587 1963
E-mail: [email protected] 

Lars Lindberg Christensen
Head, ESO education and Public Outreach Department
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6761
Cell: +49 173 3872 621
Email: [email protected] 

Lori Rick 
Director of Communications
MacGillivray Freeman Films
Tel: +1 818 212 3434
Email: [email protected]