In an era of ubiquitous CGI effects in movies there are still some notable diversions taking a more classic approach. Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain (2006) is a perfect example of this. Macrophotographer/marine biologist Peter Parks, who masterminded and filmed the chemical and biological elements seen in The Fountain explains:

“The studio gave Darren a really hard time,” Parks recalls. “Nobody believed he could make this film without CGI. The studio thought he was crazy.” With a stack of Hubble photographs for inspiration, [Parks and his son] worked from before dawn till late at night for 10 weeks. The cost of a single f/x sequence from ILM can reach several million dollars, but Parks shot all the footage Aronofsky needed for just $140,000.

Parks and his son run a home f/x shop based on a device they call the microzoom optical bench. Bristling with digital and film cameras, lenses, and Victorian prisms, their contraption can magnify a microliter of water up to 500,000 times or fill an Imax screen with the period at the end of this sentence. Into water they sprinkle yeast, dyes, solvents, and baby oil, along with other ingredients they decline to divulge… The upshot is that Parks can make a dash of curry powder cascading toward the lens look like an onslaught of flaming meteorites. “When these images are projected on a big screen, you feel like you’re looking at infinity,” he says. “That’s because the same forces at work in the water – gravitational effects, settlement, refractive indices – are happening in outer space.”

Truly amazing and inspiring when you watch this video knowing CGI wasn’t implemented for these complex background elements.

Check out the original article here.