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Animating The Cosmos: Series DVD/Blu-Ray Highlights Animation Inspiration

Forget how the cosmos were made. How about Cosmos’ animation?

Part of the bonus materials offered in the Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Blu-ray and DVD editions–dropping June 10 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment–is a look into the different types of animation and how they enhanced the narrative.

Brent Woods, Cosmos’ supervising animation director

The animation was used to portray historical elements, and created by Seth MacFarlane’s Fuzzy Door Productions, which also animates Family Guy and American Dad. The artists took their cues from graphic novels and animated art house films, particularly the 2009 Oscar-nominated Celtic fantasy, The Secret of Kells, and the 2010 Russian short, Invention of Love.

“We came up with a style of backgrounds for the backdrops, of layering photorealistic images with mystical effects and smoke to create a diorama feel,” says consulting animation producer Kara Vallow in the feature. “We’re creating an entire world within the cosmos.”

“It feels like, even though it’s animation, it maintains the nobility of the rest of the series,” adds MacFarlane.


The 13 episodes–hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and executive produced by Ann Druyan, MacFarlane, Mitchell Cannold, and Brannon Braga–follow-up Carl Sagan’s 1980 PBS series. The series concludes its Fox run June 8.

Other bonus materials include a five-part documentary on the making of the series, the Cosmos’ San Diego Comic-Con excursion, a Carl Sagan celebration, and (exclusive to the Blu-ray) interactive “Cosmic Calendar,” which compresses the history of the universe into a single year.

Go git ’em here. Once you understand the inner workings of an animator’s mind, quasars will be a piece of cake.SK