“The ancients, said Socrates, were uncomplicated, and if a certain
rock was known for telling the truth, they would listen to it.”
– John Michell, ‘SIMULACRA’ (1979)
Grant Wakefield began his career as a camera assistant and operator before training as a
cinematographer at the Northern School of Film and TV in 1994, and at the 3rd European Masterclass For Director of Photography Students in 1995. He then began a long association with London based Muso Productions, working as an operator on feature films and music videos for such bands as ORBITAL and WAY OUT WEST. He made his broadcast directorial debut with the 53 min. documentary CROPPIES in 1998, and that same year helmed much of the 2nd unit cinematography for the UK’s first ever 8 perf. 70mm production LOST KINGDOM. His audio documentary THE FIRE THIS TIME, released on CD in 2002, received widespread acclaim. An enduring interest in large format and experiential film making has seen him attend seven IMAX / Giant Screen conferences worldwide, and screen 2k digital works at the Bradford International Film Festival ‘Widescreen Weekend’ events every year since 2009, including the world premiere of REMNANTS in 2013. ANCIENT SKIES marks his debut in the FullDome format.
A pioneer of ambient-atmospheric-electronic music, Roach burst on to the scene with his landmark 1988 release DREAMTIME RETURN. Internationally renowned, he has dedicated over three decades to exploring myriad sound worldS, earning his position in the international pantheon of major music artists through a long list of groundbreaking recordings, fueled by his prolific nature and uncompromising approach. The core of his work has been nourished by years of intense live concerts in many innovative worldwide settings, further enhancing the emotive, cinematic, soul-stirring depth of his music. The soundtrack of ANCIENT SKIES was drawn from his extensive back catalogue.
Better known as BANCO DE GAIA, Marks is a Mercury Award nominated recording artist, performer, producer and label owner, specialising in eclectic global dance and chill-out music. Emerging from the haze of 1980’s acid house and the legendary Planet Dog ambient-dub scene, he has continued to record and perform worldwide, fusing house, dub, prog rock, jazz and world music elements. He headlined a stage at the Glastonbury Festival in 1995 and has released 16 albums since 1991, among which LAST TRAIN TO LHASA is considered a classic of the genre. Marks’ two pieces, written specifically for ANCIENT SKIES in collaboration with Zhenia Mahdi-Nau, were released on his 2013 album APOLLO.
Iranian born Zhenia Mahdi-Nau gained a BA in Visual Communication and Master of Science
in Future Communications in 2000,and has since been working in multimedia, photography and animation, and more recently film and social documentaries. Her passion for music has seen her writing and performing vocals with the band TRACELESS in late ‘90s, and jazz and blues with the multicultural band THE MOTION PROJECT in mid ‘00s. Her distinctive and haunting voice has been featured in the 2006 documentary MONKEY LOVE and the 2009 feature PUMP GIRL.
Glenn Marshall‘s enormously acclaimed 2002 short film BUTTERFLY immediately brought him to prominence in the field of computer graphics, winning multiple awards and which was screened in dozens of festivals worldwide. Passionate about pursuing computer art in every available technology and medium, he specialises in 3D, motion graphics and generative techniques, and has created several other shorts including 2004’s LOTUS. He creates his own visual effects tools that enable him to maintain his unique vision, has collaborated several times with Peter Gabriel on music videos and live projections, and retains a cinematic eye for beauty, composition, lighting and tempo.
Though his principal profession is as a geologist and software engineer, Legg is a tremendously gifted photographer and has specialised in nightscapes and timelapse since 2009, with work featured on APOD, Space Weather, National Geographic Space Pictures of the Week, and was short listed in the 2012 ROG Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. His timelapse short NOCTURNAL won first prize in the animation category at 2012 David Malin Awards (Australian Astrophotography Awards). Other material of his has featured in the BBC series WONDERS OF LIFE and SEASONS. For ANCIENT SKIES Colin spent a week in remote areas of Western Australia capturing some of the most extraordinary night timelapse ever recorded.
LEE FORD PARKER
US based Director of Photography Lee Parker has enjoyed a long career providing motion controlled timelapse for feature films, music videos, special venue entertainment, commercials, IMAX and other large format cinema systems. His custom built PIROUETTE system features 3-axis motion with GPS alignment and electronic focus control, compatible with some of the heaviest production cameras, such as Vistavision and 8 & 15 perf. 70mm. He was a TODD-AO 70mm consultant to Ron Fricke and Mark Magisdon‘s BARAKA, and his cinematography credits include LOST KINGDOM (8 perf. 70mm), Disney’s SACRED PLANET (15 perf. 70mm - IMAX) and the Madonna music video FROZEN.
Founder of Mumford Micro Systems, he is best known for precision timekeeping. His MicroSet Clock and Watch Timer is the standard for measuring the accuracy of mechanical clocks, and used to check the Great Clock in the tower at Westminster (Big Ben), as well as at Greenwich. Mumford‘s TIME MACHINE intervalometer and motion controller for digital cameras arose out of his interest in photography and timelapse, making motion control available to lower budget film makers for the first time. A prototype pan / tilt controller with ’ramping’ capability was developed specifically for ANCIENT SKIES & REMNANTS, and later additionally adapted for tracking. Both films were produced exclusively with his electronics, which performed flawlessly throughout production, often under very trying conditions.
Photographer Amanda Davis was one of the foremost contributors to both projects, both as a camera assistant on several interviews and timelapse shoots around England and Scotland, but principally as a digital image cleaner. With almost supernatural patience and a work ethic of frightening proportions, Davis rescued timelapse shots from plagues of birds, bugs, planes and sensor dust to yield pristine images that more than stand up in 2k & 4k resolution. Both films benefitted hugely from her remarkable efforts.
Director of Photography Joe Taylor crafted his skills directing and photographing shorts, and working as principal and 2nd unit cinematographer on award winning independent films, commercials, music videos and documentaries. He spent almost seven years diligently capturing the ghostly atmospheres of the deserts and abandoned towns of America’s southwest in 35mm timelapse for his much admired DEAD LONESOME project. With sound recordist Brian Alberth, for ANCIENT SKIES Taylor shot the interview with Martin Brennan in Mexico and Charles Ross in the US, as well as FullDome timelapse nightscapes in California and Utah.
FINN VAN GELDEREN
Finn Van Gelderen is an Irish cinematographer and documentary director of more than 25 years experience.He kindly assisted with the interviews with Professor George Eogan and writer Anthony Murphy, as well as timelapse, video and stills photography at the two main Boyne Valley sites featured in ANCIENT SKIES - Newgrange and Knowth.
Ross’ art manifests experiences of primal solar color and star geometry in sculptural form. His work has been exhibited in numerous museums including The Whitney Biennial, 1969; The Venice Biennale, 1986; The Centre Pompidou; The Hirshhorn Museum; PS1, New York; SITE Santa Fe; and The Lyon Biennale, 2000. In 1971-1972 his year long SUNLIGHT CONVERGENCE / SOLAR BURN project, caused him to re-discover a motif that is carved into many Megalithic sites associated with cosmology. Art historian and critic Donald Kuspit wrote: “Charles Ross is light’s advocate, converting us to an in-depth appreciation of light’s presence."
PROFESSOR GEORGE EOGAN
Director of the Knowth Research Project, and a leading expert in the archaeology of Ireland,
with a particular interest in the Neolithic and late Bronze Ages, Professor Eogan has been excavating at Knowth for more than 40 years as part of his investigation into the Passage Tombs of Ireland and Western Europe. He has taught and lectured extensively, and is now Professor Emeritus of Archaeology, University College, Dublin. His research has led to approximately 90 papers and 9 books, including IRELAND IN PRE-HISTORY (1977) and KNOWTH AND THE PASSAGE TOMBS OF IRELAND (1986).
A writer and journalist, Murphy was the editor of the Drogheda Leader and Dundalk Democrat newspapers, and has studied the astronomy, archaeology and mythology of the Boyne Valley sites for 15 years. With Richard Moore he is the co-author of the best selling book ISLAND OF THE SETTING SUN - IN SEARCH OF IRELAND’S ANCIENT ASTRONOMERS. He has written dozens of magazine and newspaper articles, and appeared in numerous television documentaries and radio programmes about the Boyne Valley. His MYTHICAL IRELAND website is one of that country’s most heavily visited, and his most recent book is
NEWGRANGE - MONUMENT TO IMMORTALITY.
Brennan trained in visual communication at The Pratt Institute. In the 1980’s he conducted the most extensive research into Ireland’s carved Megalithic stones ever undertaken. He is the author of three books, THE BOYNE VALLEY VISION (1980), THE STONES OF TIME (1984) and HIDDEN MAYA (1998). His theories and astronomical interpretations of the carvings were initially considered highly controversial, but now receive much wider acceptance in the overall archaeological picture. Brennan’s books can be purchased via the link in the photo above.
Along with her first husband Gerald Ponting and second husband Ron, Curtis researched the Megalithic complexes of Callanish for over three decades. Without any formal archaeological training Curtis nonetheless developed an intuitive and highly successful approach to the subject, and is responsible for over a dozen finds of previously unknown sites and for the use of geometry to locate missing stones at known sites. Her theories on the overall purpose of Callanish have generated both rejection of, and a wealth of converts to, the Archaeo-Astronomical viewpoint. References to her work can be found via the link in the photo above.
A biology teacher by trade, Ponting moved to The Hebrides in 1974 with his first wife Margaret. Taking a deep interest in the Megalithic sites of the area, and in the absence of an official local
archaeologist, they in effect took on this role, self-publishing the first ever guide book -
THE STANDING STONES OF CALLANISH - which sold 13,000 copies - and received a British Archaeological Award. Inspired by the work of Professor Alexander Thom, they began making horizon surveys and relating them to positions of the sun and moon, presenting their findings at major conferences including Harvard University and The Smithsonian Institution. He is the author of several books, including CALLANISH AND OTHER MEGALITHIC SITES OF THE
OUTER HEBRIDES, which can be purchased at his website via the link in the photo above.
Holder of a degree in Archaeology & Anthropology from St. John‘s College at the University of
Cambridge, and a PhD from the University of Glasgow, Mackie is honorary research fellow and semi-retired senior curator of Archaeology at the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow. He has written extensively for publications such as New Scientist, and is the co-founder of the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies. He was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1973, Keeper of Archaeology and Anthropology in 1974, and was their Deputy Director from 1986 to 1995. His 1977 book SCIENCE AND SOCIETY IN PREHISTORY posited that the Neolithic developed a stratified society, led by an astronomically and scientifically advanced theocracy or ’priesthood,‘ centred around key sites. Though initially dismissed by academia, much of what Mackie advanced appears to have been borne out by new discoveries in the ensuing years. His books can be purchased via the link in the photo above.
Dawson is the director & curator of the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes, Wiltshire. The museum was established, and is still run by, the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society (WANHS), a registered charity founded in 1853. It houses some of the most important artefacts ever discovered in Britain - those from Bush Barrow, an early Bronze Age burial mound in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site excavated by William Cunnington in 1808. Dawson kindly consented to be interviewed on the subject of Stonehenge when archaeologist and writer Aubrey Burl sadly had to decline due to ill health.
DR. EDWIN KRUPP
One of the best known and most respected astronomers of his generation, Krupp has been
the Director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles since 1974. He attended Pomona College, majoring in physics & astronomy (B.A., 1966), and received his M.A. (1968) and Ph.D. (1972) in astronomy at U.C.L.A. He is the author and editor of five books on ancient, prehistoric, and traditional astronomy, and has visited almost 2000 associated sites throughout the world. He has written hundreds of articles on astronomy and culture, dozens of research papers and four children‘s books. His 1983 book ECHOES OF THE ANCIENT SKIES - THE ASTRONOMY OF LOST CIVILISATIONS was both a primary inspiration and a key reference for the film.
PROFESSOR JOHN BROWN
The 10th Royal Astronomer for Scotland, Brown is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow, a Leverhulme Emeritus Research Fellow, and Honorary Professor at both the Universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The author of one book and over 250 papers, he is the recipient of dozens of academic awards and honours, most recently The Royal Astronomical Society 2012 Geophysics Gold Medal. A teacher, and a worldwide visiting fellow, research collaborator and lecturer, Brown has appeared in productions for the BBC’s Open University and The Sky at Night, and National Geographic Television.
PROFESSOR CLIVE RUGGLES
In 1999 Ruggles was appointed Emeritus Professor of Archaeo-Astronomy in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester, UK, the first such post in the world. He has written and published numerous books, papers and articles on subjects ranging from prehistoric Europe and pre-Columbian America to indigenous astronomies in Africa and elsewhere. He has ongoing fieldwork projects in Peru and Polynesia, and is a leading figure in the joint initiative by UNESCO and the International Astronomical Union working to promote, preserve and protect the world’s most important astronomical heritage sites: www.astronomicalheritage.net. Ruggles has had an academic career specialising in astrophysics, computer science and archaeology, and is the author, amongst other works, of ANCIENT ASTRONOMY – AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COSMOLOGIES AND MYTH (2005) and ASTRONOMY IN PREHISTORIC BRITAIN AND IRELAND (1999).
Glenn Smith, pictured at left, is the Executive Producer of ANCIENT SKIES and the Managing Director of the European division of SKY-SKAN. Pioneers in the field, and a current worldwide leader, the company was founded in 1967 to create special effect visuals for planetariums. To augment the standard star projector, they developed the SPICE automation system for slide projectors which quickly became the industry standard. In the 1990‘s they began work on a new class of planetarium, one that used the dome as a giant digital canvas. The first product, SkyVision, covered every square metre of the screen with full-motion video. Even though multiple projectors were used, SKY-SKAN aligned, masked, and blended the video to form one seamless image, which sparked content creators to begin telling stories, as opposed to the traditional presenter-led shows. Spurred by the success of SkyVision, they developed the exclusive use of video to digitally replicate stars. The resulting software, DigitalSky, brought about a whole new FullDome theatre type: the ’Definiti.‘ DigitalSky, coupled with the advanced hardware required to handle extremely high 4k & 8k resolution real-time visualisations and surround sound, are at the heart of every ’Definiti‘ theatre today. Smith’s personal interest in Neolithic civilisation led to his collaboration with Wakefield on ANCIENT SKIES, which marks one of SKY-SKAN Europe’s first ever full length, in-house productions.
DR. JENNY SHIPWAY
Dr. Shipway is the director of the Intech Science Centre & FullDome Planetarium in Winchester, UK, an interactive centre administered by the educational charity The Hampshire Technology Centre Trust Ltd, with the specific purpose of promoting the knowledge and understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Trust was founded in 1985, and the centre has grown into an important regional hub for informal science learning and a popular attraction for schools and the general public, with annual visitor figures in excess of 120,000. She very kindly screened several early test reels, crucial to the technical considerations involved in the creation of ANCIENT SKIES, as well as hosting its world premiere.
CAROLYN COLLINS PETERSEN
A member of the American Astronomical Society and the National Association of Science Writers, Petersen earned a masters‘ degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Colorado, where she was a Professional Research Associate with the Hubble Space Telescope’s Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph team. An award winning writer and co-founder of FullDome production company LOCH NESS PRODUCTIONS, she also serves as associate producer for AstroCast.TV, an online video magazine focused on astronomy and space science topics, and was the co-author of the 1995 book HUBBLE VISION with Dr. John C. Brandt. Peterson was instrumental in the creation of the 25 min. version of ANCIENT SKIES as script editor and writer of additional narration.
INTERNATIONAL DARK-SKY ASSOCIATION
ANCIENT SKIES has been endorsed by the INTERNATIONAL DARK-SKY ASSOCIATION. Their website states: "Once a source of wonder - one half of the entire planets’ natural environment - the star-filled nights of just a few years ago are vanishing in a yellow haze. Human produced light pollution not only mars our view of the stars. Poor lighting threatens astronomy, disrupts ecosystems, affects human circadian rhythms, and wastes energy to the tune of $2.2 billion per year in the US alone. The IDA believes that a lost view of the stars extinguishes a connection with the natural world and blinds us to one of the most splendid wonders in the universe. Children who grow up without the experience of a starry night miss invaluable opportunities to speculate about larger questions, and to learn about the environment and larger world."
I would like to extend a huge thanks to all the stills photographers and archivists who contributed to ANCIENT SKIES:
Anthony Murphy, Alan Betson @ The Irish Times, Sinead Morrison, Anne-Marie Moroney, Gerald Ponting, Margaret Curtis, Euan Mackie, Andrew Dunn, Simon Banton, David Mackie @ Orkney Library & Archive, David Bukach @ University of Birmingham (courtesy of Wiltshire Heritage Museum) and most especially Pete Glastonbury, and Clive Collier for his 2D>3D still image animations.
And finally, my eternal thanks and appreciation to John Rorke & Mario DiMaggio at the THINKTANK Science Museum and Planetarium in Brirmingham, UK, for their kindness, advice and technical assistance in the early days of the project, and without whom it would likely never have happened.