Director Darren Aronofsky — whose credits include Black Swan, The Wrestler and The Whale — will next premiere the first immersive production made for the MSG Sphere, the uniquely constructed sphere-shaped venue that opens this fall in Las Vegas. In his first interview about the inventive project, Aronofsky confirmed that he created, directed and produced Postcard From Earth while sharing new details about the production and his view on the potential of the Sphere with The Hollywood Reporter.

“At its best, cinema is an immersive medium that transports the audience out of their regular life, whether that’s into fantasy and escapism, another place and time, or another person’s subjective experience. The Sphere is an attempt to dial up that immersion,” Aronofsky tells The Hollywood Reporter.

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The anticipated Las Vegas Sphere — whose construction is expected to cost $2.175 billion when completed — features a 160,000-square-foot, 16K-by-16K wraparound LED display, custom spatial audio system and 4D capabilities enabled through haptic seats and environmental effects. Viewing this wraparound high-resolution display creates a remarkable sense of being there and has been wowing those who have experienced the demonstration.

“I see Sphere as a great opportunity to pluck people from the bling and thrum of the Vegas strip in all its human constructed madness and immerse them as fully as possible in the wonder, awe and beauty of the natural world,” Aronofsky writes of the potential he envisions and why he created Postcard From Earth, what he describes as a “sci-fi journey deep into our future as our descendants reflect on our shared home.” Noting that the production contains both narrative and documentary elements, he adds, “we designed it to be as effective as possible to communicate the message we wanted to deliver in an emotional way, so it’s less about genre than about the audience experience.”

In making Postcard from Earth, “we wanted to convey as broad a taste of the cornucopia of life, natural beauty and human achievement as we could,” writes Aronofsky, who was Oscar-nominated for helming Black Swan and whose The Whale earned Brendan Fraser an Academy Award for lead actor. To accomplish this goal, filming took place on every continent with locations in countries including India, Italy and underwater in the Bahamas.

Oscar-nominated cinematographer Matty Libatique, a longtime collaborator with Aronofsky, served as director of photography, and Andrew Shulkind was Sphere director of photography for the Big Sky camera.

This was also the first production to use Big Sky, a bespoke camera system developed at Sphere Studios (the Burbank-based unit of Sphere Entertainment that will produce content for the new venue). The single-lens camera has a 316-megapixel, 3-inch x 3-inch HDR image sensor that Sphere Studios says can capture 18K x 18K images up to 120 frames per second.

“The camera is incredibly high resolution with a huge field of view. That’s a positive for obvious reasons, but it provides countless challenges too,” notes Aronofsky. “Like anything there are some things that Sphere works particularly well with and others that present new problems to solve. As different artists play with it, I’m sure they’ll find innovative ways to use it and affect audiences in different ways.” He adds, “We just recently figured out how to shoot with macro lenses and we filmed a praying mantis resting on a branch. Imagine what that may feel like when we present it 20 stories high.”

Postcard is currently in postproduction, as the production tools and methodology continue to evolve. “Every day we’ve taken out the camera we’ve gotten better at getting the best possible shots. It’s a learning process because the technology is new. And it’s the same with post,” Aronofsky writes. “Delivering a half-petabyte movie — that’s 500,000 gigabytes — that utilizes more than 160,000 speakers is mind boggling. But honestly, every film is always a learning experience. You are always in a process discovering the language of the film and unearthing the story using the tools you’ve got at hand. Here it’s about how to make the beauty and fragility of our planet feel as potent as possible. The tools might be a little different on this film, but the task is the same.”

Postcard is scheduled to premiere Oct. 6 at the Sphere. This will be among the first productions to appear at the Las Vegas venue when it opens in the fall with a U2 residency.

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