Cool eclipse video needed no 'Star Wars' special effects

Lucasfilm special effects guru John Knoll captures a natural 'pinhole' video in his front yard

As an Oscar-winning executive at Lucasfilm's Industrial Light & Magic, John Knoll has Star Wars-worthy special effects wizardry at his fingertips, yet he needed nothing but a video camera, a tree and the front of his house yesterday to capture this remarkably beautiful "pinhole" video of the annular eclipse.

Knoll, visual effects supervisor on various Star Wars, Star Trek and Pirates of the Caribbean movies, as well as a co-developer of Adobe Photoshop, explains in the video description: "A tree in my front yard casts eclipse-shaped pinhole projections onto the front of my house during the May 20th 2012 annular eclipse. The tree is acting as a thousand pinhole cameras imaging the crescent sun onto the house."

Phil Plait, who writes the Bad Astronomy blog, flagged the video this morning.

(2012’s 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries)

A commenter on Plait's blog provides more detail on the visual effect: "Just a bit of clarification on how the pinhole camera effect through the trees works. ... The small holes do not act like a lens, focusing the image of the sun. That is, light is not refracted or bent when passing through the hole as would happen with a lens. (That's the part that is confusing.) Instead, it is more correct to say the small holes act like a pinhole camera, projecting an image of the sun. (Projecting is not necessarily focusing.) Of course you then have to explain a pinhole camera. But it gets rid of some wording that can give a false impression to the novice."

Here's the Wikipedia page on pinhole cameras.

And a commenter on YouTube sums up Knoll's video quite nicely: "This is way better than the two-pieces-of-paper version that we did."

Welcome regulars and passersby. Here are a few more recent buzzblog items. And, if you’d like to receive Buzzblog via e-mail newsletter, here’s where to sign up. You can follow me on Twitter here and on Google+ here.

Editors' Picks
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies