“Hollywood’s got lost in dystopian fiction,” Darren Aronofsky said a few days after the premiere of his “Postcard from Earth” at The Sphere in Las Vegas.

The film — a gorgeously photographed history of the planet being recounted to slowly awakening space travelers as an explanation for how they ended up here — is far from the usual cinematic exercise in the destruction of humanity and Earth. Here, humans make the choice to leave Earth and colonize other plants in an attempt to let the planet heal itself, a concept in keeping with the commitment of Aronofsky and his production company, Protozoa Pictures, to tell stories dreaming of a better future.

“There’s amazing people doing amazing things, thinking about amazing solutions,” Aronofsky said. “And I think as storytellers, it’s important for us to lean into some of these futures. They don’t have to be perfect futures, but they’re futures where there’s hope. The framing device in ‘Postcard from Earth’ is deep, deep future, but at least it’s an idea that’s pointing to something where people got their shit together and save the planet.”

If “Postcard from Earth” was a sizzle reel for investors, the natural world’s protection would be fully funded within hours (actually, that’s not a bad idea: Can Vegas host the Republican convention and offer free tickets to every lawmaker?). And though the concept was always there from the time Aronofsky took the assignment, the specifics were in flux — up until the October 6 premiere.

“We actually were kind of shooting blind because the Sphere itself did not turn on the screen until August,” Aronofsky said. “So we had no idea what this would feel like or look like.” Instead, the director and his team (which included editor Jennifer Lame and cinematographer Matthew Libatique) made do with 4k headsets (“nowhere near the quality that you need to understand what was going on in the shot”) and Madison Square Garden Entertainment’s Big Dome, a fourth the size of the Sphere in Burbank.

But even that couldn’t prepare them for seeing the 18k footage they’d captured across the globe with a camera and lens so powerful that even a speck of dust could mar the shot. Even armed with some knowledge, the filmmakers weren’t prepared for the quirks of such a new camera. A shot involving a helicopter was thought to be an easy fix: remove the blades in post. But the camera’s sensitivity meant that the sunlight passing through the chopper’s blades would make the whole image flicker.

“[The camera] was literally coming off the assembly line,” Aronofsky said of the filmmaking process. “Often it took 12 people just to turn it on. It was outputting 32 gigs per second. So it has a huge hard drive wired to it. [And] the lens was very unwieldy because it’s a 270-degree lens. So it’s an incredible piece of glass, [but] it’s a very hard piece of machinery to work with. And it became clear that we were going to be limited in how to move the camera to give some type of propulsion. But we were really careful not to give anyone vertigo or make anyone nauseous.”

Shot from Darren Aronofsky film Postcard from Earth at Las Vegas The Sphere
“Postcard from Earth”Meg Meyer/Sphere Entertainment

The end result is a 50-minute combination of film and Vegas attraction that takes viewers from the Grand Canyon to close-ups of a praying mantis that no one in the history of the world has ever seen rendered with such clarity. And not just see — a sequence in a Parma, Italy, opera house includes a solo violinist whose performance is rendered in such minute detail, thanks to the immersive sound powered by Holoplot, that one can hear her fingers on the strings.

The whole project is breaking new ground in terms of technological capabilities — which throws the future life of “Postcard from Earth” into question.

“People have been like, ‘Oh, when is it coming to Brooklyn?’ I’m like, ‘Uh, it’s not coming to Brooklyn for a while,’” Aronofsky said. “It was made with Vegas in mind. It was made thinking about people spending their time in a casino and taking them to the rest of the world and showing it in a way that would really move them. We hope! Once The Sphere moves on to its next production, this will just be a lot of data sitting in a corner collecting dust. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will play elsewhere, but who knows? There’s new technologies. And maybe eventually it could show up on some of these headsets that are starting to show up.”

In the meantime, anyone eager to experience what cutting-edge filmmaking technology can do is able to book The Sphere Experience for “Postcard from Earth” — though afterward, mere IMAX might pale in comparison.

The Sphere Experience with Darren Aronofsky’s “Postcard from Earth” plays several times a day every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Tickets start at $49 — but expect to pay upwards of $89 per ticket.

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