If there’s ever been a day for fully throwing yourself into the cosmic, the day of the solar eclipse is it. Millions of people took a break today to look at the sky through improvised optical devices, for a glimpse of something transcendent.

Alberta experimental filmmaker Scott Portingale created his own handmade cosmos for his 2015 short, Infinitude. Impressively, every element of the film is captured under camera, using a mix of practical effects, long exposures, stop-motion animation, fluid dynamics and more. That used to be the only way to put together a stellar sequence (CG wasn’t around to help with the Star Gate sequence in 2001, say) but it has become increasingly rare, even though it’s still to my mind the most evocative way of depicting deep space.

Portingale’s film is all about the emergence of complex matter, the birth of the universe as we know it. But beyond the subject matter, it’s a stunning voyage—and one that’s made even better by watching how he pieced it together.

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