Dana Berry is not your everyday computer graphics artist/ animator. He’s been around since digital imaging was in its infancy. Clutching a bachelor’s degree in fine art with coursework in astronomy and a newly minted MFA in film production, Berry landed his first big job as a digital artist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in the late 1980s, where he helped establish the Astronomy Visualization Laboratory for NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. His beautifully rendered images and animations have been used continuously by NASA to help educate the public and the media about space science for the past 25 years. His illustrations have appeared on the covers of numerous magazines, including Discover, Astronomy, Sky and Telescope, Nature, the New York Times, and, most recently, National Geographic Magazine. His work uniquely parlays his expertise in visual imaging and art direction, with an adoration of all things scientific, particularly astronomy.
A milestone in Berry’s career came when he was tapped to create new animated content for the restored 25th Anniversary Edition of Carl Sagan’s original Cosmos series. Later, he developed, created, produced, wrote, and directed three original documentary specials for the National Geographic Channel, including Hubble’s Amazing Universe, the Emmy Award-Nominated Alien Earths, and its sequel, Finding the Next Earth.
Berry currently works as a freelance producer, director, and artist, and most recently was hired by NASA to create art and animations for its latest LADEE Moon Mission. Insofar as the space program has evolved over the time span of Berry’s career, so have computer graphics. When he entered the field, Berry’s tools were centered around an SGI Iris 3130, a machine the size of a refrigerator. Today, Berry utilizes a more powerful desktop computer with Autodesk Maya software at the core of his 3D graphics pipeline. But Maya is more than a software tool for Berry – from the warped edge of a massive black hole, to the very frontiers of time and space, Maya has been Berry’s main portal to the universe.