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Sending Shakespeare's Portrait into Space with inVerse

Writer William Shakespeare is arguably among the most well-known people to have lived. With his words known the world over, what better way to celebrate him than by going out of this world?

Shakespeare Folio400 portrait in space

inVerse Films came to us to send an engraved portrait of Shakespeare over 100,000 feet above the Earth for their film 'Lovers and Madmen', directed by Jack Jewers and narrated by Tom Baker. The film is part of a series by Jewers that looks to address significant milestones and events using Shakespeare's works, such as the COVID pandemic and space exploration.

The launch was part of Folio400 celebrations that commemorate 400 years since the publication of Shakespeare's First Folio, and the films aim to explore the relevance of Shakespeare's work four centuries later.

The Folio, a collection containing all of Shakespeare's plays — without which, half of his plays would likely be lost — was compiled by peers after his death. Folio400 celebrations began on the 8th of November, involving programming from the BBC, The Folio Society, and AMC, among others.

As the film's title suggests, 'Lovers and Madmen' features a speech from Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's Dream' — a small copy of which was included with the portrait on the launch.

The making of Shakespeare's Folio400 space portrait

Sent Into Space team member designing the laser engraved Folio400 Shakespeare portrait using software on a computer screen

In order to prepare the portrait for engraving, our engineering team processed the portrait and turned it into an image made up of black, grey, and white layers. Each layer was then laser-engraved onto a separate piece of acrylic to create a 3D portrait encased in glass.

Laser cutter engraving the Folio400 Shakespeare portrait that travelled into space

In layering a black and white image, though, we faced a challenge — the engraved portrait had to be visible against both the background of Earth and the blackness of space.

Folio400 Shakespeare space portriat mounted to its Sent Into Space spacecraft  with an engineer looking at it

Our team created a few variations on the portrait to perfect this balance and achieve a breathtaking visual of Shakespeare's portrait floating high above the Earth in space.

Launching Shakespeare's portrait into space

Folio400 Shakespeare portrait mounted to spacecraft before launch

We designed and built a bespoke spacecraft that would carry the Shakespeare portrait on its journey to space and back, keeping it secure and at the perfect angle for the film. The craft was attached to a modified stratospheric balloon and launched from our specialist launch site in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, where it travelled to altitudes over 100,000 feet and came back down to land just South of the North Yorkshire Moors.

It was great being a part of this project — you can see the film below.

If you're interested in a space launch of your own, get in touch with our team to discuss your idea further.


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