See the award-winning, full-dome show “Tales of the Maya Skies” during a special presentation and behind-the-scenes talk-story with director Arne Jin An Wong at 7 p.m. Friday, April 5, at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s planetarium.
Known to be one of the most advanced and complex civilizations of the Old World, the Maya were noted for their remarkable knowledge and accomplishments in areas ranging from food, art, architecture, textiles and science.
“Tales of the Maya Skies” is an ingenious, creative animated film about the history and culture of the Yucatan’s ancient Maya people. It showcases their contributions to science, mathematics and astronomy and how it connected them to the universe.
As an added special component of this presentation, there will be a talk-story session with Wong, who will address the evolution of Mayan astronomy (from mythology to astrology and then to astronomy) and what we have learned from their successes and mistakes. He also will share how new technologies developed for the film’s production have advanced current archaeological exploration.
Wong’s fascinating experiences throughout the entire journey in directing this show include countless hours of research, in-depth interviews and awe-inspiring site visits. His captivating stories will provide the audience with a deeper, richer and more meaningful appreciation and understanding of the Maya culture and their Maya skies.
Born in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Wong moved to Hollywood in his early 20s to apprentice under veteran Disney and Warner Bros. animators. He started his own production company in 1978, “Tigerfly Studios,” and began producing and directing television commercials in Hollywood.
Wong’s first directing job working on a television series was for Stan Lee, owner of Marvel Productions, starting in 1976, directing “Spider-Man,” “GI Joe,” “Incredible Hulk,” “X-Men” and “Fantastic Four.” Later, he directed for Warner Bros. Animation, Walt Disney TV, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Nickelodeon.
His most prestigious work in this field was to develop “Dora the Explorer” for Nickelodeon Cartoons. Wong developed the visual design and animation samples on Dora, and created the visual style that helped make this show so successful in the United States, Europe and China.
Other shows he directed include “Dark Wing Duck”(Disney TV), “Tiny Toons” (Warner Bros./Spielberg) and “Catdog”(Nickelodeon).
In addition to his work on TV series, Wong worked on feature animated films including “Tron,” “Heavy Metal,” “Tom and Jerry: The Movie” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”
In 2009, he directed and served as art director on “Tales of the Maya Skies,” which won awards in Germany at the 2010 Full Dome Summit Conference.
Wong and his wife moved to South Kona in 2016. He continues to teach animation and art at community art centers and public schools on the island. He presently is involved in working on his own graphic novel and children’s coloring books.
Sharing Hawaii’s legacy of exploration, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center is a world-class center for informal science education located on the University of Hawaii at Hilo campus.
Its centerpiece is a 12,000-square-foot exhibit hall, showcasing science and Hawaiian culture as parallel journeys of human exploration guided by the light of the stars.
The visitor experience is amplified with presentations using ‘Imiloa’s full-dome planetarium and 9 acres of native landscape gardens.
‘Imiloa is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, at the UH-Hilo Science and Technology Park.
For more information, visit www.ImiloaHawaii.org or call 932-8901.