Some people who think they have seen this movie may have only seen the original "rough sketch" made in 1968. Both the rough sketch and the final version (1977) are triumphs of visual communication, conveying more information in nine minutes than most science courses convey in an entire year. The movie stands up to the test of time admirably, and it's unfortunate that is not better known now. Although it is commercially available, it seems to be considered an educational, rather than mainstream, movie. It does not appear to be available from either Blockbuster or Netflix.
With the advent of modern computer graphics, making movies like Powers of Ten that explore the universe at unfamiliar scales of size and time should be easier than ever. What follows is a short list of "pitches" for such movies.
History. While Powers of Ten uses logarithms to emphasize spatial scales, much could be accomplished by applying them to chronological scales as well. Imagine a movie that is rooted to a single area on Earth, showing how it has changed over time. Using powers of ten, we have the following rough epochs:
- Present - 1 year ago: "Now."
- 1 - 10 years ago: Current events.
- 10 - 100 years ago: Modern history.
- 100 - 1000 years ago: History since the Dark Ages.
- 1000 - 10,000 years ago: Early history of man.
- 10,000 - 100,000 years ago: Prehistory of man.
- 100,000 - 1,000,000 years ago: Emergence of homo sapiens.
- 1,000,000 - 10,000,000 years ago: Descent of man from the apes.
- 10,000,000 - 100,000,000 years ago: Emergence of mammals.
- 100,000,000 - 1,000,000,000 years ago: Flourishing of multi-cellular life.
- 1,000,000,000 - 10,000,000,000 years ago: Creation of the Sun, then of Earth, and life on Earth
One could use the same idea across different ranges to cover different types of histories. For example, one might apply the powers of ten to seconds rather than years to cover the history of the last 100,000,000,000 seconds (3170 years).
Heading in the opposite direction, one could use logarithms to describe events that occur in less than a year. 0.1 of a year is about a month, while 0.01 of a year is a few days. Before long (no pun intended), one is in the realm of events photographed by Harold Edgerton, such as a bullet passing through an apple. Beyond that, one enters the time scale of a single chemical reaction, the decay of an unstable atomic particle, a computer clock cycle.
One could also use a different starting point to de-emphasize recent events. Imagine starting from the emergence of multi-cellular life about 600,000,000 years ago. Traveling forward, the entire history of man would fit into the last logarithmic "frame". Then, as in the original Powers of Ten, the movie would reverse direction and move backward from the emergence of multi-cellular life to the beginning of the solar system (or to the universe itself). This might provide a more "realistic" sense of mankind's place in history.
Evolution of life. Mixed time scales could also be used to illustrate more abstract concepts, such as the evolution of life on Earth. Consider that all life on Earth today shares a single common ancestor that lived about 3,600,000,000 years ago. Imagine a movie that animated the "family tree" of life starting from that single creature. After 3,000,000,000 years, the tree would be a large bush consisting solely of single-celled bacteria. Then a multi-cellular creature would "sprout" from the bush and burst into flower. 100,000,000 years later, the bush would still consist mostly of bacteria, but would also sport a trunk containing a branch of shelled organisms and one of jawed fish. After another 100,000,000 years, the bush would contain branches for land plants, insects, amphibians, and reptiles. Dinosaurs, mammals, and birds would appear in the tree, which would then suffer a major trauma 65,000,000 years ago as the dinosaurs and many other species go extinct.
Rendering the tree of life in three dimensions as it changes shape and structure over time could be an extremely powerful way of communicating the history of life on this planet. The camera could dart in and out of various areas of the tree to show important details as the time scale slowed down or sped up as needed. Like Powers of Ten, the resulting film would summarize a great deal of information in a very brief presentation.
Cellular mechanics. Powerful movies can also be made by adopting time and distance scales that are constant, although unfamiliar. For example, imagine a movie that animates the inner workings of a eukaryotic cell in three dimensions. The movie might start by showing the transcription of mRNA from nuclear DNA. The RNA would travel through the nuclear membrane to a ribosome where it is used to assemble a protein from a series of amino acids. Energy production from nearby mitochondria would be illustrated. Then the cell might start to divide, showing the process of DNA replication.
Such a movie might be particularly exciting if it illustrated a viral attack on the cell. A single viral phage could be shown attaching itself to the cell's outer membrane and injecting its payload into the cell. The payload would move to the nucleus and commandeer the transcription process. Before long, the cell's ribosomes are producing proteins which assemble copies of the original virus. Thousands of virus particles are produced, crowding the cell until it bursts open.
 Thanks to khallow for this idea.