On July 20th, 1969, a 5-year-old boy living in Caldwell, Idaho stayed up past his
bedtime to watch a very grainy television transmission of Neil Armstrong’s first steps
on the moon, which cemented an interest in space that has lasted over the decades.
Since that time, I’ve watched coverage of countless space missions, but until I got
access to NASA TV a couple
of years ago, I only got what the networks wanted to show me (not that NASA TV is
particularly good – you would get better production values from a high school AV class.
NASA continues to make a huge mistake in not doing decent programming). Networks often
miss the interesting stuff, and with the exception of a few specials, few people have
seen the the archival footage that lurks in NASA’s vaults.
Spacecraft films was founded
to solve that problem. They have spent time going through tons of footage from the
Apollo 11 mission, and have produced Apollo
11: Men on the Moon, a 3 DVD set with over 10 hours of content. I have yet
to watch all the content, but they’ve taken a very innovative approach. For the launch,
you can watch simultaneous views from 5 different tracking cameras, synchronized with
the audio. For the touchdown, there is the single video taken from the LM, but with
4 different choices for audio. You can listen to CAPCOM talk to the astronauts, or
you can listen to flight director Gene Kranz (author of the excellent Failure
is not an option) as he talks to his flight controllers, as they work through
computer problems during the landing, or you can listen to all of them at once in
a 5.1DD mix (though the multichannel is marred by one very noisy channel). During
Armstrong and Aldrin’s moonwalk, they’ve overlaid the TV video with a one-per-second
16mm film, and the excellent 70mm still camera shots.
If you’re a space buff, you need this set.