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Astronauts as filmmakers in the making of Hubble 3D

by Julie Brown

Take a look at this incredible photograph taken by Hubble’s Space Telescope - and imagine it rendered in 3D on the world’s biggest screen using proprietary IMAX digital remastering technology! It’s nothing short of breathtaking. Guaranteed.

But that’s only half the story. All the footage of the spacewalks and the scenes of astronauts inside the Space Shuttle were filmed by the astronauts themselves. As director Toni Myers comments, astronauts are fast learners, so they very quickly became adept IMAX 3D cinematographers in space. Their unique footage beautifully captures the delicate and dangerous work of repairing the Hubble Space Telescope, and gives us as cinema audiences a truly unique “you are there” feeling.

The experience of looking back at earth from the vantage point of space is a “gift given to astronauts” as described by astronaut Mike Massimino in the film. While space travel is not something most of us will experience, the gift is certainly one that can be shared at IMAX in Hubble 3D.

Image from Hubble 3D

The sharpest view of the Orion nebula captured by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. © 2010 Warner Bros. Courtesy of NASA, ESA, M.Robberto (Space Science Telescope Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team.

Underwater filming for Hubble 3D

April 2009 – Underwater Cinematographer Howard Hall (Under The Sea 3D) moves the IMAX® 3D camera in its waterproof housing to film STS-125 astronauts Michael (left) and Michael Good (right) as they rehearse Hubble Space Telescope repairs in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. STS-125 astronauts operated an IMAX 3D camera on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis to capture the final Hubble Space Telescope repair mission which is included in the upcoming IMAX 3D film Hubble 3D. © 2010 Warner Bros. Courtesy of NASA.

The IMAX 3D camera used in Hubble 3D

The massive IMAX® 3D Cargo Bay camera, which holds 1800 metres of film, is prepared for installation on the Orbital Replacement Unit Carrier (ORUC) at the Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland. Footage shot with the IMAX 3D camera onboard STS-125 is included in Hubble 3D. © 2010 Warner Bros. Courtesy of NASA.

Loading the camera

May 2009 – Atop the launch tower at the Kennedy Space Center, looking down at the Space Shuttle Atlantis, Director of Photography/Astronaut Trainer James Neihouse (far right) and crew members place the IMAX® 3D camera in its fireproof housing to film the launch of STS-125. Footage from the launch (filmed with a total of five IMAX cameras) is featured in the newest IMAX 3D film, Hubble 3D. © 2010 Warner Bros.

IMAX filmmakers with NASA astronauts

July 14, 2009 – STS-125 astronauts and Hubble 3D filmmakers gather around the IMAX® 3D Cargo Bay Camera display at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ “Astronaut as Filmmaker” event at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, CA. This is the actual camera flown on board Space Shuttle Atlantis to capture the final servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope. From left to right: Commander Scott D. Altman, Producer/Director Toni Myers, Mission Specialist Michael T. Good, Mission Specialist Michael J. Massimino, Mission Specialist Andrew J. Feustel, Pilot Gregory C. Johnson, Mission Specialist John M. Grunsfeld and Director of Photography/Astronaut Trainer James Neihouse. Photo credit: Matt Petit / ©A.M.P.A.S.

IMAX's longstanding partnership with NASA has enabled millions of people to travel into space through a series of award-winning IMAX films that have cumulatively grossed more than $500 million worldwide. The IMAX 3D camera made its first voyage into space in 2001 for the production of Space Station 3D, narrated by Tom Cruise, which has grossed more than $100 million worldwide. The Hubble 3D film will mark Warner Bros. Pictures' first venture into space. Hubble 3D, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, reunites the Space Station 3D filmmaking team, led by Producer/Director Toni Myers. James Neihouse, Director of Photography, is also the Astronaut crew trainer, Judy Carroll is Associate Producer, and Graeme Ferguson, Co-founder of IMAX and pioneer Producer of many IMAX space films, is Executive Producer.


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