When I was a kid, watching Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon was somewhat of a guess, since that grainy, black and white video image made him look more like a ghost than being live from the moon. But NASA has been using upgrading their imaging capability, by first using the RED Dragon 6K cameras for documenting life on board the International Space Station, and now they’ve gone 8K thanks to a RED Helium. I can’t wait for this camera to go to Mars!
Earlier this year we flew an 8K version of the Red digital cinema camera. We started getting shots downlinked over the past few weeks. Fantastic job of shooting by our astronauts. Being part of another “first” in space keeps me motivated to keep pushing the state of the art for imaging in space. Rodney Grubbs of NASA.”
The RED Helium was delivered to the ISS on board the 14th SpaceX resupply mission last Spring, as part of an ongoing partnership between NASA and RED to update the space station’s camera array as needed.
This isn’t the first time RED has gone into the Final Frontier with their cameras. As stated above, the Dragon 6K camera platform was launched to the ISS back in 2014, and the 5K RED Gemini with an extremely low light sensor that Land called “A vVampire for light,” was believed to have been developed for the space agency last winter, though some have speculated it was built for SpaceX since its announcement came shortly after the now iconic Starman mission.
Regardless of who the Gemini is made for, the 5k low light beast is now available for anyone. Plus one thing is certain, when it comes to shooting in space, RED has more experience at it since Hasselblad was the camera of choice during the Apollo program.
But what’s interesting is not that NASA opted to upgrade to 8K, everyone is who can, will, sooner or later. But considering the bandwidth that would be required to send the video back down for processing on earth is what I find intriguing. NASA is still using the original Deep Space Network built during the 60s, which has been steadily upgraded over time. So it’s clear that the space agency can now beam back footage at the highest resolution, and that’s very exciting.
With 8K source material, even if it ends up ultimately being downscaled to 4K, the footage will be even more detailed. And when it comes to spaceflight, details are always going to be paramount.
Check out the video below:
Note: You can watch a full 4K version of the video here.
“This new footage showcases the story of human spaceflight in more vivid detail than ever before,” said Dylan Mathis, communications manager for the International Space Station Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “The world of camera technology continues to progress, and seeing our planet in high fidelity is always welcome. We’re excited to see what imagery comes down in the future.”
Grubbs also praised RED for being up for sending their gear in space for use in the most challenging conditions. “Any time we hit him with a crazy idea for doing something new in space imaging, he’s all-in,” Grubbs said.
And as NewsShooter put it, the nice thing about zero-G is, that you don’t need a Steadicam to get a smooth shot.