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  • Doug Cook

Apollo 11 documentary movie

This movie made me realize I have been seeing for 50 years is telecine – barely VHS quality 1970’s analog video.

Holy cow.  The original film prints show much more dynamic range, resolution and color quality with detailed digital restoration removal of  dust specs and film scratches.

Bonus – New footage never seen by the public until this movie.  Not 8 mm, 16 mm or 35 mm but IMAX quality 65 mm.    I’m not sure but I think the trailer from 0:40 to 0:57 contains a sample of this new footage.  This screen was made from the video trailer on YouTube.  The resolution in IMAX was way better.​

​Look at the billowing in the second vapor cone . There’s a smaller vapor cone near the command module. The American flags on the 1st stage are becoming obscured from frost developing as the oxygen vessels drained resulting in a flat matte appearance while the other stages show a gloss.

Another surprise for me was there was a second camera recording Armstrong’s first step onto the moon!  We see the “One small step for a man,” moment from this perspective from the window of the the lunar module in 16 mm film!  I was only familiar with the monochrome televised video feed – footage which was enhanced after the original was lost in NASA archives but a backup copy was discovered in an Australian downlink station site and restored in 2014.

It’s a documentary, so don’t expect “First Man” drama.  No narration, no interviews. It flows in a as it happens format with multi-screens covering simultaneous perspectives.  Backroom controller audio was restored as well.  We see a slice of America as it existed in 1969.  We see the visitors on the shoreline, the hair styles, the Coke can designs and the weird temporary visitor hats for sale  shading the Florida sun on that day in July.

About First Man, what’s with the camera shake during action scenes?  It’s as bad in that movie as lens flare was in JJ Abrams “Star Trek” reboot.  The archive camera operators for Apollo 11 were more disciplined in using tripods.

The landing of the first astronauts on the moon is a hallmark achievement of human history

The political environment, locked in a cold war competition,  stimulated the ambition to create this singular uniquely American demonstration of resolve and ingenuity.

There is a poetic nostalgia that I think we still crave to aspire and resume our exploration into space.  Apollo 11 was the zenith of that drive in the second half of the twentieth century.

The space program inspired a generation youth who would enter STEM related professions that advanced America beyond what can be counted on the spreadsheet of Apollo era technology spinoffs.

Apollo 11 documentary is Oscar worthy for its cinematography, editing and sound design.

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