American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 14

Left: The time-lapse sequences were taken from the Cupola, the primary observatory aboard the ISS, visible at the top of this frame. Above: A Russian Soyuz vehicle is docked to the ISS, which makes a pass from South Africa to southern Pakistan. The bright lights of Johannesburg are visible, as are lightning storms (far left).

primary observatory module. The Cupola’s seven borosilicate windows are arranged in a hexagonal dome, with six sides and a circular porthole looking directly down at the Earth. A Nikon D3S was chosen for most of the photography because of its light sensitivity. At night, the ISO was usually set to 12,800, half of the camera’s maximum. After some experimentation, the team decided a shutter speed of 1 second and aperture of f/2.8 did the best job of capturing the undulating glow of Aurora Australis and the constellations of dense urban sprawl. During the day, the ISO was dropped to 200, the shutter speed was increased to 1⁄640, and the aperture stopped down to f/11. (The astronauts also used the Nikon D2XS for daytime photography.) When Garan assembled his first time-lapse sequence, from Europe to the Indian Ocean, “it blew my mind to be able to see all the stars and the constellations moving in the background,” he says. His fellow crewmembers, particularly Mike Fossum, were likewise inspired to experiment with the cameras. “Mike has since
14 February 2012

elevated time-lapse photography from space into an art form,” notes Garan. When the first images were sent to Johnson Space Center, they caused quite a stir. “The cameras’ sensitivity is so high that the photos capture subtle lighting and shadow details that are invisible to the unaided astronaut’s eye,” says Willoughby. The Crew Earth Observations team adds descriptive captions to the images and determines the images’ geographic location and look-angle metadata, then adds that to the metadata generated by the camera. The images immediately caught the eye of Melissa Dawson, an earth scientist with the Crew Earth Observations team. “I decided to use Adobe Flash to produce these short films,” she says. “Everyone was so ecstatic about it. It’s a whole new way to see the world.” The astronauts initially captured images at 5 fps, but the sequences often flew by too quickly when Dawson — who transitioned into working with Adobe AfterEffects — played them back at speeds fast enough to render smooth motion. A shooting speed of 3 fps and playback rate of 12 fps were eventually agreed upon, but “when you watch the videos, they’re still moving faster than the ISS is actually traveling,” notes Dawson. Garan and Fossum had a variety of lenses at their disposal, including Nikkor 14American Cinematographer

24mm, 17-35mm and 28-70mm lenses. Garan spent much of his downtime angling for the best camera position and focal lengths. He found that a wide, horizonoriented angle was best for capturing motion and provided the best view of the Earth’s curvature. “Some things that aren’t readily apparent in the still photographs are visible in the videos,” says Runco. “Auroras are one of the first things that jumped out to me. You actually get a sense of how fluid and dynamic they are. Their motion and the way they change shape are really amazing.” The video “Progress 42P Re-entering Earth’s Atmosphere” provides another example. In the clip, the Earth rotates toward the bottom of the frame as the sun begins to crest the horizon. In the center of the frame, a comet-like object ignites as it de-orbits. “If it were just a still image, you wouldn’t be able to see anything moving through the shot,” she notes. With every tweak of the process, more and more data is revealed to the cameramen. “We’ve recently observed airglow, a phenomenon wherein the molecules in Earth’s atmosphere are stimulated by ultraviolet rays during the day,” says Will Stefanov, chief scientist for contractor Jacobs Technology and contributor to the Crew Earth Observations team’s work. “During the night, those molecules give off



American Cinematographer - February 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - February 2012

American Cinematographer - February 2012
Contents
Editor’s Note
President’s Desk
Short Takes: NASA time-lapse footage of Earth
Production Slate: Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseAct of Valor
Saving the Whales
High Stakes
A Very Bad Cop
Cinema, Italian Style
Filmmakers’ Forum: Hiro Narita, ASC
New Products & Services
International Marketplace
Classified Ads
Ad Index
Clubhouse News
ASC Close-Up: Roberto Schaefer
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - American Cinematographer - February 2012
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 1
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 2
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Contents
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 4
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 5
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 6
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 7
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Editor’s Note
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 9
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - President’s Desk
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 11
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Short Takes: NASA time-lapse footage of Earth
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 13
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 14
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 15
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 16
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 17
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Production Slate: Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseAct of Valor
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 19
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 20
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 21
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 22
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 23
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 24
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 25
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 26
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 27
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 28
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 29
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Saving the Whales
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 31
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 32
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 33
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 34
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 35
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 36
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 37
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 38
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 39
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 40
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 41
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - High Stakes
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 43
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 44
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 45
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 46
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 47
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 48
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 49
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 50
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 51
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 52
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 53
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - A Very Bad Cop
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 55
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 56
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 57
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 58
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 59
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 60
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 61
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Cinema, Italian Style
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 63
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 64
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 65
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 66
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 67
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 68
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 69
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 70
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 71
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Filmmakers’ Forum: Hiro Narita, ASC
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 73
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 74
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 75
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - New Products & Services
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 77
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 78
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 79
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 80
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 81
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - International Marketplace
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Classified Ads
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Ad Index
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 85
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Clubhouse News
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 87
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - ASC Close-Up: Roberto Schaefer
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Cover4
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