NASA Astronauts Team with Hollywood Communities for VR Shoot Aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour
NASA astronauts have joined hands with members of the Hollywood and Silicon Valley communities to conduct an unprecedented virtual reality shoot aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center in Exposition Park.
NASA Astronauts Conduct VR Shoot Aboard Space Shuttle
The VR shoot included interiors of Endeavour’s flight deck and the Spacehab module as well as shoots of NASA astronauts Dan Bursch, Drew Feustel, Michael Finke, Kenneth Ham, Kay Hire, Sandra Magnus, and Steven Swanson, the people who simulated in orbit procedures as though the Endeavour was still in flight.
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The NASA astronauts were also interviewed with 4K 2D cameras about the shuttle, and the VR material and 2D cameras were used to record some of the fuel tank’s move through the streets.
At first, some of the footage is expected to be made available as experiences to those with VR headsets at home and in classrooms. Some of the material will also become part of the exhibits at the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Centre, a $250 million facility scheduled to be opened in 2018. The center will house Endeavour, the ET-94 fuel tank, and rocket boosters in launch configuration, and the filmed interviews of the astronauts will be used by the California Science Center for exhibits and other uses.
“The number one question we’re asked is, ‘What does space feel like?’ The idea behind the shoot is to create a product where people can have a VR experience in the orbiter,” Ken Phillips, curator for aerospace sciences at the California Science Center said.
Space enthusiasts are thrilled by the shoot. “Incredible! It’s hard to express,” American entrepreneur and VR enthusiast Palmer Luckey enthused, trying to find the words to describe how he felt of being inside Endeavour.
The NASA astronauts are emotional about the shoot. Hire, who flew one of her missions in Endeavour, said, “It’s very nostalgic; this was our transportation, our home, and the accomplishment of thousands of people. I really hope this inspires students and sparks their imaginations.”
Many children from multiple class trips were also present during the shoot, adding to its energy level and overall excitement. They asked many questions and posed for several pictures with the astronauts.
“The hope is to get [kids] excited about space and the future. With VR, we can put everyone in the Shuttle,” Luckey said. “I’m a huge space enthusiast. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid, before realizing my poor vision and large stature made it unlikely that I’d be picked. But I remain very interested in space.”
The shoot was part of a larger effort to document the arrival and impact of Endeavour, in conjunction with a core team that includes VFX Academy Award winners Ben Grossmann and Alex Henning.
Oculus, represented by Oculus Future Media’s Amaresh Kollipara, and Nokia, which provided two of its OZO 3D VR cameras for the production, were also involved in the shoot. Sony also provided 4K cameras and Quixote Studios’ Star Verde vehicle followed the fuel tank to provide a base for the crew.
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