2010/11/15

Moonscape: Status, Concept and FAQ (English)

Latest update: 2013/12/29.

Moonscape is a free and freely downloadable high-definition documentary about the first manned Moon landing.

Funded and produced by space enthusiasts from all over the world, it shows the full, unedited Apollo 11 landing and moonwalk, using only the original TV and film footage and the original photographs, rescanned and restored from the best available sources, with full English and Italian subtitles (other languages will follow).

A trimmed-down version, showing the highlights of the moonwalk, will also be produced from the same source material.

Moonscape will be accompanied by a freely downloadable book, which will explain in detail what the astronauts are doing.

The latest version of Moonscape
is available for viewing here.

Moonscape is an ongoing, expanding project made possible by the donations and hard work of many people. If you like what you see and you want to help the project (and have your name in the end credits as a sponsor), please make a donation or offer your technical skills. There's still lots more work to do.






Status


2013/12/29: Lots of tidying up of details: subtitles, multi-screen layouts, animations, captions. New transfers of the 16-mm color film have been included, solving the blurred-edge problem. Footage has been stabilized to compensate for camera movements. A short featurette, Restorations and rescans, has been produced to show a few examples of the image quality improvements offered by this project.

2013/02/18: The English and Italian editions of the Moonscape videos on Vimeo are now in full HD (1920x1080) instead of the previous 1280x720. The Italian version of the Contact Light chapter (Allunaggio) now includes the LM onboard audio with its subtitles.

2013/02/05: The landing sequence (Contact Light) now includes the onboard audio with its subtitles.

2012/12/30: Full-resolution (1920x1080), fully subtitled, complete downloads of Moonscape, now including Contact Light (the landing sequence), are available in English and Italian here.

2012/07/25: The full-length English version 1.0 is now online in medium-resolution streaming here.

2012/07/20: Version 1.0 (English) is ready, including main title and end credits, and will debut tomorrow at an exhibition in Verrone, Italy. My paid Vimeo account is maxed out until next week, so it will take a couple more days to post all the high-definition videos, but the main title and end credits are online.

2012/06/06: The full documentary (approximately 210 minutes), minus main title and end credits, is now available as a rough cut preview.

2012/04/13: The first 55 minutes are now available as a rough cut preview.

2012/03/03: English subtitling of the entire EVA and post-EVA broadcast has been completed.

2011/12/22: The first 17 minutes of Moonscape, covering Neil Armstrong's descent and first step, are available now as a rough cut preview.

2011/07/20: The original release date of July 2011 has been pushed back, mainly because NASA still hasn't yet released an official, complete and broadcast-quality version of the restored Apollo 11 TV footage which it announced and partially released in 2009. This is holding up Moonscape considerably, but we're trying to work around the problem.

2010/07/20: The very first trailer (in Italian) has been published for the 41st anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.


Concept


Moonscape allows you to experience the landing and the moonwalk through the eyes of the astronauts. Photographs that were taken in sequence are assembled into panoramic views; the TV and color film footage is shown in sync with the radio communications and with the photos, allowing you to see rare and unusual details of the historic event from multiple viewpoints and with unprecedented clarity by using the best available scans and transfers of the original material.

Most documentaries during the past forty years have used footage whose quality was degraded by multiple analog transfers: Moonscape instead gets as close as possible to the sharpness and richness of the original images.

With the help of donations from space enthusiasts all over the world, we're purchasing the amazing restored and retransferred 16mm footage of the moonwalk from Footagevault.com, the same source used by documentaries such as In The Shadow of the Moon. The photographs have been sourced from NASA's GAPE (Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, eol.jsc.nasa.gov) with a resolution of 4400 x 4600 pixels. The complete restored TV broadcast is also included, courtesy of Bill Wood, Lowry Digital and Ed Von Renouard. All the astronauts' communications are subtitled for clarity as a complement to the Air to Ground audio kindly provided by Colin MacKellar of Honeysuckle Creek. Stephen Slater's amazing audio sync work provides the Mission Control coverage.

Differently from many other documentaries, Moonscape doesn't “cheat” by using footage taken out of context or from other Apollo flights for dramatic purposes. Every picture and every sound is original and true to the actual sequence of events, as documented by NASA's Apollo Lunar Surface Journal (courtesy of Eric Jones). The only special effects allowed are image cropping and stabilization, where needed, color correction and digital image stitching to generate high-definition panoramic views from the photographs.

Moonscape is freely available for download at no cost, with no copyright restrictions except those provided by its Creative Commons license: basically, you'll be free to copy it to any medium, as long as you give credit to the authors. Yes, this kind of distribution is legal.

Moonscape is a free documentary, but making it doesn't come cheap. We're all devoting our time to this project for free, but buying the HD digital transfers is a big expense (several thousand euros/dollars) but it allows us to have the rights to distribute these documentaries for free. And then there's the video editing software and hardware. So if you feel like donating some money, no matter how little, to this project, you're most welcome: click on the Paypal link above and specify what name, nickname or company name you want to have in the end credits of Moonscape.

You're also welcome to contribute with work: we need graphics, subtitling, proofreading, fact-checking, translations, music and professional voice-overs (in multiple languages for international distribution), for example. If you have any of these skills and are willing to contribute to the project, have a look at this task list and contact me, Paolo Attivissimo, in English or Italian at paolo.attivissimo@gmail.com.


Moonscape FAQ


1. When will it be ready? That depends on what you mean by “ready”. There's a full-length English and Italian edition already online right now, but Moonscape is an ongoing project; updated versions will be released as additional material and improved scans and transfers of the TV broadcast, of the 16mm footage and of the Hasselblad photographs become available. This is a slow process. For example, the correct (blur-free) transfer of the 16mm color footage of Apollo 11's moonwalk only arrived in July 2010. And NASA hasn't yet released officially the final and full restoration of the TV broadcast, so we're working with an unofficial copy of the restoration (a high-quality 50-GB file). Also, editing and subtitling are time-consuming, and we're all working on the project in our spare time. So please be patient.

2. Is it, or will it be, available in my language? Yes, if we can find volunteers to translate its subtitles and an offscreen narrator for your language. The English and Italian editions, for which we already have translators, are ready; other languages will follow. If you can help, contact us at paolo.attivissimo@gmail.com.

3. What format(s) are available? The high-definition version is available in streaming and is also downloadable at no cost as a set of video files playable on any modern computer and on most TVs and media players.

4. Is it copy-protected? Absolutely not. Our aim is to disseminate the completed documentary as widely as possible.

5. Will that huge “moonscape.info” logo always clutter the screen? No. The large watermark was only in the early rough cuts to distinguish them from the final version. Current versions have a small, semitransparent logo in one corner of the screen to allow people to know where Moonscape comes from and where to get its updates.

6. I can't download a huge file, can you distribute it by mail? No, sorry. Right now we have no time to manage mail distribution. But you can copy Moonscape legally from anyone who has downloaded it.

7. Is it possible to see Moonscape grow? Yes. Updates are published periodically here to allow anyone to check and review the work and offer suggestions and criticism.

8. Will it be possible to disable the subtitles? Currently Moonscape has hardcoded subtitles for maximum compatibility. A subtitle-free version will be distributed at a later date, once the project has reached a good level of completion. If you're willing to prepare a separate subtitle file in any language, please let us know.

9. Does it deal with the so-called “moon hoax” theory? Only very briefly. Simply viewing this footage, in its restored original quality, should be enough to dispel any fakery theories from the mind of any reasonable person. Moonscape is intended to celebrate courage and ingenuity, not to debunk doubters and lunatics.

10. How long will the fundraising last? Indefinitely. If funds permit, we will update Moonscape whenever new restored material becomes available to buy. For example, new higher-resolution scans of the Apollo photographs are expected to be released, and future Moon probes are expected provide fresh images of the Apollo landing sites. Some of these new releases have already happened: for example, new digital transfers of the 16mm footage were made available in 2010 and purchased to correct the edge blurring problems of the previous transfers.

11. How's the fundraising going? How have you spent the money? Who are the donors, and how many are they? So far, quite well: we've got enough funds to buy nearly all the currently available Apollo 11 footage HD transfers. But we still need funds for any future footage that might become available and for future documentaries that will cover the other Apollo missions. We'd like to get the astronauts themselves to do some commentary, too, and that might entail a fee. Details are available here.

12. How much money are you making out of this? None so far. Actually, we've spent quite a lot of time and technical resources on the project. Some of us have invested their own money in technical reference books and other reference material. Our reward is the fact that we have become proud owners of full, unedited HD transfers of the 16-mm Moon landing footage and of lots of reference books and we have the pleasure of telling and sharing an amazing true story. Any unused donations and any money from TV rights or the like will be reinvested for future projects. We're in this because we're enthusiasts, not for the money.

13. Is this project sponsored by NASA? No, although NASA's official endorsement and help would be most welcome (we haven't asked for it yet). A few people who work(ed) at NASA are giving us a hand informally with the technical references and fact-checking, but we're not funded in any way by NASA or any other agency. A private, commercial or government sponsor would be very welcome, on condition that it does not entail restricting the free distribution of Moonscape in any way.

14. What copyright license is being used? The Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 license. In a nutshell, Moonscape is freely distributable, but anyone distributing it is required to mention the authors and is legally prohibited from turning it into a commercial product and from making derivative works without our explicit permission.

15. I represent a TV station or a DVD/Blu-ray distribution company. Can I broadcast/distribute Moonscape? Yes, provided that you don't demand an exclusive contract, that you broadcast/distribute Moonscape (fully or partially) so as to include the licensing and free distribution notes, make a reasonable donation (the amount you would pay for similar footage from a commercial source, for example) and don't slap any copyright restrictions on Moonscape, which is, and shall remain, always freely distributable.

16. Is it legal to distribute this NASA footage for free? Yes, provided that it is part of a new creative work. Footagevault's FAQs and NASA's copyright rules are quite clear: NASA material is rights-free and the version restored by Footagevault, once purchased, is free to use "in all media throughout the known Universe".

17. You're kidding. What does Footagevault say, exactly? This: "7. Can I reuse the material I have paid for ? You are free to use the material you acquire from us as many times as you like. Once it is downloaded you are free to keep it and re-use it in future projects in all media throughout the known Universe. We only charge for the handling and delivery. If you need to download it again within a week you are free to do this. If you have then deleted the media and need it again for a future project you will need to pay our download fees again."

18. Can't you post the raw restored footage online? That's doubtful. Footagevault's terms speak of "use... in future projects", and this can be construed as prohibiting any posting of raw footage, which would not be a creative project.

19. Who's “we”? I'm Paolo Attivissimo, British-Swiss-Italian science journalist and longtime space enthusiast. Gen'xha worked on the movie poster that you can see above, but we're open to additional proposals. Photographer Andrea Tedeschi is in charge of photograph restoration and color correction. Rodri and Elena Albertini are managing the accounting. Fozzillo is handling the digitally rendered panoramic shots. Giancarlo dalla Chiara is providing the music. The veterans of Project Apollo are lending their superb technical skills and hands-on experience. Viviana and Andrea have donated a fantastic bound copy of the Apollo manuals, which are essential for describing the missions.

20. What music are you using? Apart from the music of the trailers, offered by Giancarlo dalla Chiara, no final music selection has been made. We're looking for something that will evoke a sense of the magic, wonder and danger of the voyage and of the Moon. Send us samples of your suggestions (music that you've heard or composed). Please bear in mind that it must be freely distributable music.

21. Who will be the narrator? That depends partly on the budget and on the final structure of the documentary. It will certainly be a professional speaker in the final version. If the funds are sufficient, we'll hire a well-known voice actor.

22. Why are you using the Futura font? Because it's a beautiful font and it's a double homage: to Stanley Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey and to NASA, which used it as its standard font for all the lettering on the Apollo vehicle consoles.

23. What's the video format of the Footagevault files? They're compressed with the DVC PRO HD 1080 codec, which some players and editors can't read (Final Cut Express HD can't read them, but Final Cut Pro does). VLC versions from 1.01 onward read these files correctly.

24. Great! How can I help? By donating funds via Paypal (click the donation button shown above) or by working on the project. As mentioned above, we're looking for someone who can lend a hand with graphics, subtitling, proofreading, fact-checking, translations, music and professional voice-overs. We also need people to spread the word, so if you have a blog, website, newspaper, magazine or TV station that deals with space news, tell your readers and viewers about Moonscape.

10 comments:

  1. It's 20-7-2011 No moonscape project to see, no rough cut to see, no update to see.
    Does the moonscape project still exists ? Why asking for donations when there's nothing to see?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Akoni,

    As I said in the FAQ, NASA hasn't yet released officially the final and full restoration of the TV broadcast. That is one of the main reasons for the delay.

    I am working around this problem, but it takes time and requires a big re-edit of the documentary. But be sure that "Moonscape" is coming.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Looking forward, glad the project is still alive!
    Will certainly donate after seeing the demo !
    Thanks for the update!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Looking forward to see the first previews around Christmas 2011 !
    If they are there, i will certainly donate for the final project!
    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Most promising preview to see now!
    Just made my donation!
    Merry Christmas!

    Arthur Konings

    ReplyDelete
  6. and again it's July 20 ,i am curious, will it be released today?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Akoni,

    the full-length preview of the movie has already been published. Right now, I'm working on the main title and end credits sequences, which will be ready by Monday.

    From this point on, it's just a matter of adding more and more details (pans, Mission Control audio loops) and improved scans as they become available. There are also some photo assignment issues that need to be confirmed with the good people of the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.

    But the basic structure is ready.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sorry, but i have to say, i can't see the fun in watching a preview with a watermark in it, or is there a watermark free version to see?
    Like probably many others i look forward to see a new expected release date.
    Good luck with finishing the project!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Akoni,

    the new version is now fully online and the watermark is much smaller and hopefully less irritating :-)

    ReplyDelete

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