Astronaut filmmaker speaks to SCA class

first_imgAstronaut and photographer Terry Virts visited a School of Cinematic Arts class focused on IMAX movie production Tuesday night to speak about his involvement in “A Beautiful Planet.” Photo by Yang Li | Daily TrojanCinematic Arts students filled up the seats in the Michelle and Kevin Douglas IMAX Theatre on Tuesday to listen to astronaut and photographer Terry Virts speak of his experiences as a cameraman for the IMAX film, A Beautiful Planet. Virts spoke to a class focused on IMAX production about how shots of the movie were taken at the Cupola, a seven-windowed observation room located on the side of the space station, so astronauts could get a panoramic view of Earth from 250 miles away.  “Working with IMAX was probably my favorite because we were able to share the story of space flight to many people,” Virts said. Virts took over 300,000 still photographs throughout this mission and had many of his captures turned into timelapses for the final production of the film.  After the film was released, A Beautiful Planet won Heartland Film’s 2016 Truly Moving Picture Award and was nominated for Motion Picture Sound Editors 2017 Golden Reel Award. Along with the images of the planet, the movie featured astronauts Virts, Anton Shkaplerov, Kjell Lindgren, Scott Kelly and Samantha Cristoforetti and the aspects of their daily lives in space, from showering to celebrating the holidays. “I have a deep interest in space travel and exploration, as well as in photography,” said Neil Banerjee, a senior majoring in cinematic arts and computational neuroscience. “Astronauts in general, both American and otherwise, are carrying out amazing and dangerous expeditions on behalf of humankind, so any chance to meet one in person is an easy ‘yes’ from me.” With clips of scenes and stills playing in the background, Virts spoke about the film processes utilized, the difficulties he faced in the foreign environment and his favorite scenes that he shot. “I never really thought about this, but sound is so important for a movie,” Virts said. “Have you ever watched a movie without sound or with sound only? Sound is what makes the movie. So I went around space with a camera and filmed the sound of the environment. I filmed the noises of the fan, the metals from the exercise machines, the crackly ghost sound of the radio … I wanted the audience to hear the unique sound of space.”Some of the challenges the team faced while shooting included amplifying the natural sound and having the perfect lighting for certain scenes. According to Virts, he had to use a metal tether that was attached to his space suit to transmit sound due to the lack of air in space,. He also explained how in space, lighting was always extreme because the shots were always too bright or too dark. Therefore, he ended up fixing this problem by utilizing the screen lighting from laptops. He also discussed how, although he took many candid shots to show the reality of space, Virts tried to stage some scenes to emphasize the 3-D effects of the film. For example, Virts filmed himself washing his hair so the audience could see the floating water droplets coming toward them in 3-D.Virts said that many of the shots and scenes were done with Ghost cameras, Panasonic 3-D cameras, Nikon D4s, Canon XF305s and Red Dragon video recording cameras. Along with the pictures of the devices, Canon provided replicas of the same cameras that were used on the ISS. These replicas were presented to the students, while Virts pointed out some of the features that he used while shooting, such as the shutter speed and aperture.“Listening to Terry opened up the possibility of exploring filmmaking in different and more extreme environments,” USC alumnus Fei Yu said. “Just having the knowledge of the techniques used in these new places like space will help my career path. The nature of his situation has really inspired me to look beyond the norm of filmmaking.”last_img

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