IMAX: Hubble 3D

IMAX: Hubble 3D

IMAX: Hubble 3D (Director: Toni Myers): I never get tired of space doc­u­ment­ar­ies, espe­cially when they’re as fas­cin­at­ing as Hubble 3D. The film’s breath­tak­ing IMAX foot­age com­bined with images from Hubble cre­ate a unique cine­matic exper­i­ence.

The Hubble Space Telescope was put into orbit in April 1990 and is the only tele­scope designed to be ser­viced by astro­nauts. In May 2009, NASA sent the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis to make vital repairs and upgrades to Hubble. Five space­walks were required and each of them was cap­tured by an IMAX 3D cam­era oper­ated by the astro­nauts.

Director of Photography James Neihouse trained the astro­nauts for 8 months in basic cine­ma­to­graphy and how to use the cum­ber­some IMAX 3D cam­eras (they weigh over 250 pounds each). A roll of IMAX film runs 5,000 feet, weighs 54 pounds and runs 8 minutes. With only one roll of film there was zero mar­gin for error.

During a Q&A ses­sion I asked Neihouse if he was happy with the cam­era work of the astro­nauts. He said he was “very pleased with the foot­age” and ended up using about 90% of it in the final film.

Aside from the space­walk foot­age, the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis is spec­tac­u­lar and puts the viewer right on the launch pad. We’ve all seen Shuttle launches before but not like this! The sound record­ing of the launch is also incred­ible and required quite a num­ber of micro­phones (sev­eral mics were incin­er­ated or blown try­ing to record the takeoff).

The thing that impressed me most about this film was the qual­ity of the images cap­tured by Hubble. Twenty years of Hubble data was used to cre­ate some incred­ible 3D visu­al­iz­a­tions of sev­eral galax­ies and solar sys­tems.

“This is star travel, you’re right out there mov­ing in space,” said dir­ector Toni Myers. The IMAX exper­i­ence really does make you feel like you’re float­ing in space. You quickly real­ize how small our planet and solar sys­tem is in the cos­mos. I was truly blown away.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s name is fea­tured prom­in­ently on the movie poster but his voi­ceover nar­ra­tion in the film is under­stated and works quite well. Director Toni Myers gets full marks for using Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s ver­sion of Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World in the soundtrack.

I should also men­tion that the I watched the IMAX ver­sion of the film at the Ontario Science Centre’s OMNIMAX® Theatre and not the IMAX 3D ver­sion of the film. The Ontario Science Centre has an IMAX Dome theatre that wraps around the viewer.

It was inter­est­ing to hear James Neihouse say that he enjoyed parts of the film more in an IMAX Dome theatre than the 3D ver­sion. I’m curi­ous to see what the 3D ver­sion of the film looks like.

IMAX: Hubble 3D opens in Toronto, Los Angeles, San Diego and Denver on March 19th.

Official site of the film


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3 Responses to IMAX: Hubble 3D

  1. Spacehamster says:

    wow sounds amaz­ing!
    I was just won­der­ing if we are able to watch the movie in IMAX and 3D any­where in toronto? Or is it it only avail­able at the Ontario Science Centre without 3D.

  2. Jay Kerr says:

    As far as I know it is only avail­able in Toronto in 2D at the Science Centre but it still looks pretty incred­ible on the dome screen. There are only a few IMAX 3D screens in Toronto and they seem to be more inter­ested in show­ing Alice in Wonderland. Check the offi­cial web­site for the film as this may change in the next few months.

  3. Spacehamster says:

    Thanks Jay for the info! I will have to check it out at the Science Centre and if it does make it’s way to other Imax 3D theat­ers, I’m quite sure it will be worth see­ing again any­way.

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