IMAX: Hubble 3D

by Jay Kerr on March 18, 2010 · 3 comments

in Documentaries

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



Spacehamster March 25, 2010 at 3:33 am

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.

Jay Kerr March 25, 2010 at 9:27 am

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.

Spacehamster March 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm

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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