Spacecraft Films, a publisher of DVDs on the history of space exploration, has now created new digital film-to-tape transfers of over a quarter-million feet of historical film documenting America's space history. As of December of 2004 the effort has resulted in the digital preservation of over 120 hours of material, primarily on NASA's manned space exploration history. As the first to distribute the Apollo moonwalks and onboard films on DVD, the Spacecraft Films line now constitutes the most complete record of space exploration available to the general public.
Working with the National Archives and Record Administration and several NASA centers, Spacecraft Films has accessed parts of the NASA footage library, making new, digital film-to-tape transfers. Digital copies remain behind, safely in the National Archives, and the resulting DVDs are commercially marketed. "The effort has been financed entirely through the support of our customers," said Mark Gray, Spacecraft Films founder. "Not only is the material now available widely, but it is newly preserved at the best quality possible. We're very proud our efforts are able to preserve material for future generations, all at no cost to government."
Spacecraft Films researches material at the National Archives, National Air and Space Museum, military holdings, NASA field centers, and private collections. In all cases the efforts result in a digital copy deposited with the agency of ownership. "From all of the Gemini onboard film to some rare Saturn V management reports that we transferred in high-definition, the new transfers bring the material alive," said Gray. "Most of the material you see on space was transferred in the 1960's and 1970's, and looks dull and with poor resolution, yet this is what most producers access when making material on space. Thankfully most of the material was shot on film, and today's telecine technology is so much more vibrant and crisp, allowing us to witness history in a whole new way."
The Spacecraft Films efforts have been widely viewed as the definitive collections of space footage. "The Apollo 15 set is outstanding. Spacecraft Films has really done a great job and a great service to all who remember that era," said Al Worden, who flew on Apollo 15 as Command Module Pilot, "Thanks to them for their interest and dedication to the ancient past."
"With a renewed commitment to exploration of the Moon and beyond, preserving and distributing the past achievements of Apollo can better help us take the next steps," says Gray. Much of the work has been completed at Bono Film and Video in Arlington, Virginia, with some occurring at Crawford Communications in Atlanta. The process involves making new transfers with color correction to a digital storage medium.