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#374250 - 10/02/2024 22:51 The Moonwalkers: Apollo audio/visual experience extravaganza
carpal tunnel

Registered: 10/06/1999
Posts: 5914
Loc: Wivenhoe, Essex, UK
Eryl and I went to see The Moonwalkers today. It is described as an “immersive digital experience” and is a 52 minute concise history of the Apollo lunar program.

It is really great: technically impressive, beautiful visuals/sound and massively up-lifting. It was co-written and narrated by the ever Apollo-adjacent Tom Hanks.

I teared up several times, the footage of the lunar module ascent stage from the command module as it climbs towards rendezvous really got me in particular.

If you have any interest in Apollo, get yourself to the Kings Cross (London, UK) and see it. It is on at a place called Lightroom, in a massive basement under one of the new buildings north of Kings Cross.

Tickets are from £25 for adults, it is on until some date in June 2024. It is very child friendly, against all odds the kids running around marvelling at the massive visuals actually added to the experience.

(links to more images at the end of the post)

It is basically a 52 minute documentary, but the way it is produced and projected makes it a whole other experience. The room it is in is about 50 x 30 metres, the walls are about 20 metres tall. They use all four walls and the floor to project onto. I think I counted 22 massive projectors in total (10 to project onto the floor, 4 each for the long side walls and 2 each for the front/back walls) and a beefy sound system.

A lot of the footage you will have seen before, but there was still plenty of it I’d never seen (lots of rover testing stuff for example). But even with the footage you have seen before, it is very different when they have the room to project all the relates footage at the same time. So for example during the launch you get to see at least a dozen angles from all the engineering cameras on the pad, as the four walls around you just explode into flames. That also works well when doing things like lifting off the moon, where you get to see all three cameras synced up. And for Kennedy’s speech at Rice, you feel like you are in the stadium.

There are also plenty of graphics done for the show, all lovingly created in the style of all those 1960s NASA procedures manuals. They beautifully mix together video and massive panoramic stills from the surface, it is the first time I’ve ever really grasped the scale of the places the later missions landed.

As part of the project they did digital remastering of some of the shots from the surface and they did look stunningly clear and detailed. They had some lovely prints in the gift shop wink

I couldn’t help thinking while watching/experiencing it that this is the sort of thing that would sell AR/VR headsets to non gamers. I do hope Apple sent an Apple Vision Pro to Mr Hanks…

(I must spend some time working out how to easily view my own panoramic images on my Valve Index)

It isn’t the most detailed of documentaries, they only have 52 minutes to cover the whole of Apollo. It doesn’t go into Gemini at all, doesn’t really talk about Apollo 13, it is really all about the landings. But then Mr Howard, Mr Grazer, Mr Hanks and Mr Bostick did deal with the rest fairly comprehensively with 15 hours of Apollo 13 and From the Earth to the Moon. Tom gets a little folksy at a couple of points, but I didn’t mind that.

Don’t read the wildly inaccurate Guardian “3 stars out of 5” review of it…

The seating is low padded bench style or you can just sit/lay on the floor, there were cushions scattered on the floor in the middle of the room. There were about 250 people in the room, but it didn’t feel crowded. They don’t discourage you from taking photos/video for personal use, and doing so felt comfortable and natural in a way that obviously wouldn’t in a cinema. It was all very relaxed.

If you go I recommend not sitting on the left hand side third of the room (there is a fair bit more footage shown on the left hand wall than the right and we were sat on the far left on our first viewing).

First viewing I hear you say ? Yes, just like an old timey cinema, once you’ve paid your money you can stay for as many showings as you like. We stayed for a second one and sat in a different spot for a quite different feel.

I plan to go back again at some point.

The technicals of the projection are very impressive. Even though some of the walls have four different projectors making up the image, I could not see the joins. And pixel density of the projected image is clearly a lot higher than cinema, I was sat three metres from the wall and I couldn’t see any pixels. And the projection join between the different surfaces was perfectly lined up.

I was puzzled as to why there were ten projectors dedicated to projecting onto the floor. I finally realised it is the audience. If you just had the minimum needed to cover the whole of floor there would be shadows everywhere, from people blocking the light. By doubling up the number of projectors they pretty much entirely eliminated shadows.

No doubt all this fancy projection tech is old hat to RobV wink

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Edited by andy (10/02/2024 22:53)
Remind me to change my signature to something more interesting someday

#374251 - 11/02/2024 03:18 Re: The Moonwalkers: Apollo audio/visual experience extravaganza [Re: andy]
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31534
Loc: Seattle, WA
This sounds awesome. I wonder if they're going to find a way to tour that experience to other locations other than the lightroom.
Tony Fabris

#374252 - 12/02/2024 10:26 Re: The Moonwalkers: Apollo audio/visual experience extravaganza [Re: andy]

Registered: 27/02/2004
Posts: 1892
Loc: London
My birthday soon, wonder if my daughters'll take me if I hint hard enough

#374253 - 12/02/2024 17:17 Re: The Moonwalkers: Apollo audio/visual experience extravaganza [Re: andy]

Registered: 25/04/2000
Posts: 1520
Loc: Arizona
That sounds amazing.

If it ends up being a traveling exhibit, I would definitely end up seeing it if it came closer to home.

Thanks for the write-up. I had no idea The Moonwalkers even existed.