Apollo Missions Get Upgraded Video

July 20th marked the anniversary of the first human setting foot on the moon. If you were alive back then, you probably remember being glued to the TV watching the high-tech images of Armstrong taking that first step. But if you go back and watch the video today, it doesn’t look the way you remember it. We’ve been spoiled by high-density video with incredible frame rates. [Dutchsteammachine] has taken a great deal of old NASA footage and used their tools to update them to higher frame rates that look a lot better, as you can see below.

The original film from the moon landing ran between 12 frames per second and as low as 1 frame per second. The new video is interpolated to 24 frames per second. Some of the later Apollo mission film is jacked up to 60 frames per second. The results are great.

We can only hope that future missions will carry enough gear that we can all go via virtual reality. Honestly, when you think of the state of technology back in 1969, it is amazing we have video at all. Consider how the computers had to struggle to do simple trig functions. Some people think the moon landings didn’t have a lot of impacts here on Earth. But we think they’d be wrong.

31 thoughts on “Apollo Missions Get Upgraded Video

    1. Fantastic stuff. I find the Moon much more interesting than Mars. Buzz signed his Moon portrait in my High School year book. (And I was convinced I would have a job on the Moon by the time I was 35.)

      1. I was also sure that by now it would be a cinch to land a job in orbit or on the moon. 2001 didn’t seem like it had imagined enough if you looked at 1959-1969. Yet here we are…

        1. Who cares. It is 50 year old film. And even so the real miracle is they didn’t destroy it like ALL the data tapes and telemetry. There were a lot of spin offs (some incredible) but they cant even reproduce the Saturn 5 engines. That’s sad. Plus imagine the spimoffs wed have if we hadn’t wasted 30 years with the space greyhound.

      2. you would…. except that we keep spending all of our resources on blowing up people in other countries. the budget for NASA is literally a fraction of a fraction of a percent of our military budget. The bad part is, if we put all that money into research, we wouldn’t even need the damn oil or any other terrestrial resources, we could easily get an abundance of them from space.

    1. The originals were poor, because the technology was new. Converting from the slow-scan transmissions from the Moon to normal TV lost a lot of quality. This stuff is NOT TV it is film, which was shot on the Moon, and rarely seen since. At the time transferring film to TV lost some of the original quality. Now with HD scanners, and digital post-processing you can extract all the info that was on the film. Do you walk around looking at the world through the bottom of a beer bottle? Maybe you would prefer that!

      1. The quality issue is perhaps relating to the artificial smoothness caused by the extrapolated inserted frames. There is quite a lot of issues with the front right wheel on the moon buggy ride. Nice try but no cigar.

  1. Anyone know what is happening with the found video tapes of the original “Hi-def” transmissions? 2 inch tape I would assume and not NTSC encoding or any of that.

    1. Any 2″ video tape made by NASA at the time would have been NTSC. This is film, most of which has been in the archive and has now been re-transferred in HD. It is more than twice the definition of anything recorded on video tape 50 years ago. Recovering 50 year old VT is fraught with danger. First you would need a machine to play it on. Then you would have to cope with the binder in tape deteriorating and the oxide falling off! It can be done but only with extreme care and at huge cost. The best quality images from the time are the 35mm stills from the Hasselblads used by the astronauts. There is some 35mm film which was shot as time lapses, but most of the best stuff is the 16mm like this. If you can transfer the negative you get the best quality. Not all 16mm film from the 1960s has lasted, but I believe that Eastman made special stock for NASA that could cope with the extreme temperatures and this has lasted remarkably well. I find it very exiting seeing these new transfers. At the time I worked for the BBC as a TV Studio engineer, but everything we saw was on TV, so it had been converted from slow-scan TV from the Moon, to 525 NTSC, then to 625 PAL! And even worse, a lot of the archive that keeps being shown isn’t video tape from the time, it is archive on 35mm film! Shot of a TV monitor! That’s why until very recently all the archive looked so rubbish.

      The makers of the film “Apollo 11” found that there was 70mm footage of the launch but the negative had sat in the archive and nobody had ever looked at it!

      1. Maybe the 70mm footage of the launch was only taken to allow for analysis in the event that something went wrong? The launch went right, so there was no need to analyse the film.

  2. I recall what the original “live” images looked like, and for several reasons they were inferior to even the standard definition broadcast television of the time. Even the word “live” requires some questioning, since the distance involved resulted in considerable latency. Taking all of that, and more, into consideration, the newly restored and upgraded version is truly amazing. What I would really like to see would be both the original and the current version side-by-side on the same screen so that they may be accurately compared. I think that then, many of the doubters (many of whom were not even born yet) would be able to see for themselves the quality upgrade that is truly a technical achievement. It would be even better if someone who were involved with this work were able to explain, in layperson’s language, just what all that they did to improve these images, and how they did it.

    1. On the youtube page, it’s mentioned that the source of the Apollo 11 footage is 16mm film, which probably refers to the Maurer Data Acquisition Camera. If that’s the case, then it’s different from the live TV footage, which used the Apollo TV camera.

    2. IIRC, the original stream was received in Australia due to the orientation and timing. Due to reasons that currently escape me, they used a different video standard than the one they used in the US, so the stream was displayed on a TV screen in a lab, re-recorded with a camera incurring in conversion errors, and broadcasted live to the US. Simultaneously, the original stream was recorded for archival and later use, which explains later recordings available being significantly better than what the public saw on live TV.

      1. The tapes of the original were thought to have been all re-used by accident. The transmitted video was much higher quality than broadcast TV. Some time after about 2000 some tapes were found and someone was working on playback and error correction but I have not heard anything in quite a while. IIRC a guy who had worked at NASA had a bunch of them in his basement?

      2. The video camera on the Moon used a slow frame rate to reduce the up-link bandwidth. The nominal frame rate was 12fps, but it could go down to 1fps. Australia used 625 PAL, so they had to tape the down-link off a special monitor and record it in 625. This happened at the receiving site, and those tapes I believe were kept. The 625 signal was then converted to 525 NTSC and linked back to NASA. I believe that the slow-scan down-link was also linked back to NASA in the US, but there was no way to record it directly except by filming it off a monitor. That film is what has shown up in some documentaries, but due to lack of knowledge and some laziness, most people just used the tapes from the TV broadcasts instead. This used to be a regular practice in TV Docs. Back in the day I used to get very annoyed when editing a documentary, and I knew that there was good quality original film from the 60s or 70s, but they wouldn’t pay for a new transfer, so I had to use 3rd or 4th generation copies! I’m really glad that [Dutchsteammachine] has taken on this task so we can see what it really looked like. A real labour of love.

    1. When all of this started and to whom does it profit ?
      I mean, those crazy joke aka conspiracies (fake moon, flatearth) are put on the same height than JFK assassination, Iraq MDW or any other political/economical fishy events.

  3. Doubters – please watch the lunar regolith (top layer of dust) when it’s kicked or disturbed. Very cool trajectories of the dust particles, unimpeded by air (the stuff we have here on Earth)…

    1. I’d like to see your math on the “trajectories” but more importantly you’re saying it would be impossible to construct a room with no air pressure.

      Arguing a case badly is worse than not arguing at all.

          1. A sealed, evacuated rapid elevator large enough to drive a buggy around in while falling for several minutes at a time… it would make going to the moon look cheap.

  4. Denis Shiryaev’s channel has a similar tweening video of the Apollo 16 moon buggy, and less bouncy. Plus a lot more from much earlier eras. “Improving” & colorizing old footage is the latest trend, it seems.

  5. That bit where they’re in the lunar buggy driving back “home” and discussing the geology of the huge mountain on the freaking moon (!) like they’re driving around Grand Canyon Nat’l Park…

    Somehow the reality of that experience, transplanted to the moon, makes it seem surreal.

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