Back in October, we found out RED's EPIC DRAGON was going to space.
The 6K digital cinema camera has been in space for a number of months now, and NASA has begun uploading some of this 4K footage to their YouTube channel (in 4K, of course). Here is just the first taste of some of the fantastic images that astronauts on the International Space Station will be capturing for months and years to come:
The camera reached the International Space Station back in January:
The fifth SpaceX cargo resupply mission delivered this camera to the orbiting laboratory in January 2015. The camera's ability to record at a high resolution as well as up to 300 frames per second made it the ideal recording device to capture dynamic events like vehicle operations near the station, such as docking and undocking. The higher resolution images and higher frame rate videos can reveal more information when used on science investigations, giving researchers a valuable new tool aboard the space station.
And here's the newest clip that was just uploaded:
More from NASA about the clip and their goals:
In the video [above], astronaut Terry Virts extracts a floating ball of water, into which he inserts an effervescent tablet to watch it dissolve and release gasses in mid-air. Rodney Grubbs, program manager for NASA's Imagery Experts Program at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, says the footage itself is dynamic for its subject matter, and the detailed, high-resolution makes it especially riveting.
"This is a huge leap in camera technology for spaceflight," Grubbs said. "These cameras have large sensors capable of very high resolution imaging at high frame rates. It is like having a high speed 35MM motion picture film camera, but it is compact, can use lenses we already have up there, and it is digital. No film to return to Earth."
The RED camera is the same model used to record theatrical releases such as The Hobbit trilogy and television programs. Ultra-HD televisions capable of receiving and displaying 4K transmissions are now sold in stores.
While the 4K resolutions are optimal for showing on movie screens, NASA video editors are working on space station footage for public viewing on YouTube. You will be able to watch high-resolution footage from inside and outside the orbiting laboratory right on your computer screen. You will need a screen capable of displaying 4K resolution for the full effect, but the imagery still trumps that of standard cameras. RED videos and pictures are shot at a higher fidelity and then down-converted, meaning much more information is captured in the images, which results in higher-quality playback, even if you don't have a 4K screen.
These are not the first 4K digital cinema cameras to make it to space, as Canon has sent up at least one C500, though I imagine the all-internal RAW recording and the high frame rates of the DRAGON are slightly better suited for NASA's purposes. Since NASA has been using Nikon DSLRs on the ISS for some time, they've already got compatible lenses for the camera. It would not be surprising if RED is already working with NASA to try to get their new 8K camera up on the ISS at some point, which uses a full-frame (Vista Vision) 35mm sensor to deliver the same image quality as the 6K camera, but with higher resolution.