NASA Shows Off Gorgeous 4K Space Footage Shot with the RED DRAGON Camera

NASA 6K RED EPIC DRAGON in Space - 4K Footage
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.      

Your Comment

14 Comments

The extra resolution makes the job of painting out the aliens much easier! hahah
I wish they put some high quality clips for download

July 27, 2015 at 9:39PM, Edited July 27, 9:39PM

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The alka-seltzer stuff was really cool. I wish they had trained the guy how to expose and focus properly though ;) If they want a trained cameraman to go up in space next time I will gladly volunteer!

July 27, 2015 at 10:05PM

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I think this was the wrong camera for the job sadly. The latitude is off, the lenses are doing it no favors and they don't know how to grade it. Someone in the US please send them a C300 Mk2 with an EF mount and some decent glass. Autofocus / ND Filters and excellent low light would seem to be a no brainer here.

How much did RED pay them to put that brick into space? And where will their be a red Dragon floating around as just another piece of space debris.

Hell send them up 5 Panasonic GH4s with tiny lenses, tiny memory needs, sharp image and easy to stick in corners etc and we could have some seriously cool footage.

Wrong tool NASA sorry. The content is awesome but the footage could have been acquired better.

July 28, 2015 at 12:18AM

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Claire McHardy
Cinematographer
402

Not a fan of RED then?

July 28, 2015 at 2:28AM

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or Nikon glass it seems.

July 28, 2015 at 7:15AM

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Bill Thomas
DP
234

Nikon glass.. pfft...Im a Canon Slave

July 28, 2015 at 11:50AM, Edited July 28, 11:51AM

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Claire McHardy
Cinematographer
402

RED Cameras... Love them. The RED ONE is the best door stop I've ever owned.

July 28, 2015 at 11:51AM, Edited July 28, 11:51AM

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Claire McHardy
Cinematographer
402

Hey Claire, let's stop bashing camera's or companies who make them...and no, I don't agree, the Red (being capable of recording raw) is probably a better tool than the other cameras you mention, as this video contains very high contrast footage requiring 12 stops of dynamic range or better.

July 28, 2015 at 10:17AM

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Erwin Hartsuiker
CineVideo-NL videographer
802

... Bash bash bash bash bash...

July 28, 2015 at 11:49AM

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Claire McHardy
Cinematographer
402

As they said themselves, one of the reasons they picked RED was for the very high frame rates (in addition to the size, lenses, etc.).

I'm sure they looked at their options and decided what was going to work best, considering they've already had Canon and Nikon cameras up there.

July 28, 2015 at 11:03AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department
5731

They currently have Canon C500s up there. They last a few months before the sensor is destroyed from radiation. Then they send the bodies and hard drives down. They have also converted the C500s to work with the old Canon batteries found in the old camcorder units. This was to save a lot of time and money because they would have to run tests to make sure the newer batteries wouldn't explode or have any other issues in space. So since the old Canon batteries were approved, they used them. Now all of this applies to the NASA IMAX footage. I'm not sure if that would ever be available like this in public domain but this all comes from the DoP that trains the astronauts, James Neihouse. All this to say, theres a lot more than what you think that goes into the thought process and choices for what cameras and gear go up there. I can't remember if they tested the GH4s but they ran hard tests on a lot of different cameras and some would not hold out long enough due to the radiation as others. So they chose Red and the C500.

July 29, 2015 at 1:28PM

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Zak Abitz
Video Producer
88

Question. Normally all of NASA's stuff is public domain. Is this video? Because that would be some awesome stock footage.

July 28, 2015 at 1:37AM, Edited July 28, 1:37AM

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Zachary Will
Cinematographer
970

It's totally public domain.

July 28, 2015 at 2:34AM

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That was awesome, but the most interesting thing was seeing regular condiments in space. Are they special bottles or have we gotten to the point where we can safely transport everyday products into orbit.

July 31, 2015 at 4:35PM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
954