July 16, 2009

NASA Releases Restored Apollo 11 Video at the Newseum

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WASHINGTON — To mark the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11’s historic walk on the moon, NASA released newly restored video of the historic feat at a press conference July 16 at the Newseum.

Four scenes — of Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong descending the lunar module to take the first steps on the moon; lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin taking his first lunar steps; Armstrong reading the plaque left on the moon; and the astronauts raising the flag on the moon — showed the comparison of the original grainy images and the new improved versions.

After an extensive three-year global search for the original footage — a search that included Stan Lebar, one of the designers of the camera used to record the images on the moon — NASA discovered that the tapes had most likely been permanently erased and recycled to record other data.

The restored images were culled from a variety of sources, including CBS News Archives, tapes recorded from NASA facilities in Sydney, Australia, and NASA kinescopes that had not been viewed for 36 years.

Richard Nafzger, a NASA engineer who oversaw TV processing at the ground tracking sites during Apollo 11, said the new images were a partial restoration and were the digital enhancement of the best available TV footage from July 1969. The final results will be released in September.

Lowry Digital, a Burbank, Calif., company that has restored more than 400 classic films, including "Casablanca" and "Star Wars," was contracted by NASA to restore the footage. The company has a history with NASA — its founder, John Lowry, invented technology called "video noise reduction" that was applied to the Apollo 16 and 17 missions.

Mike Inchalik, Lowry’s president, called the enhancement project "a bit of closure for us." Inchalik said the technology used to enhance the footage "puts quality of the image first."

Inchalik and Nafzger dismissed concerns that Lowry’s Hollywood connection would fuel conspiracy theories.

"We’re a restoration house," Inchalik said. "We’re very careful in what we fix and what not to fix. We’re being extremely cautious."

Nafzger emphasized that the restored video were of images already viewed by the public and praised Lowry’s past relationship with NASA.

"This company is restoring historic video. There couldn’t be a more perfect match," he said.

Please check out more great content and details for Newseum's Apollo Anniversary.

For more information on the restoration scenes, visit www.nasa.gov.

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