Monday, October 18, 2010

Contact Light Previews Now Available

Last updated 2013/10/03. This project is now being continued at

Hello, I'm Paolo Attivissimo, Swiss-Italian-British science journalist and space enthusiast.

Thanks to the donations of hundreds of enthusiasts from all over the world, I'm proud to present my short documentary Contact Light, which features the complete, uncut, restored color film shot from Apollo 11's lunar module during the minutes leading up to mankind's first landing on the Moon in July 1969, synchronized with the color film shot in Mission Control, also restored to full clarity and with synchronized sound.

To the best of my knowledge, Contact Light is the first documentary to show this Mission Control footage with synchronized sound in such detail and in real time, as it happened.

Finally, we can see Flight Director Gene Kranz poll his controllers for their final "Go/No Go" for that historic landing in 1969 and report the decision to land to Charlie Duke. We can see Duke relay that "Go" to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as they descend to the Moon in their fragile vehicle. Subtitles allow to understand the words of the astronauts, often garbled by interference.

We can see Charlie Duke's emotional reactions, for example when radio contact with the Lunar Module is lost, and hear the roar of sheer joy of the controllers in Mission Control when Armstrong announces that "the Eagle has landed", shortly after Buzz Aldrin has reported that the warning light that indicates contact with the lunar surface has lit. Aldrin's words are the first spoken on the Moon: he says "Contact light" (hence the title of the documentary).

We can now see all this in its original colors and quality, instead of the grainy, faded copies of previous documentaries that used low-quality, multiple-generation copies of the original footage. Contact Light uses fresh digital transfers of the original films, produced by Footagevault. You can find more information about the Mission Control audio synchronization in this article published by the Guardian, which explains the painstaking work done by Stephen Slater to match the footage with the audio recordings.

Latest version of Contact Light

Contact Light is now a chapter of a broader documentary entitled Moonscape, which covers the landing and moonwalk of Apollo 11. Here's the latest version of Contact Light. Enjoy.

First Preview (2010/10/10)

Contact Light is nearly complete. The final version will include the onboard audio from the LM and the complete Mission Control audio loop. A professional speaker will provide an explanatory voice-over. Once finished, Contact Light will be available for free download and distribution, with no watermarks or copy protection, in high definition, under a Creative Commons license. Previews will be published as work progresses.

Contact Light would not exist without the work of the many people who have donated their technical skills or their music, without the help of NASA veterans who provided the audio tracks and expert consulting, and without the donations of many space enthusiasts, whose names will be listed in the credits. Buying these digital transfers is understandably rather expensive: the cost just for the footage for Contact Light is almost 2200 euros.

If you like this project and want more, I'm working on Moonscape, a full-length feature which covers Apollo 11's moonwalk with the same technique based on restored and synchronized footage: you can click on the Donate button below to make a donation that will allow me to acquire more footage and support material. Like Contact Light, Moonscape is available for free download and distribution.

NOTE: Delivery of a Fundraiser Preview DVD of Contact Light by mail has been discontinued due to persistent mail reliability problems. If you requested the DVD and haven't received it, please let me know and I will refund your donation.

If you have any questions, contact me via e-mail at paolo.attivissimo at in English or Italian.

Technical notes for Contact Light

The camera inside the Lunar Module was tilted sideways and down, so its footage has been rotated to compensate. In this way, you get to see the lunar horizon more like Armstrong and Aldrin saw it. The footage is shown at its actual speed of six frames per second.

These early previews lack several features that will be added gradually:
  • the voice of a narrator who will explain the details of what's going out, without overlapping the voices of the astronauts or of Mission Control;
  • full subtitles for all communications;
  • the onboard audio;
  • the full flight controller audio from Mission Control;
  • a lunar map indicating the position of the Lunar Module.

The final version will be translated into all languages for which volunteers provide a translation and voice-over audio.

Thank you for the comments and feedback at and Karl Sackett.

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