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‘A Beautiful Planet’ Brings IMAX Filmmaking to Space Station

'A Beautiful Planet' marks IMAX’s first space film acquired digitally, shot primarily using Canon EOS C500 and EOS-1D C 4K cameras.

The IMAX documentary film A Beautiful Planet provides a unique high-resolution perspective of our planet from space. This latest project from filmmaker Toni Myers and IMAX Entertainment, produced in cooperation with NASA, was shot primarily using Canon EOS C500 and EOS-1D C 4K cameras from the cupola window of the International Space Station.

A Beautiful Planet marks IMAX’s first space film acquired digitally. The cameras, lenses, batteries and recording media were transported to the ISS on several SpaceX supply missions; on their return to Earth, the SpaceX craft carried 4K footage back to the filmmakers. Low-res dailies footage was transmitted to Earth via satellite.

NASA Commander Terry Virts takes his turn 

During a six-month mission at the ISS, NASA astronaut Terry Virts, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti from the European Space Agency and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov worked with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Butch Wilmore, Scott Kelly and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to capture footage of the Earth and life aboard the ISS with the Canon 4K cameras.

“When we’re taking a digital image up to an IMAX screen size, it requires a lot of data to make it look good,” explains the film’s cinematographer, James L. Neihouse, ASC. “We picked the Canon C500 to be our main cinema camera; we also chose the Canon 1D C.”

Notes Meyers, “Because it had that beautiful big sensor, [the Canon C500] was as close as we could get to nirvana.” She continues, “Both cameras were absolutely sensational. We were able to film things that no IMAX audience had ever seen before: lightning at night, stars in the sky.”

A Beautiful Planet is screening in IMAX and IMAX 3D theaters now.