Videos these days are edited for a microscopic attention span. I’d love to see some statistics on the average time between cuts, but it must be getting shorter. A good example of this is videos of rock concerts. There are so many cameras for the video editor to draw from: cameras on stage, cameras on booms, cameras in the rafters, walking steadicams, crowdcams, guitar cams. As a result, we get whipped from camera to camera with neck-snapping speed. If you have, let us say, a particular interest in Eric Clapton’s finger work during the solo, you’re out of luck. You might get a few precious seconds of guitar closeup, but then it’s time for the Dramamine again.
I don’t object to kaleidoscopic spectacle on principle, but there are times when it’s really nice to sit and focus on exactly one thing. Here’s a spectacular example of that. This is a slow-motion film (500 frames/second!) of the very bottom of the Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket as it takes off on July 16, 1969. I’m betting that on multiple occasions you’ve seen one or two seconds of this video. But you’ve never seen the whole thing. Watch it. It features some high quality commentary from Mark Gray of Spacecraft Films.
That’s the real damn deal right there. Those massive hold-down arms clamp the rocket to the ground, and when they let go, they’re the last earthly object to kiss it goodbye. I’m a certified space geek, but I learned a lot watching this. I didn’t know about the flammable ablative paint on the pad equipment, and I had always wondered about the dark skirt of flame that stretches several yards below the nozzle’s yawning bell. Now I know. Mindful, stable video with expert commentary. Yum.
Since I’m on the topic, here’s your Apollo bonus link: Andrew Chaikin, author of A Man on the Moon, tells us something new about Apollo 13. Which do you prefer for your corpse: a cold eternal orbit or the fiery dispatch of a collision with your home planet?