We teamed up with Samsung with an enormous challenge: to launch an 8K camera into space and shoot full, uncompressed footage of the most incredible kind. Samsung's new range of 8K TVs were soon to go on sale and we were tasked with providing promotional material and 8K content to show off this next-generation display's clarity and quality.
Our engineering team were chomping at the bit to get stuck in with this technical feat. The harsh conditions of space provide a unique set of challenges. The temperatures drop as low as -60 degrees Celsius but without any air to cool electronic systems, overheating can still be a problem. It's a very delicate balance to provide consistent power and consistent cooling or heating as required. This is especially true when the camera you need to launch is a £35,000GBP RED Helium - two of them.
The Helium is equipped with onboard heat sinks and fans which keep the camera at an optimal temperature and stop it from overheating. During the testing phase, however, it became apparent that the lack of air at higher altitudes (6km upwards) rendered the fans increasingly ineffective and ultimately useless. In fact, these cameras have been carried to the summit of Mount Everest and failed to operate in the lack of air even at those relatively low heights. In temperatures as low as -60°C, we actually saw the camera overheat.
To combat this, we manufactured our own dual-action thermal control system, building our own water-cooled heat sink and strategically cycling power to the camera to keep it within operating range regardless of the pressure environment at different stages of the flight. This was only possible thanks to our years of previous experience optimising existing technology to function in the harsh environment of space.
In addition to all of this, we designed and manufactured our own custom stabilisation devices to reduce spin in the air and increase stability of the final shot, manufactured custom balloons to handle the flight systems, produced custom parachutes to return the craft safely to Earth - and we achieved all of this within a month along with all of the rigs, housings, power management systems and other technical components required for the flight. We used our testing phase for a number of component launches into the Stratosphere, but also to make sure that the final shot would be perfect in other ways, determining optimal exposure settings depending on the launch conditions we would see.
We launched two flights, one at midday and one in the evening to generate two distinct sets of content. The images speak for themselves and are the highest resolution video footage ever taken from Near Space. We chose a Zeiss CP.3 XD lens for a wide-angle perspective, to help extract extra data and correct for any distortion of the footage following the launch. We used a remote shutter to film 10 minute sections of the flight, capturing 50 minutes of 8K footage between 19km and 35km - the maximum possible with the highest camera settings available with a 1TB SSD. We even filmed a full behind the scenes for the project in 4K to document this historic achievement. We're extremely proud of what our engineers can achieve and this was a monumental undertaking, with a full team effort, right down to delivering our carefully selected video edits to the client. We're also super excited to see what the next challenge brings! What have you got for us?