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Hubble 3D Review: A Gift From NASA to Us

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Hubble 3D is a pretty simple movie. It's also one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen in my life.

Hubble 3D was shot over several years by three different NASA flight crews, documenting both the launch and subsequent repairs of the Hubble Space Telescope. The repair footage is interesting, especially to a space geek, but it's not anything you haven't seen before. (Albeit not on a six-story IMAX screen and in 3D.) But it serves as a framework for two rendered space sequences that are stunning—they brought tears to my eyes more than once.


These sections are rendered from Hubble data that was wedded to spectral analysis and other techniques that allowed artists to create an extremely high fidelity 3D model of astronomical objects like nebulae and galaxies. Director Toni Myers manages to keep the narrative structure fairly simple and let the footage and rendered fly-throughs of Hubble photography speak for itself.

Because these sequences are "real"—or at least as real as we can make them without having another Hubble trillions of light years away from Earth showing us the back sides of same objects—there is a tremendous gravitas. I dare anyone to watch the sequence of Orion's "star nursery" as it calves solar systems and not feel a tremendous affinity for our own.


We've become used to Hubble's imagery over the last couple of decades, sort of, you know, getting over being able to see into the end (or beginning) of the universe. Hubble 3D reminded me how precious our space program is and how just straight-up ass-kicking the astronauts and engineers who work at NASA really are. Hubble 3D feels like a gift from all of them to us.

For more on the IMAX rigs behind Hubble 3D, see the camera here and some behind-the-scenes astronaut rehearsal here. [Hubble3D]