NASA’s Apollo 1 Tribute & The Milo Motion Control Rig

Project Undertaken by Robot Studios

Robot Studios is a 34,000 square foot turn-key studio facility located just north of Miami. It’s the only studio in the world to have an in-house BOLT High-Speed Cinebot, Milo Motion Control System, Super Technocrane 30’, Scorpio 23’ Telescopic Camera Crane & a 13’ automotive turntable. It has the largest Cyclorama stage on the east coast, a commercial kitchen for food shoots, a home interior film set & two other full-size cyclorama stages.

A Mission From Nasa

Brian Karr, President of Rockledge Design Group, Inc. and former Lead Engineer of NASA’s Advanced Imaging Lab during the Space Shuttle Program, called Robot Studios with a unique requirement”

“Is it possible to start wide on a zoom, dolly the camera diagonally about 50 foot, while seamlessly pushing in tight on the lens, to land perfectly square on a target about 12 x 14 inches and hold still on it for 15 seconds, then boom up & around a column about 12 feet? Oh… And the camera needs to be on its side the whole time!”

The shot itself was not only extremely difficult, but it fitted into a much bigger story – a tribute to the legendary astronauts of the Apollo 1 mission. After considering the variables, Russell Fogle, Founder and President of Robot Studios answered in short:”

“Yes you can, with a Milo Motion Control Rig”

THE SOLUTION

During testing of the Apollo 1 capsule at Launch Complex 34, an accident occurred resulting in the subsequent tragic loss of 3 astronauts – Gus Grissom, Ed White II and Roger Chaffee. With a planned opening on the 50th anniversary of the accident, a tribute was to be built to honour these amazing individuals.  Robot Studios realized it was to be part of one of the most poignant and meaningful stories of all time – one that had taken place nearly 50 years prior – America’s race to put a man on the moon.

Russell tells the story of the shoot below, along with its inherent challenges

“It was an amazing feeling for us to be able to contribute to this very important tribute and to solve a very difficult shot. I can’t think of any other way that you could’ve achieved this, without using the Milo. Handheld stabilizer systems would have never allowed you to land perfectly square and focused, and stay completely locked on this small target, then boom up 12 feet. A Technocrane with a stabilized head may have gotten the height at the end, but you can’t telescope 50 foot. Even on track you still can’t land perfectly square on a target after that much travel and hold it perfectly still. Our Milo Motion Control System really was the only solution and certainly made it a reality.”

Mission Accomplished

On January 27th 2017, 50 years to the day of the accident, the press gathered at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s Saturn V Center for NASA’s formal announcement and opening of the Apollo 1 Tribute exhibit titled “Ad Astra Per Aspera – A Rough Road Leads to the Stars”.

The shot done with the Milo Motion Control System now plays on a perpetual loop, within the Apollo 1 Exhibit, on the Ultra High Definition monitor entitled: Launch Complex 34 Then and Now

The Single Shot

This single shot starts wide, showing how the remaining launch pedestal looks today, and then pushes in, filling the vertical screen perfectly square – displaying the plaque that’s dedicated to the three brave men that perished in America’s quest to reach the moon. Then the camera booms up and around a column, to finish looking through the massive rocket thrust port and into the heavens.

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