Footage of Moon Landing (July 20, 1969) on the Mend

Moon Video

Photo source: AP Photo/NASA TV

AP science writer, Seth Borenstein wrote a story about how “studio wizards” are in the process of creating a new digitally refurbished version of the original moon landing video using four scrounged copies from 1969.  Apparently, NASA admitted that it must have erased the 45 tapes of the Apollo 11 moon footage years ago so that it could reuse them. Doooooh!!!

Fortunately, in time for the 40th anniversary of the famous “one giant leap for mankind,” a Hollywood film restoration company has been able to put together an upgraded version for a mere $230,000. The improvements are in “four snippets”:

  • Armstrong walking down the ladder
  • Buzz Aldrin following him
  • The two astronauts reading a plaque they left on the moon
  • The planting of the flag on the lunar surface

Parts of the NASA restored video can be found here.

Planting of the flag? We’ve seen it thousands of times!


For many of us, the mentioning of the moon landing triggers the sights and sounds of MTV’s “Top of the Hour” ID.

A story (The Creation of an Icon: MTV) appearing in Animation World Network (January 1998) discussed how that ID came to be. Candy Kugel wrote:

“Unfortunately, the NASA footage left a lot to be desired. It was shot on 16mm, very high contrast and in reality, pretty colorless. The takes took forever, unlike the snappy timing we could do with gags. Therefore, we were forced to piece it together from a couple of different moon walks.

Neil Lawrence and I cut a blow-up dupe of the footage together, timed to the MTV theme music. This time through there was also footage of Houston and tons of computer screens into which we could mat the logo. The palette had to change with the function of the live-action, plus the sky was too black, we needed to break it up with sparkling stars. The rest of the high-contrast, out-of-focus footage had to be delineated in a way that the action could be read and could be fun. Magenta was added to aqua as the color of the astronauts’ uniforms. Orange seemed an apt color for the surface of the moon and we enhanced the rockets’ red flare.”

So in both cases, the process was tedious. But thanks to the efforts of these craftspeople,  we have visuals that will resonate for generations to come.

[Photo source: AP Photo/NASA TV]

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  1. peter gladue says:

    I posted my Apollo 11 story on my Facebook page, I also asked if Major Matt mason was still on the Moon waiting for us to return. I didn’t get any response from that, I think that my Facebook friends have no idea who major Matt Mason is..,

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