Radio Lab - What It's Like To Drop 150,000 Feet Straight Down
What It's Like To Drop 150,000 Feet Straight Down is an 8 minute video put together by NASA that takes the viewer on wild ride aboard rockets launching a space shuttle into outer space. I did another digital critique last week that also highlighted science in a creative way. I explained in that post that my father is a scientist, my brothers are engineers, and I am neither. Yet although I don't quite have the acumen for science and math, I definitely have a bit of fascination for the subjects - especially when those subjects are brought to my level.
This video caught my eye because my one older brother is an engineer for a company that puts rockets into space. In his line of work, year-long projects are meticulously planned with high level detail to send rockets into the great beyond...mostly to deploy satellites. This particular brother works on the control systems that guide the rockets into pre-calculated paths. The behind the scenes is certainly over my head but the end result is awe-inspiring spectacle. This video is a front row seat to the action. For this critique, I examine the story, media application, and content understanding:
The story is very simple. Strap some cameras onto rocket boosters and follow the launch of a space shuttle as it travels upward into the atmosphere at increasing speeds. The video takes you as far as the last booster releasing from the shuttle and plummeting back down to earth and into the ocean. As a front row spectator, you can text updates to various stages of the journey as well as access to the complete audio - from rockets firing, to metal groaning in outer space, to the sound of parachutes flapping and water splashing. Meanwhile, the view is updated on some statistics such as the time elapsed, speed, and description of what certain sounds are.
For NASA, preparing such a video tells the story of the incredible work that goes on in space exploration. In a way, it was a documentary because certain phases were narrated through text. However, the raw experience gives the viewer a realistic snapshot into how the project planning and meticulous math culminate into one awesome feat. Perhaps the story could have been enhanced slightly by incorporating a persona but really none was needed.
The video contained actual footage with real audio that gave the story a vivid and realistic feel that otherwise could not have been accomplished. Although, one bounces back and forth to different angles as rockets boosters are released, it is easy to follow the events that are taking place..with the help of the captioning. The best part of the video is the audio and hearing what it is like to be 28 miles straight up where barely a sound is audible.
As I mentioned previously, as a brief documentary, this video did not have a persona or live narrator so the view is left completely to the visual and captioning for understanding where they are in the journey and what is happening. I think more could have been done to help the viewer along and understand what is taking place and when but doing so may have taken away from the first hand experience - which I believe is the true message of the story.