A Grand View Of Mars In 3D As Seen By The Viking Mission
This shouldn’t be confused with the run of the mill sci-fi adventure movies that we have seen so much of by now. Nor is it just a documentary shoot with some generous dose of intricate computer generated 3D effects splashed onto it.
Rather, what the movie — ‘Mars in 3D‘ is all about is a glorious depiction of how the red planet looked all along since it became the cynosure of space scientists. Images used dates all the way back to the 70s that have been shot in stereoscopic format using widely spaced camera with the technology naturally being quite dated compared to what modern day space scientists have at their disposal. That is how the Viking 1 and Viking 2 space odysseys to Mars had been carried out and pictures taken by it sent back to earth. The movie “A historical look at Mars in 3D” gives us an insight to these pictures and one can see for their own sake the effect of these pictures that had been taken by the comparatively primitive technology of the times then.
The Viking Team at NASA who had conducted the Mars expedition had a member Elliot Levinthal. The movie contains a narration by this member along with the opening documentary that was prepared by NASA during the preparatory stages of the mission. While the narration is a bit heavy on the technical side, it still can be quite interesting. Images from orbit as well as those taken from the surface of Mars are also present in the film. The now famous canyons that we have read and heard so much of on the surface of Mars are quite evident in the film and the makers of the film have used images from a number of passes over the area to build the 3D picture. However, in spite of the best efforts on part of the developers, things are still a bit ragged given that shadows changed from pass to pass. Also, there is some difficulty is actually fusing the images by changing ones viewing angle and distance from screen. This may prove discomforting to some viewers.
The audio effect that comes with film is also of good standard, with its close similarity to the music in 2001: Space Odyssey which was scored by Stanley Kubrick. One particular scene which makes up for all the price that has to be paid for the video is the one depicting a robotic arm of the space shuttle moving out. In this case the 3D illusion or effect is to feel the arm move towards the viewer out of the display screen.
The movie gives us a feel of 3D in slow motion which is quite unlike the other present day 3D movies that are typically fast paced. The tranquil and slow pace of the Mars visit in 3D gives us the real essence of the third dimension while providing us with a superb view of a completely new world. Sure the images used are dated but the overall effect is quite stunning and has to be seen to be felt.
The presentation has its own share of limitations and this must be seen from the stage of development of the technology of the time that the pictures have been taken in. Price of the video disc is $19.99 and available from AIX Records.