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Stepping into Space: The ISS Experience | SXSW 2021

Laura Mingail
Marketing, Business Development, Technology & Magic at Archetypes & Effects
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SXSW 2021
March 19, 2021, Online, Austin, USA
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Stepping into Space: The ISS Experience | SXSW 2021
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About speakers

Laura Mingail
Marketing, Business Development, Technology & Magic at Archetypes & Effects
Dr Jessica Meir
Astronaut at NASA
Jonathan Woods
Exec Producer at TIME
Felix Lajeunesse
Co-Founder, Co-Dir Director at Félix & Paul Studios

Laura Mingail founded Archetypes & Effects to help to bring to life the stories and story experiences that entertain and evolve audiences, and industries. She applies insight into storytelling, audiences, new technologies and magic to support content creators with product, marketing and communications strategy. She is also a frequent speaker and media contributor focused on the creation and monetization of emerging forms of storytelling and technologies.

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For over 8 years and counting at TIME, Jonathan Woods has developed exclusive, groundbreaking projects, setting the bar for innovation. From the Emmy Award-winning A Year in Space, to the only 360-degree panorama captured from atop 1 WTC, to the work-in-progress capture of the first-ever spacewalk in virtual reality.

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Felix & Paul Studios is an EMMY® Award-winning immersive entertainment studio, creating virtual, augmented and mixed reality experiences for audiences worldwide. The studio combines technological innovation with a unique, pioneering and in-depth approach to the new art of XR storytelling—creating ground-breaking original immersive experiences (MIYUBI, Nomads series, Strangers, The Confessional, Space Explorers) and collaborations with existing franchises (Jurassic World, Cirque du Soleil, Fox Searchlight’s Wild, Isle of Dogs) and world-renowned organizations, leaders and performers (NASA & Space X, President Barack and Michelle Obama, LeBron James, President Bill Clinton, Eminem, Drake, Wes Anderson, Judd Apatow, Brie Larson, Michael Fassbender, Jeff Goldblum and many others).

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About the talk

Join NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Félix Lajeunesse, Creative Director from Felix & Paul Studios, and Jonathan Woods, Executive Producer from TIME Studios, as they discuss the making of Space Explorers: The ISS Experience, the largest production ever filmed in space. Shot over two years, the series offers an intimate take on the joy, wonder, and dangers of life in orbit as Jessica Meir and seven of her fellow astronauts take on life-changing missions aboard the International Space Station. Joined by Moderator Laura Mingail, Meir, Lajeunesse and Woods share their personal experiences, challenges and the meaning that their epic four-part immersive series conveys for each.

About SXSW:

SXSW dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. An essential destination for global professionals, this year’s online event features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, professional development and a variety of networking opportunities. For more information, please visit sxsw.com.

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Elsa rest of the procedure. And I'll see you on the other side. Hello, welcome to stepping into space. The ISS experienced, I'm Laura Miguel founder of archetypes that affects joining us. We have an incredible panel who are behind the immersive series. Space Explorer, ISS experienced the largest production ever filmed in space, welcome NASA astronaut, Jessica Muir, Co-founder and creative director from Felix and Paul Studios. Felix, Legend, s and executive producer from time Studios Jonathan wood.

So Jessica, he's been a part of the first three, all, female spacewalk, and you've had a hand in them are seeing people in the ice chest experience in a way that's never been done before. Why are these first steps? So important for storytelling? This tool is incredibly inspiring and exciting for me as an astronaut. And I can tell you that personally because one of the biggest goals of my mission is to try and share it with everybody on the ground. Not only the people that help me get where I am today, but really all of the general public. And all of the people on this

planet, the opportunity to be in space and how it changes you as a person, when you are fortunate enough to look down on our planet with your own eyes and that overview effect that life-changing experience for how you feel in the appreciation that you got for our planet for our people and how connected we are and really are one. All in this together, it is simply extraordinary to have gained that perspective. And I always say, I wish I can bring all the humans and all of the eyes of the whole planet up there with me to get this kind of perspective. Of course that simply is impossible. So

this tool that the ISS experience Is providing is allowing me and my colleagues to share what we do. This simply extraordinary experience that we are. So fortunate to have with all of you with all of the planets in a way that's never been done before by myself. The first time I saw this production I was blown away and I simply felt like I was back home that I was right back there on the International Space Station, it felt real because it truly is this a hundred percent immersive environment and that is something that you can't

capture with a photograph or with a video or with my description of what's Happening. You feel like you are actually part of the mission right up there with the astronauts feeling and seeing what they see and experiencing what they're doing and even even feeling that weightlessness a little bit. I was simply blown away. So for me and just being able to share what we get to do is And that vantage point is an incredibly powerful tool and I am so excited about this production. Thank you, and Jonathan and educate audiences about

space. I guess I choose the answer that in two ways. First me ever ever, since time was founded in 1923 time, has been trying to find new ways to bring incredible stories to life and share them with people around the world. So for nearly a century time is Chronicle history. And, you know, we've always looked with really great interest on explorers of all types and from the very dawn of space programs around the world, most in the United States and around the globe, we've captured, the seminal moments that

really epitomize what it means to the Dare To Dream to do. What some would say is absolutely impossible and and now the nine years, I've been with time, you know, the work that I am. Absolutely. Most proud of centers on those moments where we've been able or been fortunate enough to Bear witness to some of this moment send and share the stories with the world. And and I think finally, when you look at the incredible range of the stories that time covers, there's just a real need in the world today to focus on something that Inspires people and gives people hope. And so much of the work

that's happening on the space station and it's now 20, Your Existence gets really truly directly at the heart of that space, explore the loud audiences to experience that all of his other content. Hasn't got a lot of So when we started, formulating the blueprints in the plans, for this project, about five years ago, I sent that this project would really reshape what it means to understand being an astronaut on the International Space, Station from the perspective of the astronauts. And for us, it was always about helping people be a place experiences thing or

understand something that they might not be able to do. And I think so much of what we do at time as an analogue for that, and doing this, with the ice has experience in Space Explorers and having the support of all of the international entities who make the International Space Station, what it is was fundamental to that process. Wonderful. And now Felix, Felix. And Paul Studios is really known for creating content that Adventures into new territory for storytelling. You allow audiences to explore places and ideas and your experiences capture real, not just real

looking moments. Why do you feel that's important in your work? So what we always try to do in our work. First of all, these really sort of strike, the right balance between telling a cinematic story and creating a true sense of presents for audiences and in both of these things are distinctive. Press telling the story is a craft and nurturing presence in a VR experience is another craft. And what we try to do is really bring these two things together to create a Sim by thousands. And when that works audiences no longer feel like they're watching a story,

they feel like they're living a story and that they are a part of it and because of that, the Emotional experience of audiences is elevated in the case of Isis experience from the very beginning to create event that was for audiences to feel like their crew members on the space station and that they get to live with the astronauts and and feel like they were evolving, you know, with the crew and feeling like they're one of them. And so we really designed to Story the visual language and the facing of the experience to really bring that idea to life. And, you know, one thing that was

very important in order to achieve that that sense of truly being there with the capture genuine, and completely unscripted scenes with the astronauts in space. So that audiences would feel and would know that this is authentic reality, and we saw the. Was important not to achieve mainly for two reasons, first, to show the life of astronauts in space, as it is and in doing so, deepening the odd. Incense immersion and the emotional connection to the Story

in space from hundreds of miles away. On top of that, I know the content is captured and truly stunning 3D 360 with your customized cameras. The series is designed to be available in a range of formats on top of that. So for VR for smartphone theatrical screenings and even Jones and planetariums, what are your best practices for approaching directing content for multiple formats and scream from so far away. Plus with significant time to leave because of the distance,

the production of experience. Our goal was effectively to distribute the content to you know hundreds of millions of people across multiple platforms, virtual reality 5G enabled you know mobile devices. Duncan planetariums the traveling next I need the television, I am. So in order to stay on track in the creative process, given all of those formats of content that we have to create. What I did is I really focused on my poor practice which is a virtual reality cinematic storytelling. So the

first version of the story that we are building is a fully immersive, cinematic, BR series made of for episode. And then what we do is we adopt those 4br episodes to the other format and if we need to do creative changes to them than we do. So, but the Masters story, if you will, is the same attitude be our story. And now, in terms of directing a project like this from a distance what has been truly. She has fundamentally important is having a great collaboration with NASA, and with the astronauts, especially with the astronauts because they're both the film crew and the protagonist

of the story, and that collaboration happen in different ways. Some of the sea Is that we captured in space were events that were already on the astronauts fine line. For instance, when Jessica got to the space station, we knew that we wanted to film us some of the science experiments that she was going to perform during her Mission. So what we did is we work with NASA to identify some of those opportunities. And then I would look at a topology map of the space station. And I would remind the best possible camera angle and camera orientation to still do those things. But, there were

also seems that were, I would say, completely original creative propositions that we made for the crew. And that the crew responded to and contributed to creatively. And one idea that one example that comes to mind is 4 episode 3. We wanted to capture a scene of Jessica and Christina at spending time together nearby, the cupola window of the space station, and having a conversation with each other while taking photos of the Earth. And the creative brief was not really any more elaborate than that and Jessica and Christina ended up filming an amazing

conversation that lasted about 20 minutes and Jessica spent additional time, you know, looking at the Earth, while commenting on their experience of living in space and the results of that scene was mind-blowing and until Jessica and Christina really made that seem their own and took it to you, do a completely. Brilliant Place. Beautiful on that note, 240 Mi away from Felix, approximately during during the shooting. So you played a key part in the creative direction of what was captured in space on top of that. While in

microgravity while running science, experiments and managing through some space emergency as well, on top of the ifs, an earth-based team collaborating with each other. How did you collaborate with your after astronaut call? On to Capture Moments in space beyond what Felix just mentioned. What part of that collaboration is just inherent in everything that we do on the International Space Station, we wake up in the morning, we look at our plan for the day and we have a whole list of scripted things, whether it's an experiment or some space station, maintenance fixing the

toilet or whether it's filming in ISS Experience episode. So we see that in advance and we kind of plan our day accordingly and for these as well since some of them were a little bit more thought-provoking we sometimes God and it was a digital questions to prompt us ahead of time. So we could spend some time preparing our thoughts and that's one of the things that I really appreciated about this production was that it's not just one or two glimpses like an interview would be our thoughts or some questions, you know, back and forth interview. Instead it's really capturing

all these different elements of what it is really like to live and work aboard, the space station. So Felix mentioned filming some of the experiments that we were doing. But also filming those moments that really are just happening organically up there. Yes, of course, we did set up the camera that day while you're shooting in the cupola, but it was all so easy to just forget the camera was there, because that was one of our normal activities and we found it even therapeutic for us sometimes because we would have these astronaut log type of events, where we would be perhaps answering some

questions which Felix and Paul had proposed to us. But sometimes we just had some things we wanted to talk about or some things that we felt like we were important to us. That we wanted to be captured for prosperity and that we wanted to remember for our own memories and that was really therapeutic to just have that time talking. And so when collaborating with the other crew mates, it was interesting with those Logistics. Sometimes one of us would be setting up the camera force in activity that somebody else was involved in and we did work with each other, like Felix mention sometimes. To

make it to optimize, it were to offer a suggestion, you know, we know that they asked us to fill missing over here, but since we're already set up here, and we're naturally in this environment working. Why don't I just spend some time talking and then we could ask you this much and you know, Pete a little bit creative on our own part as well. So that takes some collaboration and we'll just sex with everybody involved because you know sometimes we were setting up an experiment. For example, of some work I was doing in the Life Sciences, glove box that work was really important to capture. It

was this really interesting experiment that we were very excited about what part of that involve. Some coordination with my crewmates, your Morgan, he had to come in and, you know, give me something bring a sample in that kind of thing. And so we were really excited to capture that with ISS experience as well. It wasn't just me working in the glove box it would also capture that close coordination that we have together as teammates and really as roommates on board the International Space Station. Everything that we're doing is so connected with each other. So it was nice to be able

to capture some of those moments as well. And how we work together in the project. Every single person on the, on the ISS had a hand in the project. Oh yeah, absolutely. I think that was one of the things we enjoyed so much, was the moments when we were doing something filming something together, and capturing some of those interactions between each other because those interpersonal relationships on the space station are so special and ones that I know that I want to make sure I have another tool to look back and cherish as well. It's amazing if

it's definitely an ambitious, ambitious project. It's the largest production that's ever been built in space. I'm in Felix, from what I understand you've captured well over two hundred hours of content on the ifs. Already from the arrival of the SpaceX Falcon 9 commercial crew to taking audiences in a space walk outside of the station. How do you plan for capturing the right moments and environment? That you haven't even captured in VR before? Go out. There are many ways to answer that. Maybe from a visual standpoint. One thing that is really interesting and

compelling and specific about stoning in space is that there is not a normal orientation to film things, you know. And then for this, because we're in microgravity environment, and the astronauts, they move around in all possible access in orientation. Until depending on the camera orientation that we choose for a specific shut. The viewers perception of the environment will be radically different and one location inside of the space station. Jen end up looking like many different locations depending on how the camera is actually oriented in on which

surface, it is actually attacked because that surface become your ground when you're in virtual reality ends and that's really great for my creative standpoint because death allows us as a z. I Show me carries to renew, and to evolve the sense of place inside of one episode, but also from one episode to another and so that's something that there's a lot of stuff going into that, and the camera position to capture all of those things and that becomes particularly interesting when we film in virtual reality, outside of the space station. So I see, we're both in just a few weeks, we will

take a new VR camera outside of the ISS to film The first-ever spacewalk in VR and we're currently working with a free visualization VR software to help us prepare their shots. And what we realize is that if we re-entered the VR camera pointing at the Earth than as a viewer, when you're in VR, you will feel like you are underneath the massive Earth. And if we re on the camera, the other way pointing at the words outer space, instead of that year than as of you were in the VR experience, you will feel like you're actually Floating above

the earth and the feeling we get from one orientation to another in. So, radically different and it's just amazing. It was two completely different emotional and psychological in visual experience. So again, we're planning or shots very carefully with with that in mind to build a rich and, and involving Visual and emotional experience for all. I know, there are some tough decisions to make definitely. I'm so Jonathan going back about five years. You actually approached NASA with that idea to capture the first-ever spacewalk in VR and was so simple Studios already working with

NASA on the space Explorer series on Earth, not the connected, your team to bring the spacewalk idea and and much, much more to life in an upcoming episode on that. We just been talking about millions of people will be able to now virtually step into space. Thanks to the magic of VR. How did Prime Studios Felix and Paul Studios and all of the Spaceteam Collaborate to make such a difficult element of this fraction possible. We could talk for at least another 25 minutes, just on the origins of how the groups were brought together. But I think, you know, the, the one sentence answer that is

understanding that everybody needed to play to their strengths. So, you know, we need a very early on 5 years ago when I had reached out to master the first time, Felix and Paul Studios and time Studios did not yet have a relationship. And, you know, we have time, we're trying to really figure out how to solve everything and we realize that that's not going to happen. And and then, you know, in any project of such a large-scale, your top patients at every turn. So, ultimately, you know, NASA brought time and Felix and Paul Studios together. And, and you know, what are abstracts time?

Has an incredible reach. We have a long Legacy of covering space and ambitious ways she looks and Paul Studios is the best in class, if not the best in class, you know of it in terms of producing groundbreaking visual virtual reality, Francis, you know, the astronauts involved, they all have a one-of-a-kind perspective and an appreciation for the challenges of living and working in space that we will never have. So all of the hundreds of people, if not thousands of stakeholders around the world, who facilitated this, all brought something to the table and there's so many

International Partners in. And, you know, if you are engaging with this, in a VR headset or in a museum in months, I had her. Do you know years ahead? Take a minute to look at the credits, because every single one of those people brought something unique to this. And we wouldn't be where we are today without every single one of those contributions. And I think, at the end of this, looking back and Felix made me agree or disagree with this. But I think we had no idea what we were getting into and how Monumental of a collaboration this was going to be to make everything go. Exactly. Right and

turn this into something that is going to transform, surprise and Delight people for hopefully years and years to come. Definitely that credit roll. Just reinforces. This is truly the largest production ever ever done in space and Jessica, one of the many many elements that make Space Explorers the eyes that experienced field. So truly epic is going back to that troop after of life. In space with no special effects on, it really allows you to time travel and you can relive those moments in space and we can step into them as well. How do you feel when you're able to step back

into your time and space? But also what, what do hope that others will think when they visit? Well, that is something that is so important to me and it's interesting. I was actually speaking about this and another conversation earlier today, how unfortunately, my experience in space already feels so distant and sometimes, even though when I was up there, it felt like home. I actually felt, I think more at home than I've ever felt in my life. And I was up there after a few months, you feel completely natural floating all the time and you even think wow what's it going to be like to put

shoes and walk again but then of course even though 7 months seems like quite a long time and it was kind of a long Mission. That's just a blip in time, relative to my lifetime and relative to our existence as humans on this planet. So it already feels quite foreign. And in almost a bit surreal, that it even happened, and that was something that I felt sometimes. Even when I left there, in the cupola floating looking down on the planet and thinking, how am I up here? 250 MI. Above the planets orbiting every 90 minutes and everyone else I know is down

there, it is. Just this feeling that that you think, wait a minute, like I feel like I'm in a film studio now how is this actually happening? Because that's just a frame of reference that we have for our own experience and for our Collective Human Experience. So now that I have this tool that I can put on this headset and returned to the space station, it truly feels that way. I remember watching Anne, McClain, watch the preview of it. She had just gotten back from space and I hadn't gone yet and I thought, wow, this is incredible. I can't wait to show it to, and she's just gotten back. And

she said, simply I feel like I'm home. And that is truly how it feels for us to see the things that were part of our everyday life, even though I feel so disconnected from it and so distant from it. Now, as soon as I put that headset on, I see where I slept, where I ate where I work, And every last detail of the hardware. That's on the wall with particular cable running this way, it's already in my memory and it brings me right back there. So it is an incredibly powerful tool for us as astronauts to remember that experience to help. Share it so that we can keep it fresh. And

also, for training, I think it will be a very powerful tool because it allows us to access and experience it in a much different way than we can with our our training paradigms on the ground and for everybody else. I just think it brings them so much closer. If they won't have the opportunity to go to space. This brings them so much closer to how it would actually feel to be part of our lives and to share it with us. And I hope that they really feel that way that they feel that their part of it and part of the mission. We certainly felt that way about the camera. I mean I know the camera

exactly where it lived at all times and it was there. It was part of a mission and it was like an additional crew member there watching. So I hope that everybody that watches Now can feel like that like they were actually there for the mission part of the team working together with the rest of us. Thank you so much for all of your time, I really appreciate it. I can't wait to be an additional crew member Myself by visiting through VR and thank you so much.

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Laura Mingail
Dr Jessica Meir
Jonathan Woods
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