This is the town where I was born and have lived all of my sixty five years. This is the time of my boyhood when all around me, my father, his friends and an entire city dreamed a single dream and made it come true to the amazement of the world, but also their children. We aimed for the stars and reached The Moon.
Fifty years on with great celebrations planned, there is no way we who lived that can adequately describe it. Movies, stories, speeches, songs and advertisements cannot contain the breadth of an experience that included all that was courageous and much that was sorrowful. Rocket engines whose sound could kill anyone who was too close when they roared rattled the china cabinets of the engineer families and shook the dust from the walls of log cabins where those who tilled cotton on sharecropper land could not shake the minds and hearts of those dedicated to preserving separation. Yet in the young, the children, that insane chasm challenged us to cross it just as the rocket ships our parents built crossed the empty space to the lonely blue moon we gazed up at for ten years, night after night.
Here is a poor reminder for those children who like me watched and listened and danced when humans first stepped out onto the Sea of Tranquility. May our children return their and journey on.
To tell our story, I choose the voice of the man who led us there.
Some background: OBS is not animation software. It is for live streaming and games but it is free and it is sturdy. Once I realized I would not be doing much live streaming, I got interested in some of the text motion features (scrollers) and realized I could do basic two D animation with layers of green screen elements, gif backgrounds, etc., In other words, basic multiplane animation a la Disney without the stop motion. In fact, all one has are loops and the manual ability to turn layers on and off and move the layers in the stack in real time (takes some practice; a bit like yanking ropes on a stage set), plus the slide feature. It also has group containers which simplify the layer manipulation considerably. Took a while to figure out the limits but that is the fun of it.
I started with framing elements (think a TV or Star Trek viewer) for the foregrounds for technical reasons (give scrollers a place to disappear into and out of) and then for this, decided to plonk a drive in theater on the big spring pond to have a slide container. The neon side scroller on the top was just fluff. I dinked with the alpha controls so I could get a bit of transparency in the VB photos just for the ghostly effect. As with most media software, tweaking the parameters of filters and controls leads to neat stupid pet tricks. A limit here is no z-axis, so zooming is not really workable. If I want that, I can always create objects in X3DOM and use the browser or window capture features of OBS to capture an MP4 and use that as a medium source layer. Browser capture was how I put Arlo in the TIme Tunnel last weekend (a YouTube video) for giggles.
For theatre nerds, one can use whole scenes as sources/layers and that leads to basic set designs, then drop in active elements for specific scenes. Did I mention OBS is organized as groups of scenes? Any theater cat sees this and says "AHA!!" and is off to the races. There is some payoff for those early years I spent in theatre. :)
So, lots of little experiments to figure out the software, then some prototypes to create a style. Then noodling for ideas. It was Dana who looked at the first version and suggested adding engine test sounds because we grew up listening to those and trying to help Ma save the china. So I looked for those, didn't find a good F1 (beware the Russian sites for this stuff; malware to hell). I settled for the Apollo 11 countdown from NASA (Free! I Like Free!). I had run up on the Von Braun speech while looking for a short quote from him earlier in the day, the length dictated it become the spine of the animation, then at the very end realized there was no moon in the background gif of stars over Monte Sano. I was going to use some of my own music then read that Von Braun, a concert level classical pianist, was a Beethoven fan. I had about 35 snippets of various Beethoven pieces from a Christmas Carol project I did several years ago still sitting on my DAW upstairs. So I created a sound track with those, the NASA countdown and VBs speech. That also let me clean up the mp3s of the original NASA and Von Braun speech which were quite noisy. Not great sound but acceptable.
While the skyline of Huntsville is recent enough, almost everything else is from the period. That was the point: to get a shadow of the feel of the period, something very few movies or documentaries do for reasonable reasons as they tend to focus on the heroes and overlook the groundlings.
The current celebrations and whole rebranding of HSV as The Rocket City (a name out of vogue here for decades) are less homage to the accomplishments and more ways to sell real estate and beer. I am a bit nauseous with all of that. They have the feeling of strangers walking over graves and setting up their picnics on the headstones. Not my thing which is why I would not write a song for the celebration at the Space and Rocket Center. It may be the curmudgeon in me or my sense that those contests are just more real estate merchandising.
Truth is, if you didn't live it, you don't understand how it felt to have your house shake or dance when the Eagle landed. It's a river one doesn't step in twice. So the best I could do for now was get as many memory photos as I thought might get reactions from all of us old timers (the German Rocket Team called themselves that) for a few minutes of "ah wasn't it all so cool" while at the same time gently reminding those with gauzy memories that all of it wasn't and how we as kids handled that determined who we became. Kelly Bolton Martin picked up on that aspect (a reason she was and is one of my very best friends).
All together, a fun way to spend yesterday rather than mow the lawn. Of course, today, I moved the lawn. Retirement is such a challenge. :)