"Flying Studio" Set For Stratosphere Jump

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Felix Baumgartner is working to break the longstanding freefall record by jumping from a balloon gondola at the edge of space later this year, and this week Red Bull said it has developed a "flying video production studio" to capture the event for live streaming over the Internet. When the current record was set, 50 years ago this month, USAF Col. (Ret.) Joe Kittinger documented his jump from 102,800 feet using spring-wound motion-picture cameras warmed by hot-water bottles. The Red Bull Stratos capsule will be equipped with nine high-definition cameras, three 4K digital cinematography cameras and three high-resolution digital still cameras. The outside cameras are in pressurized housings designed to protect them from the near-vacuum air pressure, ice and extreme heat of the stratospheric conditions. Baumgartner also will carry three small cameras attached to his space suit. The launch date will be announced within a few weeks, the team said on Wednesday.

Jay Nemeth, photography director for the project, said the mission camera systems are crucial not only to provide the live event coverage but to document "the little nuances and details" of the freefall for later scientific research. "The better the quality of the images, the more we give the scientists to look at later and analyze," he said. Nemeth also noted that the complexity of the Stratos camera system is a "double-edged sword," since it will allow the team to collect more vibrant footage with more angles and more coverage, but "there is much more to go wrong."