Welcome to Space

To see far is one thing, going there is another.

At the height of the Space Age, President Reagan is directing in his 1984 State of the Union address, NASA to build a “permanently manned” space station. Embarking on this mission, Skylab becomes the only space station operated exclusively by the United States. Shifting focus from competition to cooperation, the United States and NASA are extending unprecedented scientific and engineering collaboration with the Soviet Union. The journey that unfolds is setting a precedent for future cooperative projects in space, and becomes a remarkable quest to building the largest multi-national, artificial object in space with the longest continuous human presence in low Earth orbit. This is the story of the human space journeys that led to the construction of the International Space Station.

Crafted entirely from more than 1,000 hours of audio recordings, archival footage, and analog photographs from the NASA archives, the film takes us straight to the pivotal events of America’s space station journey exactly as they happened. Immersed in the perspectives of the still photographs elaborately choreographed into 3D scenes, the memorable missions are experienced vividly, through the cinematic effect of a continuous moment. The use of elements like split screens and elaborate title sequences designed with mysterious volumetric lights, establishes the identity of each historic milestone, making it feel like a captivating new journey. The film conveys a sense of unlimited possibility with the world viewed from space as a single nation and its emphasis on international cooperation.

“Welcome to Space” is a celebration of space exploration, a tribute to our history and future in space, beautifully chronicling NASA’s space efforts to creating the Skylab program, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, Space Shuttle orbiter program, and the International Space Station.

I started out with a research and editing exercise trying to find the best historical materials in the archives of NASA. The archival materials I had found — film, photography and audio recordings, had different formats and resolution, creating an opportunity to curate and re-imagine these historical moments into individual moving parts that could tell the story of our journeys to space.

I wanted to utilize as much as possible historical photography, firstly — because of its beautiful analog quality, and secondly — because I wanted to accentuate multiple perspectives from different vantage points. Using a virtual camera was one of the only real ways that could bring to life the historical photographs NASA has scattered across different time periods, and keep it feeling organic as a motion picture. There are over 40 photographs that had been animated to allow the audience to discover new glimpses in high-definition about these historic milestones. I wanted to take the film somewhere where it would fascinate the viewer to discover things moving into what once was a still photograph — to feel surreal, to have a “you-are-there” feeling. Scanning the room inside the control center or seeing the light reflect on to the astronaut’s extravehicular suit, offers a wider perspective of the possibilities of analog photography when converted to a 3D scene, one where you can pick out your own details about the story.

The film covers several different tracks of historical audio, including voices from Mission Control, the astronaut’s voices from space, commentary from interviews and news reports, as well as the voice of President Ford and Reagan, which have been re-mastered and placed into the context of each mission. The voices speak to the present without looking back, but describing how each mission it is going to be. Although it feels like you’re watching history, the sensation is like you’re just discovering this story about the international cooperation in space research.

I designed the overall aesthetic of the film — the leitmotif of the analog film frame, the split screens, title sequences and volumetric lights, to compliment the sense of age of time of the archival sources, but with much more resolution and details, in an attempt to create a striking new look. As we approach the present time, the scenes become more hyper-real, exuding the state-of-the-art looks of today. Chapter by chapter, you discover the intricate process by which the space station became a reality and a symbol of the American space efforts.




Gabriela Iancu


Graphic Design
Motion Design
Sound Design
Archival Research