A Look at How Weightless Flights Have Revolutionized the Production Industry.
Today marks 19 years since the premiere of Ron Howard’s blockbuster movie, Apollo 13. Considered one of the most iconic space movies of all time, this film inspired generations of people on the wonder of spaceflight while setting the bar for future cosmic cinematics.
But how does a director or an actor realistically portray the weightlessness of space without actually going to space? Enter the ZERO-G Experience, or as we like to call it, the weightless movie studio.
The ZERO-G Experience is the identical weightless flight encounter used by NASA to train its astronauts and used by Ron Howard and Tom Hanks to film Apollo 13. “If we’d had to do it with wires — if we really would’ve had to try to create the weightlessness with wires, I shudder to think what the movie would have looked like,” said Apollo 13 Director Ron Howard. Howard shot the movie over the course of 40 weightless flights to achieve the authentic portrayal of space.
On board a specially modified Boeing 727, parabolic arcs are performed to create a weightless environment enabling passengers to float, flip and soar as if they were in space. This allows guests to experience true weightlessness – once only known to astronauts.
Decades later, Hollywood continues to rely on weightless flights to produce captivating yet realistic galactic thrillers. In preparation for Warner Brother’s smash hit Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón flew with ZERO-G to understand the weightlessness of space. And just recently, Halle Berry experienced ZERO-G to get ready for CBS’ upcoming science fiction television series, Extant. Berry said, “Doing the zero gravity flight helped me an awful lot, just to put that experience in my body.”
But ZERO-G’s production magic goes beyond the depths of space. Its weightless flights have been used for countless shoots from high-flying commercials to movies like Matrix 2 and Matrix 3 to make those special effects a reality. It even served as the set for a special Good Morning America segment called GMA Defies Gravity with Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, Chris Cuomo and Sam Champion.