Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal

Ed von Renouard's Apollo Super-8 Film

Copyright © 2005 by Colin Mackellar.
All rights reserved.
Last revised 18 October 2010.

Goldstone vs HSK Super-8

Side-by-side comparison of (left) the Goldstone image the worldwide television
audience saw of Neil at the bottom of the ladder and (right) the image captured off the
TV monitors (before scan conversion) at Honeysuckle Creek with a handheld Super-8 camera.

Ed von Renouard was the Senior Video Tech at Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station. He manned the scan converter console for the Apollo 11 EVA and was the first to see the lunar television as it emerged from the receiving equipment, and before it went to Houston via Sydney, and then to the world.

Ed worked at Honeysuckle until just before the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Previously he had worked in broadcast television with the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

Ed at the Scan Converter Console in aboiut 67-68

Ed von Renouard is seated at the initial installation
of the RCA scan converter before the slow scan rack was installed.
This probably would have been in 1967 or 68.
(Click on the image for a larger version.)

Ed at the Scan Converter Console during Apollo 12

Ed von Renouard at the video console during the Apollo 12 mission.
The slow scan rack is on the left.
(Click on the image for a larger version)

In mid 2005 I was speaking with Ed, who now lives in the UK. We spoke about the Apollo 11 television broadcast when he remembered that he had some Super 8 movie film he shot during the EVA. He had taken his camera to Honeysuckle and had recorded scenes of other technicians and engineers at the station, as well as of the TV monitors showing live pictures from the Moon. He hadn't seen his film in a long time, and wasn't sure he still had it. Thankfully, he was able to find it.

In order to send me a copy, Ed projected his film onto a screen and used a video camera on a tripod to record the picture onto video tape.

When his tape arrived, I realised that Ed had some unique footage. His film clearly shows Armstrong coming down the ladder - something that was only vaguely visible to the international TV audience. As well, he filmed the PLSS backpacks being dumped down the ladder more than two hours after the EVA ended. (This may be the only existing recording of that event.)

Although Ed only made the film as a personal souvenir, it was clear that it was very important to preserve it as a unique record of that historic day.

Several friends in the Apollo community helped with the finances to have the film professionally transferred to digital media, and ALSJ contributing editor David Woods (who is a BBC Post-Production Editor in Scotland) arranged for an Archive Telecine Specialist (Tim Emblem-English) at the BBC in London, to do the work. Ed hand delivered the film - and also some more film including footage he took during the Apollo 16 and 17 EVAs - and the transfer was made.

The digital files were then sent to David Woods and he was able to reduce the strobing on the Apollo 11 TV footage (caused by the difference in frame rate between the 18 frames per second Super 8 movie camera and the TV monitor). David passed along the files to me in Australia and I have put them into their correct sequence and added the appropriate mission audio for context.

The high quality of the digital transfer shows that parts of this Apollo 11 Super 8 film preserve more detail than was seen in Houston.

In the other footage, I also discovered that Ed recorded about a minute of Apollo 16 television that was seen at Honeysuckle and nowhere else.

A DVD of Ed's footage is being produced and a copy will be given to the NASA History Office. The DVD is being launched at a Honeysuckle Creek reunion in Canberra in March 2006.

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