National Geographic Rides The Vomit Comet

This week National Geographic airs a series of new idents in which a physical, 3D manifestation of its yellow frame logo and various other objects float around in zero gravity. The idents, created by agency, Brothers and Sisters were specially commissioned to promote and brand the National Geographic Channel’s forthcoming Space Week event (starting Sunday 4 January) – and were shot in zero gravity conditions in a G-Force One plane (a specially adapted Boeng 727 – the same kind of plane used by NASA to train astronauts) high above the Nevada Desert…

[QUICKTIME /images/uploads/2008/12/water.mov /images/uploads/2008/12/waterstill.mov 512 264 true true]

This week National Geographic airs a series of new idents in which a physical, 3D manifestation of its yellow frame logo and various other objects float around in zero gravity. The idents, created by agency, Brothers and Sisters were specially commissioned to promote and brand the National Geographic Channel’s forthcoming Space Week event (starting Sunday 4 January) – and were shot in zero gravity conditions in a G-Force One plane (a specially adapted Boeng 727 – the same kind of plane used by NASA to train astronauts) high above the Nevada Desert.

[QUICKTIME /images/uploads/2008/12/balloon.mov /images/uploads/2008/12/balloonstill.mov 512 264 true true]
[QUICKTIME /images/uploads/2008/12/jelly.mov /images/uploads/2008/12/jellystill.mov 512 264 true true]

In order to create weightless conditions on board the plane, it had to perform a high altitude flight maneouvre known as a parabolic dive. Basically, this involves getting to around 10,000 feet, and accelerating to maximum speed. To create a parabolic arc, the plane’s nose is then pulled up suddenly and the engines power is lowered – allowing the aircraft to follow a parabolic trajectory. To ensure safe recovery of normal flight, the engine power is increased before the nose is oriented below 40 degrees, and then the nose is pulled up to resume normal flight. The top of each curve allows about 30 seconds of true weightlessness – the effect of zero gravity. We’d also imagine such a flight would allow for a far longer periods of pure nausea (if you’re lucky) and possibly pant-wetting fear (not so lucky). It comes as no surprise to us that astronauts call this kind of special training plane a “vomit comet”.

So anyway, the 14 members of crew on the NG shoot had to endure no less than 17 consecutive parabolic dives, which gave them the grand total of just eight and a half minutes to record the 13 idents which feature balloons, water, colourful jelly shapes, M&Ms and even a set of pool balls. We’re assured that no vomit appears in any of the idents, although, judging from an ‘incident’ we spotted in the making-of film we were sent (see image below) – it was a close run thing…


Images of the chunder-inducing shoot

Credits
Project name: Zero G
Client: National Geographic Channel International
Brief to: To create Channel identity for National Geographic Channels International
Creative agency: Brothers and Sisters
Creative Director: Steve Shannon
Copywriter: Thanh Chu
Art director: Pedro Garcia
Planner (creative agency): N/A
Media agency: N/A
Planner (media agency): N/A
Director: Danny Vaia
Production company: brothers and sisters/Serious Pictures
Producers: Tracy Macassey and Ben Croker
Editor: Billy Mead
Post-production companies: Glassworks
Audio post-production company: Hi-Pitch

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