The man behind the moon landing

Former CBS News director recounts his time in production

By Christian Hunick
On October 20, 2017

Photo Contributed by Dom Jackson and Dylan Jimenez, Ram TV

A former CBS News director on Oct. 10 and 11 described his development of animations and simulations in flight events and his documentaries.

Joel Banow’s biggest involvement at CBS News was his direction of the Apollo 11 Mission landing.

Banow was recognized by the Directors Guild of America with the honor of Outstanding Television Director of 1969. His role at CBS involved him creating and developing animations and simulations to portray in flight events.

In 1969, there was no means of creating computer-generated animations. All simulations and animations either had to be recreated using replicas of the spacecraft, or by creating frame-by-frame paintings of the events.

Much of the footage of the moon rover was from simulations. Fully suited astronauts drove an exact replica of the moon rover around an airplane hangar for close-up shots. The wide shots captured a miniature RC replica rover as it was driven over a table-top recreation of the moon’s terrain.

One simulation that Banow said he was particularly proud of was of the lunar module’s descent to the moon. He used a crater-textured conveyor belt and a scale model of the lunar module to provide a live visualization of what the Apollo 11 crew was experiencing as they landed.

Banow also spoke about his Alaska-Siberia Lend-Lease Memorial documentary titled "Sanibel to Siberia."

The Alaska-Siberia Lend-Lease program transferred billions of dollars of war supplies to Russia during World War II via the Alaska-Siberia Route. Banow’s documentary followed the process of creating and shipping ten-feet-tall bronze statues for the ALSIB Memorial.

Banow said he wanted to show the entire creative process.

The documentary used historic footage of combat planes, as well as some of Banow’s own animations to provide visuals during the narration.

"I honestly didn’t have any clue what his lecture was going to be about, but it was really interesting to see his perspective of the film industry, " Lane Sifuentez, senior, said.

Banow also gave a lecture about his holocaust documentary.

"There was a lot more history in his presentation than I had imagined," said Sifuentez.

Banow encouraged students to continue with their passions, whether it be writing, media, or science.

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