One technique used was weightlessness, in many of the scenes Howard needed to have the feel of weightlessness and he was lucky that NASA let him use their aeroplane KC135. This is a normal plane but not like a passenger aircraft, it has no seats and the insides are built to look like that of a shuttle. This plane was taken to huge altitudes and dropped to give the feeling of weightlessness; real astronauts used this in their training. Howard had to get 3 men and a camera crew onto the plane, and film good quality realistic scenes. I feel that this is a major part in the making of he film and the film couldn’t be made well without it.
The launch was a very realistic part of the film and Howard put a lot or work into it. With the combination of special effects and different camera angles, the shuttle and the surrounding look incredibly real. He starts off with a low angle shit of the shuttle and pans all the way to the top, the special effects come in when it ignites, and the flames from the bottom of the shuttle. As the shuttle starts to shake, the camera moves to a crane shot right on the tip of the shuttle and as the rocket breaks away from the…… the camera spirals down the shuttle just missing the broken parts, this seems very realistic and the dizziness of the spiraling could be recreating what the astronauts are feeling.
Howard doesn’t always use real-time like in the final scene on the countdown to when the shuttle should renter the atmosphere. There is a 4-minute countdown and the first 4 minutes are actually 2, but the last minute is in real-time. I think this is a good idea as at this moment-the climate of the film, the audience are waiting for what’s going to happen, there is a lot of tension, and leaving this tension for a whole 4 minutes, it would slowly drift away and the audience would lose interest.
Throughout the film there is the idea of heroism and patriotism, this is shown at the launch where there is a long shot of about 80 people sitting on a small stadium. There is a highflying American flag above them and the music of dead American military heroes playing. For a lot of American people watching that were around at the time of the original launch, this could be like it was all happening again. The camera then switches to a close-up of the two wives, and their different feelings, one is crying for joy and the other is looking up at the shuttle in amazement. This scene seem very realistic as you could imagine this happening at the real launch.