Jay Nemeth has worked as an Aerial Cinematographer since 1984, using various airborne camera systems to produce images for feature films, commercials and documentaries. He also has extensive experience rigging and designing camera systems for everything from light aerobatic airplanes to military fighters and helicopters.
Jay is one of only a handful of Zero-G qualified cameramen, having logged zero gravity flights for various projects including filming Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin. In addition to being comfortable in zero and high G environments, he is familiar with the specific camera systems that work well in these conditions.
In 2007, Jay saw the emerging private space programs and created FlightLine Films to not only continue providing the highest quality in Aerial Cinematography, but to also provide Astro Cinematography equipment and services.
Jay explains, “Until now, government contractors have handled the bulk of research & development for space-qualified cameras. The private space sector acts with a ‘faster / better / cheaper’ mentality, and so should the camera systems and crews that document these coming milestones. Furthermore, current space camera systems lag behind state-of-the-art technology due to the time consuming certification process. When a camera is finally qualified, it is usually installed in the flight vehicle and set up by technicians and engineers who may miss the opportunity to capture artful or cinematic images.”
Having a background as a traditional cinematographer, Jay makes all imaging decisions based on producing the most impactful and compelling pictures to tell the story of the mission.
In the quest to keep costs down, commercial off the shelf equipment is tested in a special chamber that simulates the vacuum and extreme cold conditions of space. Many pieces of camera equipment that you would expect to fail, actually work well when tested. Some items must be modified by changing out electronic components that can’t tolerate the hostile environment. Other items that are too complex to modify, are simply placed inside a pressurized housing that simulates the environment on earth, and they function normally.
Beyond the camera systems for flight vehicles, Jay also designs camera systems for Full Pressure Suits and for Optical Tracking of aircraft and launch vehicles from a ground based system using large telescopess.