Under The Radar Box Art image
  • British-Columbia
  • 9 min. 56 sec.
  • Erin Cumming
  • Biographical

In the frontier days of the digital revolution, a team of Canadian engineers raced against NASA to be the first to design a computer processor that could transform satellite radar data into images of the earth's surface.



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Logline

1978. A small upstart team of Canadian computer Engineers compete with NASA to revolutionize satellite imagery of Earth.

Synopsis

In 1978, a group of engineers at MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates in Richmond, BC set out to modernize radar data processing. At the time, radar images were brought to life through an imperfect and arduous process using lenses and film. Our guys were asked to figure out how to process the data with a computer. It was deemed impossible given the very limited capacity of computers of the day. At the same time, a well-funded team at NASA set out to accomplish the same goal. The race was on. Under The Radar delves into this exciting, heady time in the history of BC's tech industry.


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Created By

Erin Cumming
Erin Cumming
British-Columbia

Documentary
Adults
10 minutes
$10,000

Team

Michael and I are super excited about this project! Together we have over 20 years of combined motion picture experience and are eager to tackle this documentary about a dramatic piece of BC history.

Erin Cumming

Erin Cumming
British-Columbia

Project Lead, Director

Michael Sider

Michael Sider
British-Columbia

Producer

Interview Roster

Ian Cumming

Ian Cumming

Ian Cumming was a member of the 1978 MDA team that changed satellite imaging technology forever, and put Canada on the space technology map. Ian was named a Fellow by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for his role in the development of satellite imaging technology, and is now Professor Emeritus at University of British Columbia. Ian is also the father of Erin Cumming, our Project Lead, director and narrator of our story. Ian will provide his perspectives about the game-changing events of 1978, as well as research support in regards to the technical aspects of the story.

Pete McConnell

Pete McConnell

Pete McConnell was a member of the 1978 MDA team that changed satellite imaging technology forever, and put Canada on the space technology map. He went on to found Joule Microsystems in 1996, where he holds numerous patents. Bloomberg describes him as "highly regarded for his engineering leadership at Sierra Wireless, MDA and at Motorola". Pete will offer his personal perspective about the game-changing events of 1978 and the personalities involved, as well as research support in regards to the technical aspects of the story.

Dennis Connor

Dennis Connor

Dennis Connor was responsible for assembling the team at MDA in 1978 that changed satellite imaging technology forever, and put Canada on the space technology map. Dennis will offer his personal perspective about the game-changing events of 1978 and the personalities involved, as well as research support in regards to the technical aspects of the story.

Production Design