Vancouver’s UrtheCast takes the first selfie from space

UrtheCast’s Iris camera on the International Space Station

Shots from space feature in videos for Bond film, Pepsi Challenge

Its cameras may be orbiting some 600 kilometres above the Earth, but Vancouver-headquartered UrtheCast Corp. is firmly shaking and stirring on terra firma as part of a beer company’s global campaign for the new Bond movie. Heineken used UrtheCast’s proprietary Ultra HD images taken from a camera aboard its satellite Deimos-2 for the recently released “first selfie from space” dubbed the “Spyfie” as part of its Spectre initiative.

UrtheCast, founded in 2010 by brothers Scott and Wade Larson with George Tyc, worked with Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency, to launch and install its first cameras, and with NASA to stream in real time its high-definition Earth viewing (HDEV) data. It was able to home in on more than 200 worldwide guests invited to the 007-inspired event at the Hoover Dam in Nevada. Resulting in a short video, the shoot also includes Bond villain Dave Bautista and the well-known Bond theme.

On another notable brand campaign released this month, UrtheCast partnered with PepsiCo Global Beverages Group to create a 10-minute film for the New Pepsi Challenge. Complete with music from Usher and starring David Oyelowo and Freida Pinto, Black Knight Decoded features full-colour UHD Earth video—captured by its Iris camera positioned on the International Space Station—of thousands of people in 11 countries across four continents. It includes people wearing expansive skirts in Cancun, Mexico, flag bearers in Xi’an, China, and Sydney, Australia, a love heart created out of balloons in Ostrava in the Czech Republic and a peace symbol created out of neon-coloured cars in Dubai.

“A tech company in UrtheCast’s position is typically focused on the science behind its products and how it can all be applied—and these two projects provided perfect showcases for the level of creativity that’s possible,” says Scott Larson, the CEO of UrtheCast, which is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange as ticker “UR” and now has offices in San Francisco; St. Louis; Washington, DC; Madrid and Moscow.

“With so much of what we’re working on being behind the scenes, it’s incredibly rewarding to see these grand campaigns out in the public eye, illustrating ways our technology can be put to use.”