Magazine article American Cinematographer

Behind the Scenes of "The Taiwan Experience"

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Behind the Scenes of "The Taiwan Experience"

Article excerpt

The "TAIWAN EXPERIENCE" is a spectacular 26-minute multi-media presentation which is the focal point of the Republic of China's pavilion at EXPO '74. The show utilizes 28 Carousel projectors, a 3:1 wide-screen 35mm film, rear screen lighting effects, an "envelopmental" surround sound system, and a dazzling array of special effects devices. It's controlled by a small digital computer system, and is shown on a 70 foot wide screen. It represents a prime example of the communications and entertainment possibilities available, in multi-media when designed around "state of the art" production and equipment technology.

Electrovision Productions, Inc. and Media Generalists of San Francisco were given the task of producing the show for the Republic of China (Taiwan). Electrovision, which has produced such multi-media shows as the San Francisco, Hawaii, and New York Experiences, was contacted by the government of Taiwan to tell their story to the fair-going audience. Electrovision, in turn, selected Media Generalists to produce, engineer, and install the show in the theater at the fair site.

Time was a key factor from the start. There were only nine months from contract signing to the delivery of a finished product; our responsibility included theater design and installation with an April 1 delivery date for the production.

After tentative budget breakdowns were prepared a creative team of producer, writer, and designer travelled to Taiwan to scout locations and gather information. Two weeks on location gave us enough material to produce a first script. Needless to say, there was a great deal of distance between the Government Information offices on Taiwan and the media-conscious American fairgoers. Thus, the writing and eventual approval of the script required considerably more give and take than usual. The final script was a satisfactory compromise that covered the information that the Chinese believed necessary, while maintaining a light, entertaining, nonpolitical attitude. We spent August and September working out the format of the show, lining up equipment, and setting the stage for a production that had to run smoothly in order to make the fair opening.

The format Electrovision has used in the past has been slides projected on a screen in an aspect ratio of 7:1. Kodak Carousel projectors are used, and the slides are in the 46mm Super-slide format (square). Previous Electrovision shows have used multiple interlocked 16mm projectors to put motion pictures into the center three screens. Numerous special effects projectors, strobes, lighting effects behind and in front of the screen, bubble machines, mirror balls, etc. fill out the Electrovision "Experience" format. Each member of the audience has a swivel chair to help in the viewing of the show.

One factor that places the Electrovision multi-media shows above others is that extreme attention is paid to the quality of images and sound. The still photographs were all shot using 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ or larger format cameras, including several panorama cameras. This meant that every slide in the show was reduced from the original, and the quality was thereby maintained.

In the pre-production planning, we found that we were not pleased with the quality available from three interlocked 16mm projectors. The registration differences in film grain, complexity, and the inability to form a true wide screen image turned us toward a larger format. We decided, after much deliberation, to shoot full aperture 35mm with normal lenses and crop on projection to a 3:1 format. We chose unsqueezed instead of squeezed, 4-perf pulldown instead of Techniscope, and full width instead of the academy aperture. (Full-width aperture gave us 28% more picture area to project, and we needed every square millimeter we could get.) We used an Arri HC with the ground glass marked for a 3:1 aspect ratio and standard lenses. For grab shots, and to provide pictures of a different format, we took two 16mm cameras; a Beaulieu R16es, and a Bolex Rex 4. …

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