Thursday, June 10, 2010

Old meets New

Please note that the story begins at the bottom of this blog.

We were amassing a huge number of original photos. One of the goals of the project was to create the largest archival fond on The Greatest Auto Race on Earth which would include photos, film, original manuscripts etc. However, managing the photos took two paths: one for film and one for the archives.

The post production process we were using was strictly HD 1080 24p with the option to output a film print at 2K resolution. That's complicated film talk but what it basically means is that we wanted the absolute highest resolution we could get now, and protect it for future visual/video/digital formats.

All of the photos were therefore scanned at 600DPI and saved to discs and hard-drives. The original photos (at mid 2005)were removed from their folders and inserted into archive/acid-free photo slip covers and deposited at the Bank of Montreal for safe-keeping. The discs and drives were then backed up twice to ensure that everyone working on the project (look at the list of credits at the end of the film just to see how many people were involved!)had acccess to the very best quality photos/images.

And they had to all be tagged the same so that when Adam (visual editor) was needing a shot worked on by Rat Creek (digital wizards) or colour corrected by Presto Digital, everyone had the same photo. A numbering system was created for each disc/drive and then a name given to that collection.

For instance, the Buffalo attic photos became known as "BufAttic600DPI." There were about 30 such discs/drives created which just contained photos. Right up to the week before we were mastering, however, we were getting new photos.

Robert Rampton (one of the historians we interviewed in the film and now a good friend) had been rumagging around the Library of Congress in June 2008. He found a file folder whose slip covered noted it had not been opened since the 1950s. It was close to the other photos we had already received copies of. In this file folder were about 30 photos no one knew existed. He got us copies, and they ended up in the film ... just in time. The disc/drive became known as "Rampton Pics 600DPI."

In December 2007 we had accumulated about 24 feet of stacked research including thousands of photos. It was time to write the script.

Over Christmas I sat down and for the first time took all of that material and began putting it in order. We cross referenced as much of the material as possible. For instance, there were reports in Koeppen's book of a certain incident which did not jive with the NYT's report which was, though, the same as a local eye witness in a local newspaper.

There was a wonderful story about Capt. Hansen and St. Chaffrey in Chicago. It was reported in Le Matin that Hansen was leaving the French team in order to take a ballon ride across the western US and be a "tourist." The NYT's reported it differently noting that Hansen and St. Chaffrey had had a huge blow-out. Schuster's memoir noted the NYT's report as accurate.

January saw the first draft of the script ... unfortunately it was about six hours in length. At that point, Scott Parker and I began cutting it down. It was hard. We had so much detail gathered that we wanted to share. Cutting it down was difficult. In fact, the final script was not arrived at until July when it was given to Terence Harding (fabulous writer)to do a "clean up" version. I was too close to it and Terence was able to bridge the gaps and just make it flow for the Narrator.

Fortunately, the first draft still exists. I am still proud of the research process.

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