Production Sound & Video

Spring 2018

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by Richard Lightstone and Mark Ulano 28 The most dramatic shot was him diving into a ditch to save himself from the swooping aircraft. That cut was shot on an MGM soundstage, with Cary diving into a set-built ditch and the crop-duster images being rear-projected. Before there was green screen, there was blue screen, but well before computer graphics, there was rear projection. The Fox Film Corporation in 1930, on the film Liliom, directed by Frank Borzage, first used it. The best example would be Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (MGM 1959). The iconic scene of Cary Grant running for his life as a crop-duster attempts to mow him down. The bulk of that scene was shot on location in Bakersfield with Cary running well ahead of the low-flying crop-duster. Robert Chartier and his company, 24frame .com, have advanced this technique into an even more efficient process. They were invited to enter and demo their process to the Academy Scientific & Technical Awards Committee for the 2018, 90th Oscars. Mark Ulano CAS AMPS and I paid him a visit at their massive facility just off of Venice Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles. We've all been involved on insert car work with a process trailer. A time-consuming procedure involving street closures, motorcycle police, safety officers, film permits, stunt drivers and logistics that hopefully, are well coordinated as many lives are at risk. Robert's company removes all those potential obstacles by rear-projecting multiple screens surrounding the picture vehicle with made-to-order in sync footage of the street scenes in the safety and comfort of an air-conditioned soundstage. Robert Chartier first conceived this process in 1994, using Sony 1080i projectors at eighteen hundred lumens with a DLP engine from Texas Instruments. On a project with Director of Photography Gale Tattersall, Robert did video playback of some plates in the windows of the vehicle, but it could only be night shots with the streetlamps going by. The technique advanced when Christie Digital came out with their 18K projectors. Robert describes his vision: "Basically, the cameras got better, everything's gotten better, we've changed the equipment over and over and over to try to do it right. Then I opted to build our own capture van that had all this equipment in it. Currently, we are using Christie Digital projectors stacked up to fifty thousand lumens." Robert Chartier and Live Synchronous HD Car Process A scene from North by Northwest. ©MGM Studios A rare still of the famous scene The camera's view of projected driving inside the bus for an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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