19 November 2012

Spotted at IAAPA: special venue cinema figures Huggins, Schklair, Katz, Fraser, Najar and Yellin

Some familar faces from the world of special venue cinema and 3D production were seen during the IAAPA Attractions Expo last week. I caught a few snapshots in mediocre 2D. Ammiel Najar topped me with his amazing 3D captures.

Paul Fraser of Blaze Digital Cinema Works, Steve Schklair of 3ality Technica, Charlotte Huggins of Rhythm & Hues, Mark Katz of National Geographic Cinema Ventures

Steve Schlair and Judith Rubin. Photo by Ammiel Najar
Steve Schklair and Charlotte Huggins.
These relationships date back to the 1980s. Huggins was a rising star producer with Boss Film Studio. Schklair was making some of his first 3D films with Infinity Filmworks. Katz and Fraser were both started with IMAX Corp. in the late '80s. 

Schklair and Huggins moved on to great successes in bringing 3D production and production tools to the world of feature films. Huggins produced Journey to the Center of the Earth, among others (she has been described as "the most prolific producer of 3-D motion pictures in the world"). Schklair founded 3ality Technica and catalyzed an explosion of 3D native capture for film and television. His company was named one of INC 500’s fastest growing businesses in 2011. Now, these 3D pioneers are each finding their way back to the special venue attractions industry and hence, IAAPA - where the best place to shmooze is at the booth of the Themed Entertainment Association, where these photos were taken.

Paul Fraser is a consultant to the special venue cinema industry, with a focus on educational content and digital dome presentations. He is an adviser to
IMERSA.org, which promotes digital dome formats (aka "fulldome"). Fraser and Katz are both active within the Giant Screen Cinema Association and museum cinema industry. Katz has been most visible lately as the head of theatrical distribution at National Geographic Entertainment and one of the driving forces behind National Geographic’s Museum Partnership Program. More details are in this recent article by Joe Kleiman, for InPark magazine.

I've had the honor to interview both Schklair and Huggins for InPark Magazine cover stories. Huggins appeared in issue #39, and Schklair in issue #42.
Doug Yellin of Matilda Entertainment and Steve Schklair
Ammiel Najar of Graphic Films and Steve Schklair

Schklair connected with some of his fellow alumni at the USC School of Cinema/TV, Doug Yellin and Ammiel Najar. Yellin was involved on Edmonton's Capitol Theater, a project that combined the restoration of an historic theater with a 4D cinema installation, detailed in this IPM article by Joe Kleiman and myself

Ammiel Najar is a fixture in the giant screen cinema industry, with 26 years producing for Graphic Films, including such classic titles as Africa the Serengeti, Ring of Fire, Alaska: Spirit of the Wild, and Seasons.

Judith Rubin at IAAPA 2012. Photo: Ammiel Najar.

Leafing through my back issues of World's Fair magazine, I found, in the April-June 1990 issue, the item I wrote about Infinity Filmworks back when Steve Schklair and Keith Melton were running it together (Keith is still there, at the helm). It was part of an article about Osaka Expo 90:

..."In its pavilion, Sumitomo Corporation showcases a 16-minute, ballet-fantasy film entitled 'To Dream of Roses,' starring Marianna Tcherkassky of the American Ballet Theater. The soundtrack is performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Visitors follow a path through the pavilion's outdoor rose garden to the columned entrance of the building and into the 400-seat theater. 'Roses' was produced by Infinity Filmworks, using high-definition video technology. Shot through two cameras, simultaneously matting together the images of the dancers with the fantasy backgrounds, it was then transferred to 70mm film. The finished product has a look unlike standard film, video or television, that may be a prototype of future screen entertainment..."

The film was produced in partnership with Douglas Trumbull; Steve was co-producer and DP. It is said to be the first film ever to be photographed in high-def and released on large format (70mm) film, as well as one of the first to utilize real time live compositing and real time motion control.