A view of Lake Pend Oreille from the mountainside northwest of Sandpoint, and just west of the Airport. My home is just below this viewpoint.
In 1971, we put on a multi-projector show in the sanctuary of the church, using our first manually controlled dissolve units, complete with "banging on the table" when the relays stuck. We projected onto a set of bedsheets that had been sewn together, mounted on some pipes. The screen was 30 feet wide! We had Bose 601 speakers and a Crown DC-300 amp, enough power to rock the pews with rock music.
Unfortunately for us, the church leaders were not impressed. In fact, they were so unimpressed that they literally tossed us out on our ears. Rock music was not at all 'in vogue' in the church in 1971.
Cry 3 was Clear Light’s first real production. It included a complete sound track, and was a 6-projector show. We trucked that show all over the country, for churches, colleges, and other groups, using seminary students. Over 500,000 people saw the show, over a period of several years.
We were still "on the outs" at Park Street Church, so when we did a week of showings on the Boston Commons, we were invited to do so at the catholic church next door. After all the anti-catholic rhetoric we had heard at Park Street, it was a very interesting experience to meet with the priest and discuss what our goals were (evangelism) and how they aligned with what the priest wanted for his flock. Eyes were opened that day!
We actually pressed a record of the sound track. Hopefully I can provide you a link to it here soon
When Clear Light was first formed (as Clear Light Productions), it was for the purpose of creating a world class media performance - to be presented in theaters around the country - using some high technology equipment. It was to be a "multi-image" show. In those days, film was it: video was VGA at best, so to get high resolution images on a big movie screen, a slide projector was the way to go. Lots of slide projectors. The goal was to use at least 15, maybe 30 for Because I am. We never raised enough money to actually do the show, but we did do the soundtrack.
Set up as a for-profit company, a multi-year attempt was made to raise the funds required to do the show. Some early funds were used to create a soundtrack, with original music. Records were pressed, logos were created, and we sold them at Cry 3 showings. A 33 rpm record and 45 rpm single were also recorded and pressed. The theme song, Because I Am, was recorded by Turley Richards. The song was written by Turley Richards and Ronald Thomas, Copyright © 1973 by Clear Light Productions, then in Newton, MA. I have digitized the single for your listening pleasure, in MP3 format. While it is compressed, it is full CD quality, 128 kbs, so the file is pretty large. Click on the link below to play. In the future, I will upload the rest of the pieces from the LP. Enjoy!
Because I Am, Turley Richards, Ronald Thomas
One of the installations we did was for the Miami Police Dept. It was a 15-projector plus 3 movie projector and other special effects system, run by the SuperStar. It had a custom gunshot detector. The purpose of the system was to train police when to shoot, and when not to.
The system was set up in a large, dark room with a 30 foot screen. A police car was parked between the projection system and the screen. The projectors and control system were inside a control room at the rear.
The program started with audio calls on the car radio, and movie footage of the car traveling down a street. At some point, the officer was called to the scene of an on-going incident with a gun. At this point the movie changed to the car racing down the street, siren blaring, lights flashing, as they rushed to the scene. Once approaching the scene, the movie was replaced by a wide-screen "movie" via slide projectors at 10 frames per second. At this point, the control system had engaged the shot detector, and was capable of stopping on a frame if and when the officer shot the blank. Based on the frame where the officer shot, an analysis was given (first, there was a cool-down sequence played).
I was there when the system was finally finished and up and running. They had an officer and his men come in to try the system. We were going to strap on the heart rate monitor on the officer, but he decided to have one of his men do the actual run. Interestingly enough, we did not take the heart rate monitor off the chief, and sent in the unmonitored officer to the darkened room with a gun loaded with blanks.
The other signal the SuperStar was monitoring was the heart rate of the participant. As we got hot into the scenario, the system did a heart rate shutdown and cool down sequence. We looked at the heart rate monitor: yup. Sure enough: heart rate above 160/minute! But wait! Who had the monitor on?
Yes, it was the chief in the control room. He was not even in the car! He was so engrossed into the event unfolding in the main room (viewed through the window and monitor speakers) that his heart shut down the system!
Well, I guess that convinced me that it was working just fine. I don’t remember if the officer with the gun ever got to fire it…
My absolute favorite show that was produced as a demo of the Star3 System was called Starlight Fantasy.
Starlight Fantasy was a revolutionary multimedia extravaganza using 15 slide projectors overlapping to give a wide screen capability, but with all 15 projectors sharing the center portion of the screen. This technique allowed both wide screen animation, and high-speed animation in the center.
Starlight Fantasy was created by an animation and music genius by the name of John Sacrenty, from California. He was an early user of computer-generated graphics, produced in those days as slides.
In Starlight Fantasy, there are two sections where you hear a woman talking (see audio soundtrack download, below). During these passages, the center of the screen depicted the woman speaking - lip sync - essentially a movie, but with slide projectors. Around her were digitally generated animated light rays.
I will never forget traveling to New York City to meet John at our dealer’s showroom there to see the show for the first time. We sat in the theater, and were blown away! The first time through, I never heard a word the woman said: I was too busy watching her lips… The second time, I actually heard her words. The third time, I went back in the control room, to watch all the LED’s on the programmer and memory units. It was quite a show in itself. I said to John "How does it know what it’s doing?" What a silly question! If anyone know that, it was me: I wrote the microchip programming, I designed the circuits, I even designed the cabinets, the circuit boards, and the silkscreens! Even the brochures! And I asked that question?
John was shocked! How could I ask that? I explained to him it was one thing to know capabilities, but to SEE, to actually SEE the equipment performing such an amazing feat in AV programming code - code that John had entered into the Star3 Memory, and to see it run with all the LED’s flashing, with the soundtrack in the background, and all the projectors flashing and clacking, it was truly overwhelming even for me!
Naturally, this show was a big hit on the trade show floors - our booth was crowded the entire convention! It was the show to beat for several years following. People were awestruck: again, Clear Light did the impossible! Movies with Slide Projectors!!!!
The Starlight Fantasy show, created by John Sacrenty in 1978 using computer animation software (very new at that time) and some fancy studio techniques, was an incredible hit. The soundtrack ran on a 4-track recorder, where one track had the "clock track" to synchronize the system to the music. In those days, we were still running a mere 10 cues per second from tape - later upgraded to 50/sec with the Star Sentry Series Universal Controller (early 1982 - four years later), along with the Apple II-based SuperStar.
The MP3 file of the soundtrack is large - over 9 MB, recorded at 160 kb/s. It was extracted off of an old cassette and digitally re-mastered by Anderson Creations. You can tell, if you have good ears, that it is from a tape, because of occasional drop-out, but the digital reprocessing has done wonders in recovering a lot of the excitement of the original soundtrack.
Tools used for this purpose include Blaze RipEditBurn, Blaze Media Convertor, Microsoft Plus analog recorder, and DFX, a digital signal processing audio enhancement package. The theme song really begins at about 4:20 into the 7:51 soundtrack. You can download it by clicking on the link below.
Starlight Fantasy Soundtrack, Copyright © Clear Light, Inc.
Clear Light produced a show for Wycliffe Bible Translators, entitled If Your God Is So Great. The flip side of the Because I Am 45 contained one of the pieces from this show, entitled Jesus Loves Me. This is recorded by Jim Thomas, and written by Warner and Bradbury. This is Copyright © 1975 by Clear Light Productions, Newton, MA. Also in MP3 format - enjoy!
Jesus Loves Me, Jim Richards (Warner & Bradbury)
We loved to show off the SuperStar and its abilities. Especially to our competitors, who could not believe it could do what it obviously was doing. A case in point was our interactive murder mystery show, produced for one of the many trade shows we manned a booth at.
This show had 9 projectors. It had 6 "sections" and each section had 3 possible soundtracks along with the accompanying images. In the theater, there were small 3-button voting boxes on each seat. The show starts out setting up the murder mystery, and then goes for a vote: do you want to look in the study, the library, or the living room? This was shown on the screen as 3 options, and the viewers were supposed to press one of the three buttons to decide which direction they wanted to go.
With 6 such points, there were 243 different versions of the show you could see, depending on the voting.
Naturally, our competitors did not believe this was possible. Quite impossible indeed! How can you have a projector do different things depending on voting? Ha!
When the floor traffic was light, I would find a competitor in the theater running around pushing a bunch of buttons to see if it actually did what we said. Of course it did. They could not figure out how it could be done! It was a big success!
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