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Montage of images and link description. Lost in the Grand Canyon Imagemap: linked to kids and home
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The American Experience
The Film & More
The American Experience's First HDTV Production

"Lost in the Grand Canyon," which traces the first exploration of the Grand Canyon, is the first high-definition (HDTV) production for THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and for WGBH, which produces the history series. The program is also the first HDTV production to be closed captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers and audio described for blind and low-vision viewers. The Caption Center at WGBH and Descriptive Video Service, a national service of WGBH, provided captions and descriptions.

Producer Mark Davis shot the hour-long documentary in Super 16 film; digital film-to-tape technology makes the HDTV production possible. "Lost in the Grand Canyon" follows John Wesley Powell's dramatic 1869 exploration of the yet-uncharted territory. Powell began his journey with four boats and enough food for 10 months; after just two weeks, one boat was smashed and one-third of his food supply was gone. Three months and 1,000 miles later, battered by rapids, falls, near-starvation, and dissent, Powell and six of his men emerged as heroes from America's last Great Unknown.

"Although not as treacherous as Powell's journey down the Colorado River, THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE's trip into HDTV has been pioneering in its own way," said Margaret Drain, executive producer of THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. "We're proud to present a remarkable story from the past using the technology of the future."

In Boston, WGBH will join forces with ABC affiliate WCVB-TV/Channel 5 to broadcast "Lost in the Grand Canyon" both on analog 'GBH/2 as well as in digital high-definition on WCVB Digital, Channel 20. "As we prepare to launch WGBH's digital broadcast signal in September, we're also looking to originate more HDTV productions from WGBH," said David Liroff, vice president and chief technology officer at WGBH. "We are grateful to our colleagues at WCVB for making this pioneering program available to area viewers."

WGBH is one of approximately ten PBS stations expected to launch digital service in 1999. Digital television will enable WGBH to transmit multiple program streams along with accompanying Web-like data on a single broadcast channel, as well as high-definition pictures and sound of unprecedented quality. An increasing number of WGBH productions are being produced in digital widescreen and high-definition formats.

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