The Film & More|
The American Experience's First HDTV
"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
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.