[CYBERBANNER]
[IMAGE OF TIME SQUARE]

"HOW DID YOU DO THAT?"

When people ask us, 'How did you turn Robert Krulwich into a 750-square foot-correspondent towering over New York City's Times Square?' we like to say, 'we threw a tape in the machine and walked out to the street to film it as it played back.'

But here's how it really worked:

The idea was to illustrate Mr. Krulwich's observation that Yahoo is the Times Square of the Internet -- meaning it is a crossroads where people gather and head off to other locations, and therefore an excellent place to position an advertisement. As he peers into his computer screen, he sees Times Square. From the perspective of people in the Square, the Sony Jumbotron was the portal through which he was gazing.

The Jumbotron is a 23.5 x 32-foot digital display built at a cost of $5 million and owned by Sony Video 1. It hangs four stories up the side of One Times Square -- home of the New Year's Eve ball drop -- sucking up 70 kilowatts of electricity an hour. An estimated 870,000 people pass by it every day. It was erected back in 1990, after it was decided that drivers and pedestrians attempting to navigate the chaotic intersection of Broadway, Seventh Avenue and 43rd Street were in desperate need of an enormous television.

Permission was obtained to use the Jumbotron for fifteen minutes (you can use it, too, but there is a fee). The producers then went to Times Square and diagrammed the location of the ads Mr. Krulwich would be able to "see" from his point of view. The script was written accordingly.

On October 9, FRONTLINE filmed the scene when Mr. Krulwich sits at his computer discussing Yahoo. After he leaned towards his screen, the camera stopped and repositioned itself just inches from his face. Resting his chin on a box to prevent his head from moving too much, Mr. Krulwich did several takes of the Jumbotron sequence, using carefully positioned crew members as reference points for the ads he was supposed to be looking at.

The next morning the best takes were edited onto a second tape, giving the producers a repeating sequence two minutes long. That tape was given to technicians in the Jumbotron's control room who kept in contact with the camera crew using walkie-talkies.

The reason Mr. Krulwich's physical gestures were so exaggerated is that, unlike most things in Times Square, the Jumbotron makes no sound. His eye-rolling and head-turning allowed the crew to follow what he was saying and move the camera accordingly.

The two-minute sequence was filmed seven times from different perspective, and edited into the seamless narrative you saw in the documentary. The audio tracks from the original tape were mixed with the sounds of traffic to create the appearence that Mr. Krulwich's words could be heard in Times Square. One shot, however, did not work. Right before Mr. Krulwich mentions the Claudia Schiffer ad below him, there is a wide shot from the west side of the Square that was beautifully framed, but the camera jiggled during the part we needed. This was solved in post-production by using a different shot from the same perspective. But his words and his image were no longer in synch. A shot of Mr. Krulwich talking, taken from a different perspective, was selected and run through a machine called a DME-3000. The image was cropped, shrunk, twisted around a layered on top of the first shot. Bet you didn't notice.

Finally, you may wonder - how did the thousands of people in Times Square react during our Jumbotron shoot? During those fifteen minutes on October 10, Robert Krulwich's smiling visage towered over this world famous intersection. But typical of New York, no one appeared to notice. Our camera crew recording the event attracted a small crowd. But nobody looked up at the object of their attentions.



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