Winds of Change
This video, produced in High Def by Liedle Films is a letter-box version of “Winds of Change,” a multi-image slide presentation about the history of the Plains Indians, produced circa 1970. This High Def video version is faithful to the original slide presentation, even to the extent that this video mimics the 1-second of black between slide changes.
The original slide presentation was a one-of-a-kind custom installation in the Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning, MT.
Jack Stonnell, who wrote, directed and co-edited the production is a professor emeritus of cinema at Montana State University, and at the time of the production was a cinema professor and filmmaker with many award-winning films to his credt.
Under Jack's direction, his wife, Jackie, several students and faculty in the MSU School of Film and Photography, took about 4,000 35mm slides from which about 350 comprised the final edited version. (Ted, I'm not sure of the 350,... you probably know since you had the slides to revise the format).
Stonnell recorded Vincent Price's narration, selected the music and sound effects and conducted the final mix
As the production got underway, Stonnell and Liedle functioned as a team editing the slides and designing the automated projection and sound
system to syncronize with the slide sequencing.
The original presentation was comprised of 35mm slides projected onto five side-by-side projection screens. Each screen was about 4 feet tall by 5 feet wide, so all five screens were about 25 feet across and about 4 feet tall, yielding a very wide aspect; compared to 16:9 this presentation is 64:9 !
This video shows all five screens using High Definition and ultra-letterbox. We scanned the original slides, that were stored but never projected, and only used to make copies from time-to-time over the 34 year life span of the show. Our scans were 1080 pixels high, so they are genuinely "high-def" although they are not 16:9. Using FCP HD set to 1920x1080, we reduced the size of every image using 'scale' set to 24, and positioned them side-by-side across the middle of the screen area. We placed a video of the slide show, complete with audio, under all five video tracks containing the slide scans, and matched each change with the original show, including the black spaces where the projector advanced, since it was one projector per screen. We then stretched the images vertically to fill the frame, and then exported a quicktime H.264 file with dimensions set to 1920x270, which squeezed the vertical dimension back to normal, and gave us the finished wide-screen version.
The slides were synchronized with the sound using a custom designed controller and presented in a custom designed theater area. When the presentation was first produced, an attempt was made to utilize a punch-tape controller system to synchronize the projectors, but that system proved to be unusable. This was very early in the ‘multi-media’ days using slide projectors synchronized together, and the technology was sparse and pricey. That was when touch-tone phones were just coming out, and Liedle devised a system to control the slide projectors using touch-tone phone technology. Liedle, and the producers, enlisted the aid of Summit Engineering, affiliated with the MSU EE department, and they built a proto-type device that ran the show in the Museum of the Plains Indian for the next decade. It was ahead of its time in many respects.
The show ran for about 34 years, from 1970 until 2004. It required routine maintenance by museum staff to change projector lamps and replace worn out projectors, as well as replace slide sets when the slides became faded and scratched, and replace audio tapes as they became worn.
Ted Liedle, who installed the original presentation, continued to work with the museum over the years to keep the system running. The original custom designed controller was replaced in the early 80s with an off-the-shelf controller, and the audio was changed over from reel-to-reel tape to audiocassette. At the turn of the century the audio was digitized onto hard drive, and enhanced as stereo, and that system ran until 2004. There are no longer replacements for the controller, so the show can no longer operate in its current configuration.
As of 2009, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Ruthann Knudson and the Friends of the Museum of the Plains Indian, and to grants from Humanities Montana, and The Glacier Park Foundation, the show is once again playing in the Museum of the Plains Indian on a High Def monitor. This iteration of the presentation was produced by Liedle Films, and installed by the staff of the museum.