Colorama: The Stories Behind the Pictures
In May 1950 the first Kodak Colorama was installed in New York’s Grand Central Station. The gigantic, backlit color transparencies (18 feet by 60 feet) presented an idealized and panoramic view of life in 20th-century America that reflected and reinforced traditional American values and aspirations while simultaneously promoting photography as an essential leisure activity. What had started as an advertisement for color film evolved into an American tradition for more than 40 years. The Kodak Colorama: The Stories Behind the Pictures, premiering Wednesday, March 9 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV 21 (cable 11) invites audiences to meet the creative team behind the Colorama and learn more about the process.
From a Fairport little league team to a Scottsville swimming hole, a trail ride in Wyoming to an autumn day in the Adirondacks, NASA’s landing on the moon to those famous 15 babies, Coloramas presented a photo album of American scenes, lifestyles, and achievements. While most of the photographers of the close to 600 displayed Coloramas were from Rochester, famed photographer Ansel Adams shot several, and legendary American painter Norman Rockwell once served as artistic director. And, while many of the pictures became world famous, the artists, technicians and photographers were largely unknown to the public.
Eastman Kodak Company staff photographer Steve Kelly and Post Central editor Mike Champlin joined forces to create this half-hour documentary. With unprecedented access to the photographic archives of Eastman Kodak and the creative team themselves, the producers reveals the inspirations, the struggles and the achievements, behind the “World’s Largest Color Transparency.” It is their hope to preserve all the stories behind the images — expanding this film to a full-length program. (excerpt from the WXXI press release, 2004)
Download the interview (2004) during the WXXI Premiere. (audio file)