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Moon towers

February 13th, 2014 by jomo

Online this AM was a story about Austin’s moon towers, and that reminded me of something.

Cactus Pryor was a very well-known media personality in Austin, working his whole life for KTBC radio and TV (he died in 2011). Among the various programs he did was one which dealt with his reminiscences of growing up in Austin.

As a guest on that program one day he had a fellow who had fallen from the moontower at 9th and Guadalupe and survived. The tower is about 150′ tall, and the boy had climbed it, but slipped and fell. He plunged down inside of the triangular lattice support structure, bouncing from side to side so that he never achieved the velocity that free fall would have produced. His whole body was bruised and bones were broken, but he survived.

That had happened in the early 1930s, and it quickly became a schoolyard legend for Cactus and his schoolmates. Decades later Cactus still remembered the story, did some research, found the fellow still living in Austin, and had him on the show.

As I recall, the fellow was rather reticent, and Cactus had to work to draw forth his memories of the event. But Cactus was at his best, because he was speaking to one of his childhood heroes.

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February 1st, 2014 by jomo

One of the things I did during my putting-meat-on-the-table life was film (and video) titles. In the 60s, 70s, less-in-the-80s and still-less-in-the-90s, productions required titles shot on film and transferred to video. The Chyron titler, a high-end device when it debuted, obviated the use of film, and titles could be produced directly to video…one of the early tollings of the bell for my profession…

While a not-inconsiderable portion of my business, I really didn’t like doing titles: it was exacting work and critics came out of the woodwork. The images were there, more-or-less static, for everyone’s squint-eyed consideration. One job I re-shot 3 times because the client kept insisting they were crooked – they were exactly the same everytime, but on the 3rd pass he was satisfied. I shot the titles for Tobe Hooper on “Chainsaw Massacre” but since he was blowing it up to 35mm and I shot the titles on a 16mm Bolex claw pulldown, I told him that he should get them reshot in pin-registered 35 – so he took my art and had them reshot. DuArt (I think) stripped their name in (crooked), in place of my credit, and shot the credits.

The title crawl for Bob Burns’ feature (the title of which I don’t recall) went along fine ’til about half-way through, when the words went a little wonky, distorting sideways and up, and then snapping back into place and all was well the rest of the way. Perplexed, I did a dry run of a re-shoot, and found that there was one place where a corner of the artwork negative was snagging on a little edge of hardware, and then breaking free.

What got me started on this was watching some show and thinking about the current fashion in titles: KIM – Keep It Moving. No longer are titles static, but they are in constant motion, zooming or panning. Not much in the tilt category because that might cause overlapping which is confusing. And the worst thing for titles to be is confusing.

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