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The NFB and World Fairs, pt. 4: Seville and Expo 92

Momentum, Colin Low & Tony Ianzelo, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

This is the last of a 4-part series documenting the NFB’s involvement with World Fairs, from Montreal to Shanghai. It was written by Marc St-Pierre, our French Collection analyst. – CW

Seville, 1992

The Universal Exposition of Seville was held from April 20 to October 12, 1992. It marked the third time that Spain had organized a World’s Fair. Expo ’92’s theme was “The Age of Discovery,” in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s first voyage to the Americas (although the explorer was from Genoa, Italy, his four great voyages were funded by Spain). More than 100 countries took part, and nearly 42 million people attended. Following on from the Fair’s theme, the Canada Pavilion’s theme was “Explore Canada—Explore a New World.” For Seville, the NFB—once again collaborating with IMAX Corporation—achieved yet another technological first: a high-definition IMAX film, entitled Momentum. To make it, the Film Board called on the same team that had created Transitions.

The first film in IMAX HD

Momentum took viewers on a trip through Canada’s varied landscapes, both geographical and social. The high definition images were made possible by shooting and projecting at 48 frames per second—twice the frame rate of conventional 35 mm film. Filming and projecting at higher frame rates makes for sharper, smoother shots, especially when fast-moving objects or people are in the frame, and a clearer image overall. The technique was not new, but this was the first time it had been married to IMAX technology. The results were astonishing: spectators in Seville marvelled at the exceptionally clear and fluid images, projected on a screen ten times larger than normal. Just as remarkable was the sound design for the film. The production team employed a state-of-the-art recording and mixing system called Ambisonic, which immersed the audience in an amazingly realistic “wraparound” sound field.

This playlist features these memorable films produced by the NFB and its partners for the World’s Fairs in Montreal, Osaka, Vancouver and Seville. It also includes the Glimpses/Impressions, directed by Jean-François Pouliot, which is screening throughout summer 2010 at the World Expo in Shanghai, China (the film has yet to be shown in theatrical form in Canada). Users can also view NFB films made about Expo 67 in Montreal and Expo ’70 in Osaka.

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