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AV in Mexico, the first days (II)

In the early years of the Mexican audiovisual industry, local engineers developed teams competing with international manufacturers with extensive experience.

By Alberto Camilli Colunga *


In the year 1976, we had produced a Programme for Petroleos Mexicanos, which screened at the opening of the refinery in Tula, by Luis Echeverria. using the format three screens / six projectors, but each screen measuring 10 meters wide.

The Kodak projectors did not give enough light, even the new Bright Light, so we sent manufacture the company Orcon United States, about double projectors, by a motor and a mirror, alternated sending the light beam to each of them, the big difference was that the light source requested was a gas lamp Xenon 1,000 Watts, same that was used in the most modern cinema projectors (has always followed us gusanito film); those would indeed be able to give us the required brightness.

The projection was made at the head of the administrative building of the refinery. The impact was great, liked both President Echeverria, who worked closely, he called me and said, "Take this to the exposure that we will have in the Netherlands, we will shield Europeans". And yes, it was possible to shield Europeans and so reflected newspaper headlines.

A curious case happened with these huge teams, it was at the International Congress of Architecture. Two companies were to present papers of different Mexican architects. The huge audience. The screen, approximately 14 or 15 meters wide, dear friend Jack Mizrachi was responsible for a Unit of Multivision; which had been placed in the middle aisle of the enclosure, as the shot from the cockpit it was huge and if they went to the house, the result would be disastrous.

For a change, our customers: architects Angel Borja Navarrete and Joaquin Alvarez Ordonez, respectively, had a terrible itch, from the University itself, many years ago, it had been two, student leaders, the two were Presidents of the Association architects. It was a constant battle.

Commenting with Jack shortly before starting the session, he asked me what time your presentation will happen? I replied, "running yours, there is a break and we come in." He replied: "The recess is 10 minutes, we will not remove the computer from here, no time what're not going to hop on the hallway? No, I replied. I rode my team since last night in the projection booth. " I laughed and said, "Since the cabin? you crazy, are not going to see anything, it's a huge shot and a big screen. " Calmly and security, I said "do not worry, as we did, tests and looks great." He laughed again and within minutes began his presentation. Despite being in the hallway, by the size of the screen, the picture was quite dark, but they were using existing professional teams, no more.

With all of misconduct I was in the hallway, he spent the break and started the presentation by architect Alvarez Ordonez. On the intercom he wore, gave the order to start at the right time. My technicians were ready. equipment caught fire for the first time we used the Orcon projectors in Mexico City, nobody knew. The difference in sharpness, color and brightness was abysmal, projectors had lamps for such audiences, were operating for what they were designed to deliver light beams of high power.

Jack, did not leave his astonishment. Technical beside him, they turned to stare at see. A few seconds later came opposite Jack architect Borja, extremely upset, I knew him because he was Vice President of ICA, our client from 1961, but this time, we had not work, and said " Why are so see this presentation and mine looked so dark "architect turned to me and asked me: do you bring that projection? I said yes, he shook his head and withdrew. On leaving the event, he said, "where you return to work you Joaquin, we turn not to Chamba in ICA". Fortunately step that threatens not be a moment of frustration that was soon forgotten and continue working him ICA to date.



Growing competition
Had already established several important companies in the field, although it is fair to say, all moms were: Mannin Display, Multivision and DOCAM, real universities express a large number of producers. Hence they arose: Audiovisual World, Opus 35, Orbitel, PTV Audiovisual; Agustin Garcia Garibay, Los Guasque, Jorge Valdes (Dad, his sons Jorge and Antonio); Pablo Niebla, Jean Baurez, The George and Manolo Robert brothers, who then separated; and some others, who were "pirateándose" technical or producers themselves formed their own company.

For our part, in February 1978, my wife and I had separated us from DOCAM and had formed, with our children, Alberto, María Eugenia and Carmelita: Multishow, she born amid the start of Audiovisual booming. While you certainly also started making films. Nice photo (with the great Thomas to head) and Antonio, Eugenia and Susanna; Carlos Zavala, his wife Carmina, his brother and several relatives more.

Many memories, few anecdotes ... But yes, all of us were the pillars of that generation and also satisfied that "pool" of producers, with great enthusiasm, emerging knowledge and a great love for our work.

AMPAV is created
They began arriving teams that would radically change the audiovisual production and in the hands of local technicians, mix of wit in abundance and new technological support, we produce true works of art Mexico: some companies decided on the AVL equipment, Palomas , Ravens and Eagles, models of different capacities, operated based on "modules" three projectors.

They vied first with the Media Mix and later with the 24 Director Spindler & Sauppé, four projectors modules per channel; Arion, meanwhile, also operated with four modules. Reliability was important for producers, the views were dissimilar, each who defended the mark had acquired.

We will have been a 12 to 15 companies, which in the early 80's, were operating at professional 100% level and under pressure from Kodak and several customers and suppliers that caused us problems, we decided to join and form the Mexican Association of Producers audiovisual (AMPAV), its first president: Carlos Zavala, eternal secretary of the Association Maria Eugenia Martinez Nava, Manager of Multishow.

That thought gave us strength, could push Kodak to keep us special costs, give us equipment distribution and other providers. profitable situations were also achieved. After all, we accept them as partners and get better terms yet.

But best of all, we had formed a group of real friends, of people willing to help each other with the mentality to achieve the audiovisual industry grow. And we did. In many cases, a producer getting a big contract, missing some details, equipment or personnel and confidently relied on two or three more companies and solved all the benefit of the customer and who performed the work.

We once asked to present a team that had designed; all producers were using as a minimum standard, a wide screen which we called 2 1 +; was twice the horizontal size of a normal screen, but the "cuatrapear" images with soft-edge masks, they were able to effect simulating a "run" picture on the entire screen, it was something similar to what we currently do projectors video with the "blending", but honestly, the quality and definition, still not achieved match.

To avoid these complications process, it occurred to me that since I had made several film productions in CinemaScope format, using special optics, which compresses and decompresses horizontally to capture the project; I adapted for optical cinemascope, both still cameras, and projectors.

The result was that with the simplest of equipment Arion, a module of four projectors, could produce an audiovisual widescreen, with very good effects and an incredible simplicity of production. The impact we have to present it, was huge, increased even more, because Schnider, the factory of German optics, had presented immediately before us, a few lenses that "stretched" the image a 50%, but obviously did not come to give the 2 + 1, we were making.

Situations how are you, many were given. Honestly, Mexican producers reached a well-deserved reputation of having the highest achievement of international production. It was the decade of the 80's, Mexico, the AMPAV and a powerful and well-established audiovisual industry.

* Alberto Camilli Colunga, Commercial Director of Events Communication and Image, SA de CV

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