Friday, January 27, 2017

Ghostly Images

                                                                 HCCA Dragon ring
      Charlie Patton was a relentless voice - the drip of a faucet, the car alarm that won't stop screaming. He wouldn't give up until Jerry Brandt agreed to fly Lloyd Cross to Los Angeles to look at the Ballroom and propose a few holograms.

      SATURDAY APRIL 15, 1972
      Lloyd Cross was flown to L.A. to discuss making a hologram for the Ballroom. With less than one week until the doors opened it was doubtful that the holographer's visit would be eventful. I was having my doubts. Nick was out of control. There was a bad taste you couldn't brush away. Doom hung like smog. I didn't care if the club succeeded or failed. I was a light junkie and Lloyd Cross was more important than anything because he could teach me about lasers and light and holograms. He would make Revelation II work. It wouldn't just be another caper story, it would show the world how interesting and spectacular holography could be. It would educate as well as entertain. It would be a revelation.
      Like discovering the religion of light - that three-dimensional image leaping from glass thin as a windowpane -  I was mesmerized!
      "Lloyd, have you seen the holograms at Disneyland?" He hadn't and he wanted to see exactly what they had done to create them in the Haunted House.
      We drove out to Anaheim and like all tourists were shuttled through the exhibit. Lloyd was baffled the first time through. The miniature talking lady's head in the crystal ball certainly looked like a hologram. It had color and parallax - you could see around it - it had motion.
      "See the film being projected?" Lloyd asked me on the second go-round. "The image is being projected from more than one source. Very clever."
      The most spectacular effect was the turn-of-the-century banquet with dancers. It was as if you walked into a room filled with people who suddenly turned into ghosts. To create that effect using holograms would have cost millions. No one had figured out how to make holograms move. Lloyd had a theory that utilized motion picture film prior to holographic emulsion, but to date, no one had attempted anything larger than a moving fish. The banquet scene Lloyd told me was, in his opinion done using a special slit-screen onto which the subjects were projected by parabolic mirrors. There were no holograms in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.
       Relieved that there wasn't a raving genius working for Disney, Lloyd took me to Cal Arts AKA Uncle Walt's dream college. Peter Van Riper, his friend and fellow pioneer was teaching holography there.
      Peter Van Riper, Lloyd and I went to his small holography laboratory and made an 8"x10" transmission hologram of an Indian basket shaped like a teapot. Instead of a stable table Van Riper used a sandbox on the floor. Sand held objects in place and served as an interesting background.
      The holographic plate was developed and returned to the plate holder in the sand. I walked back into the darkened studio.
      "Wait!" Peter stopped me at the door. "Which one is the basket and which one is the hologram?"
      I stood there looking down...wondering... Finally, I pointed at the basket on the left. Peter and Lloyd burst out laughing. "Wrong," Lloyd teased. Peter lifted the real basket and I realized that I had identified the laser illuminated recreation of the object.
    Another lesson. Another encounter with one of the pioneers of holography.  

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