Posts Tagged ‘Fort Benning’

The NIM Giant Screen Laser Projector Experience- Part Two

June 23, 2017

A Look at the National Infantry Museum’s State-of-the-art Giant  Screen Laser Projectors – Part Two

70mm IMAX film is fed from a revolving platter to the IMAX projector.

Not only was the 70 mm IMAX picture on the huge screen, one of the largest in the Southeastern United States, an impressively immersive experience, the projection booth was also big and elaborate.  The two IMAX 70 mm film projectors filled the largest projection booth I have ever seen.  Now, the theater is showing a huge picture on the Giant Screen that is, in my view, just as good, or in some ways even better, with projectors that that don’t come near filling up the booth.

Giant Screen Christie Laser projectors use hard drives, DVDs, live digital presentations, anything on a computer instead of film.

 

Theater Technical Manager Brad Skipwith said that instead of spending a lot of time loading the 70 mm film, the operator just inserts a hard drive and pushes a button.  He said, “The picture quality is a lot better. It’s way more sharper than film. It’s a lot more crisp.” When I pointed out that film resolution is still higher than 4K digital, he said the reason laser projection is clearer because laser light is brighter, especially when running 3D movies, and that “When the film runs over and over, you, of course, start seeing lines, you get dust. You get none of that with lasers.”

Another plus, he said, on the laser side is that 4K Xenon lamps last about a thousand hours, whereas laser lights will last ten years or more.  That’s one reason that the National Infantry Foundation decided the laser system would provide longer life and lower cost of ownership. Also, going totally digital saves thousands of dollars in shipping charges.  Film and film canisters are quite heavy. Hard drives and DVDs are not.

Now, all the theater needs is YOU.  The last two times I went, the theater was almost empty. That’s hard to understand because the documentaries that are being shown on a regular basis are really worth seeing in my view. Fortunately, the free movies shown in the summer for the kids draw good crowds. The museum comes out ahead on them because the concession stand does well.  Movies and popcorn go together.

 

 

The NIM Giant Screen Laser Projector Experience – Part One

June 22, 2017

A Look at the National Infantry Museum’s State-of-the-art Giant  Screen Laser Projectors – Part One

The sea change in cinematic theatrical projection is the relatively recent switch to digital  systems. Just as the way film systems evolved technically, digital is doing the same thing.  Film went from grainy black and white flickering silent cinema to sound on film and color and from almost square screens to widescreens that got larger and larger.  Digital has gone from 2K definition which allowed some pixels to be seen to 4K which solved that problem and from and from light bulb to laser lights.  The National Infantry Museum has one of the very few theaters in the Southeastern United States with state-of-the-art Giant Screen laser projectors.  The museum’s theater also has one of the largest screens in the Southeast.

70 mm IMAX film projectors took up a lot space in the large NIM IMAX Theater projection booth. I took this photo in 2010.

Up until last year, the NIM still used  IMAX 70 mm film  projectors. IMAX 70 mm was as good as it got in theatrical projection until digital laser came along. When IMAX switched to digital laser, the museum dropped IMAX and switched to Christie 6P laser projection, and changed the name of the theater to Giant Screen.

When I saw the new documentary “Aircraft Carrier,” I was so impressed with the experience I decided I wanted to learn more about the Christie laser projectors. I wondered why the huge picture on the screen seemed so much more vivid and immersive than the one produced by 70 mm film projectors.  I was able to take a look at the projectors and get an interview with Theater Technical Manager Brad Skipwirth.

I’ll take you inside the projection booth in my next post.

 

 

 

 

Tanks in the National Infantry Museum

June 16, 2014

My stepson Ken Champion and a group of men and boys from his church in the Kennesaw area recently came to Columbus to see the new IMAX documentary, D-Day, at the Patriot Park IMAX and tour the museum.  I gladly joined  them to  see the movie again because it’s one that you can enjoy more than once. 

When we toured the museum, I was very pleased to see an exhibit I  hadn’t seen before, the relatively new Gallery of the Armor and Cavalry.

Armor 007

Before there were tanks, trucks, and jeeps,  there were horses, and that’s represented in the gallery.

Armor 002

Tanks came on the scene during World War I.  That’s repesented by a WW I French Renault that was unearthed in Afghanistan.

Armor 004

You can learn all about how that happened and see other tanks and artifacts that show the evolution of the U.S. Army’s Armor branch.  Since Fort Benning is  now the home of not only the Infantry School, but also the Armor School, which moved from Frot Knox to Fort Benning in 2011, the National Infanttry Museum added this gallery which will display armor artifacts until money can be raised for a seperate building for the National Armor Museum.

A D-Day Vet Comments on IMAX Movie about D-Day

May 19, 2014

D-DAY

D-DAY  3-D: NORMANDY 1944 STARTS FRIDAY AT THE PATRIOT PARK IMAX

I’ll tell you what I thought  of the  film, but first,  here’s what 93-year-old Charles Maupin of Columbus, who was a 23-year-old 29th Division radio operator who landed on D-Day plus 1,  had to say about it.

D-DAY IMAX 002 (2)

“I thought it was real good. The only thing missing was the actual combat footage. That might have been too grewsome for most people. People ought to know, though, what  those guys went through, those guys that landed first…Those guys showed determination and courage.”

He said that when he landed there were row upon rows of bodies on the beach, covered with ponchos.

He is very concerned that today’s young people have no understanding of what service to country means.  He said, “All young people should serve their country in some capacity to get an appreciation of their country and what that country stands for.  Too many young people today don’t know and don’t care.  I think it’s sad. We’re losing our freedom.”

I would go a little further than “good.” I would say it is an extraordinary, visually stunning documentary. Broadcast journalist and historian Tom Brokaw, the film’s narrator says “What I was drawn to in this film is that it tells us the story of D-Day in a new way that gives such clarity to one of the most important events in the history mankind.”

Charles is also on target in being concerned that young people “don’t know and don’t care.”  We have to ask, though, whose fault is that? Parents? Teachers?  Our education system?  Perhaps it’s time to start emphasizing the importance of history in our schools again.

Since this movie uses the latest techniques in movie making, using animation, CGI, and live-action images, and since it is quite immersive on an IMAX screen, and has a wonderful musical score played by the London symphony orchestra, I would think it would have a high impact on today’s young people.

In my view, every 9th grade high school student within a hundred miles of the Patriot Park IMAX should be bussed to the National Infantry Museum to see it.  It’s a very effective history lesson.

 

 

Musical Magic on the Jordan Stage

May 11, 2014
Selfie of mc in front  of Bob Barr  Community  Band

Selfie of me in front of the Bob Barr Community Band

The concert  that  was 25 years in the making graced the Jordan Vocational High School auditorium stage Saturday afternoon.  The Bob Barr Community Band never sounded better to me than when it played its Silver Anniversary Concert.  The audience loved it and so did  I.  

The are a number of reasons for that.  Top of the list has to be that its conductor, Fred Catchings,  is a lot like the man for  whom the band is named.  Retired educator Jimmy Motos, who plays clarinet and emcees the concerts,  told me that, and he should know, because he played in a Bob Barr JVHS band. “He rehearses the same way.  You keep doing it until you get it right.” Catchings is a retired U.S. Army band director.  His last assignment was as commander of the Fort Benning band.  How fitting. Bob Barr was stationed at Fort Benning when, in 1946, he took the job at Jordan. He wasn’t an army band director, though. He was an Officer’s Candidate School instructor during World War II.      

Another reason  the Bob Barr Community Band plays so well is that it has talented musicians from all walks of life.  Most live in the Columbus area, but some will travel a hundred miles or more to play in the band.  One of the talented musicans is Adam Mitchell, who is now director of the Jordan Band.  His band recently was awarded superior ratings.    

Since I was a member of the first Bob Barr band at Jordan, I was called on to  make a few remarks.  I told the audience about how I joined the Jordan band in 1945,  which was a year before Robert M. Barr took over.  The director of that quite small band was a student.  Not only did  he direct the band, but he played first clarinet and football.  “You can play drums, right.” Fellow classmate Wallace Helton, who convinced me to join,  had told him that.

“Well, yes, but I can’t read music.”

“You’ll fit right in. None of our drummers can read music.”

After Bob Barr, the band’s first paid full-time director, took over in 1946, he let me know that drummers would have to be able to read music.  He also told me that I was going to teach them.  I couldn’t read music, and I had to teach them. Well, you didn’t tell Mr. Barr “no.”  I would learn a lesson from a percussion textbook one day and teach it to the other drummers the next day.  It worked. We learned to read drum music. In no time at all some of them could read it better than I could. Oh, well.

Mr. Barr – all his former students still call him Mr. Barr – took that 17-piece band and in six months time had it up to about 60 members and, it went from playing the really simple “Military Escort” march to Beethoven’s “Eroica.”   Over the years it got so good it won contests and played concerts all over the country.

He didn’t just teach music, he also took a personal interest in his band kids. He connected me with WDAK radio announcer Ed Snyder who became my mentor and helped me get my first job in broadcasting. 

I can’t think of a better tribute to him than for our community band to proudly wear his name, especially since that band plays so well.  It’s next concert is for Arts in the Park on May 18th at 4 p.m. in the Werecoba Park band shell.  Be advised that the band shell does not provide the excellent acoustics that you get in the Jordan High auditorium.     

  

Yearender: America’s Wars Are Somewhat Ignored in 2010

December 29, 2010

  It is incredible that our country is in very costly wars – costly in many ways – but most Americans appear not to be thinking about it. It is probably thought about more in our area, Columbus (Georgia not Ohio), because Fort Benning supplies so many troops to the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq.

I just checked the top 10 searches on Yahoo in 2010. The BP Oil Spill tops the list, followed by the World Cup. Teen singer Justin Bieber and American Idol made the list. But neither Afghanistan nor Iraq are on it.

More than 4,400 Americans have been killed in the Iraqi war and more than 1300 in Afghanistan. About 34,000 have been seriously wounded. In 2001 the U.S. Defense budget was $316 billion. $13 billion of that went to the war in Afghanistan. This year, 2010, it’s $693 billion, according to Time, with $102 billion going to Afghanistan and $61 billion to Iraq.

This is really serious business, but you don’t see much about it on TV nor in the newspaper. Even though I was just a child during World War II I vividly remember the constant coverage of the war. It was front page and led radio newscasts just about every day, and dominated the newsreels in the theaters every week. Just about every one had a friend or relative in the military. People were keenly interested in news about the war.

Now, it seems to be something everyone just takes for granted. We have been at war so long that it has become the norm. It is a norm that is having tremendous consequences, consequences that not many of us seem to think about very much.

The Maneuver Center of Excellence Band Gives Excellent Christmas Concert

December 6, 2010

My Army band memories came flooding back yesterday afternoon as we sat in the mezzanine of the Bill Heard Theater.  The Fort Benning band, now called the Maneuver Center of Excellence Band, was delighting an almost-full house with its annual Christmas concert, “Ringing in the Holidays!” ( Bill Heard is a 2,000-seat theater.) The band also packed them in again for the evening performance. It got a long, standing ovation at the end of the concert, and, I am sure it was not just because Columbus is an Army town, one that continually shows its appreciation for the Fort Benning troops, but because it was an excellent concert.

Ft. Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence Band's "Ringing in the Holidays" concert, Bill Heard Theater, River Center, Columbus, GA

30th Army Band, Munich, Germany, 1955

The 30th Army Band, the one in which I was a percussionist and drum major in 1954-55, no longer exists, and a Google search produced no history of it.  It was located at McGraw Kaserne, Munich, Germany, which was headquarters for the U.S. Army in southern Germany. 

We also played some concerts for civilians, but our main function was to play for review parades, not only at McGraw Kasern,  but for Army posts all over southern Bavaria.  Every week we would board a bus and travel to other kaserns and posts.  The views could be spectacular as the bus would wend its way to some remote posts high in the Alps.

World War II Street Comes Alive Oct. 16th and 17th

October 16, 2010

World War II Fort Benning barracks, World War II Street, National Infantry Museum, Columbus, Georgia

The World War II Street at the National Infantry Museum comes to life with reenactment groups showing us what it was like for a soldier to start his Army life during the World War II.  On October 16 and 17 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  you can see volunteer reenactors drilling, doing calisthenics, eating in a mess hall and doing all of the things they did in the 1940’s.

As I checked out the Street as a member of a tour, I, along with other vets with a lot of years on them, had to reflect on when we slept in those wooden barracks and did all of the things that basic trainees do. 

Ah, the memories of SOS and KP that this mess hall brings. (No, this SOS is not Morse code. Anybody not know what it means?)

I wasn’t in the Army until 1954, 9 years after World War II ended, but  being eleven-years-old when the U.S. got into the war,  I remember vividly what Columbus and Fort Benning were like then.  Soldiers were everywhere in Columbus and Phenix City, filling the sidewalks, restaurants, movie theaters, and U.S.O. facilities. Wikipedia says the post had billeting space for more than 90,000 troops during WW II.  That meant the population of the post was larger than that of Columbus. 

A lot of famous soldiers served at Fort Benning, including General George S. Patton, whose sleeping quarters and headquarters building are part of World War II Street.

Chapel

The only building on the street that you could call beautiful is the chapel.  It shows what can be done aesthetically with simple wooden construction.

M1 rifles in WW II barracks

Yes, it did bring back memories, with the most powerful being how glad I was to move out of that environment and be stationed in Munich, Germany, where I had a private room in a former SS barracks building and where German civilians replaced military KPs.  Solders gladly chipped in a few bucks a month to pay the KPs.  Germany was still recovering from World War II and civilains were glad to get the jobs.

Herschel Walker Tells Ft. Benning Audience How He Overcame Mental Illness

May 14, 2010

 

Herschel Walker speaking to National Infantry Museum Parade Field audience

Herschel Walker talking with media following his talk to soldiers and middle school students at Fort Benning

Walker said he went from being a “special” student because of a speech impediment, who suffered a lot of bullying in his early years,  to becoming a martial artist and successful high school, college, and professional football player.  He made the point that everyone gets knocked down a lot in the game of life,  but getting back up and staying in the game is what is important.   Also, a big moment is when, like he did, you admit you need help in handling your mental problems and get it.  He was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder.  He also emphasized repeatedly the important role that Jesus Christ played in helping him overcome his problems. Along with three writers, he has authored a book about his life, Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

The Army brought Walker to Fort Benning as a “Guest Trainer” for the Suicide Prevention Awareness Training session which was sponsored by the Army Substance Abuse Program.  The suicide rate in the Army has been steadily increasing, hitting a record with 128 suicides in 2008. 

This morning’s event was definitely worth the trip to Fort Benning and the long, hot walk from the packed National Infantry Museum parking lot to the parade field.  It’s not everyday that you can hear probably the greatest running back of all time tell about how he overcame mental illness.

Selby Rollinson Honored with Mary Reed Award

May 2, 2010

Mary Reed gives Selby Rollinson the Mary Reed Award trophy as Rotary Club of Columbus President Bob Jones, Rollinson's wife, Sarah, and son, Zack, look on. (Photos: courtesy Jim Cawthorn, Camera1)

Selby Rollinson, Deputy Chief of Staff at Fort Benning, member of Rotary Club of Columbus

Selby Rollinson, who is a retired Lt. Colonel and now Deputy Chief of Staff at Fort Benning, which is one of the highest civilian positions at Fort Benning, and member of the Rotary Club of Columbus, was honored with this year’s Mary Reed Award.  The award is named for the club secretary and honorary member Mary Reed, widow of Dan Reed, who preceded her as secretary. The Mary Reed Award goes to a member of the Rotary Club of Columbus who demonstrates service above self over a sustained period of time.  The Dan Reed Award, which is given at a different time, goes to a non-Rotarian.  

A video was shown of notables who praised Rollinson for his work in facilitating Columbus area people with issues relating to Fort Benning. 

Greg Camp, National Infantry Foundation executive and member of the Rotary Club of Columbus

Greg Camp, who is with the National Infantry Foundation, and  who introduced Rollinson, told me that Commanding Generals come and go at Fort Benning, usually staying about two years, but the Deputy Chief of Staff stays on the job for years – Rollinson has been at it for 20 years – so he is especially equipped to be the “go to”  man when members of the Columbus community need assistance with arrangements on post.