According to Samantha Cheng, a principal of Heritage Series and vice president/executive producer of Television Production Services-the production company contracted to develop the title- A Vision in Stone is the first in what will become a series of educational DVDs commemorating the nation's monuments, memorials, and parks.
"The vision to develop a DVD on the Capitol began in late 1999 through conversations with my partner and husband, [Heritage Series principal and TPS
president/CEO] Charles Crawford," she
says."Our discussions centered on how best to utilize the features and functions of DVD technology in educational applications.We also wanted to create a program that could capitalize on the vast resources available in D.C."
The Capitol was selected as the subject for the inaugural title for three reasons: the building had celebrated its bicentennial in 2000; no program of this kind had ever been produced; and its creation would "help fulfill the mission" of the USCHS
.The disc's content, as well as its "look and feel," were the result of a 16-month joint effort among Cheng, Crawford, D.C. producers John Harrington, Kamer Davis, and Lisa Hartgens, and USCHS, which provided many of the slides, photographs, and video and film footage, as well as all necessary clearances.
"There were many challenges in producing this DVD, including not being able to film commercially in the Capitol and securing all of the necessary archival materials," Cheng
says.During the scripting process, the development team worked extensively with an advisory board consisting of three historians and two curators."Any copy presented either graphically or orally had to be reviewed by board members prior to final scripting because history is interpretive.In terms of the creative process, I would not have done anything differently," she
Upon finalization of the script, the development team conducted interviews and captured exterior shots using a Panasonic AJ-D700 camera in DVC Pro format.Video elements were edited using a Panasonic Postbox nonlinear editing system, encoded using Panasonic's DAS 2000 DVD authoring system, and authored using Sonic Scenarist.Total production costs approached $200,000.
Even before its release, the title generated industry buzz by earning three DVD Excellence Awards from the DVD Association
for its added value and special features, menu quality and presentation, and navigation design and implementation.Also in March, 650 copies were distributed in a special ceremony to members of the 107th Congress
, the governors of all 50 states, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Cabinet Secretaries, and officers of the House and Senate. (The title also was a 2001 Discus Award finalist in the "Best Instructive DVD" category-Ed.)
says Heritage Series'
next project will center on the Supreme Court; the company was still in discussions to develop the title late last year.Meanwhile, the events of September 11 and subsequent anthrax infestations at the Capitol have yet to impact sales of A Vision in Stone, for better or worse."In light of what's happened, we believe this disc will provide a great service to American citizens and visitors to the United States who have an interest in our history and democratic principles," she
says."Given that tours of the Capitol have been limited-if not permanently halted-for security reasons, A Vision in Stone now offers a breadth of information literally unavailable anywhere else."
(Heritage Series, LLC/Television Production Services, 6100 29th Street NW, Washington, DC 20015-1508; 202/244-2005; http://www.tpsvideo.com/.U.S. Capitol Historical Society
, 200 Maryland Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002; 202/543-8919 http://www.uschs.org/.)