On the occasion of the grand opening of AIP's first international office, in Beijing, I was asked to create a presentation that showed respect and appreciation on the part of AIP. It was also important to hint at the benefits to Chinese scientists of having greater access to AIP journals, as editors and reviewers.
This entire project was completed in 3 fast weeks: week one, I did prepro and shot the American interviews in Washington D.C. at AIP headquarters and at the University of Maryland College Park. Many thanks to Ted Knight of the University of Maryland for finding and scheduling the Chinese students and faculty we interviewed. It was amazing what we were able to accomplish with his help in such a short time... on the day of their Commencement exercises!
At the end of the first week, I flew home to try and tape some Chinese music in Seattle. Our great good fortune was that a cultural fair was occurring that weekend, and I was able to record the dress rehearsal of a traditional Chinese orchestra. Many thanks to Warren Chang of the Chinese Arts and Music Association for making this possible, and to the Benaroya Hall security office for allowing me to have full access to the stage and balconies.
Another important part of the music, I felt, would be to show Chinese musicians performing classical Western music. This, I felt, would reinforce the way in which Chinese scientists have become outstanding students of the scientific system developed by Westerners in the last century. So outstanding, that today the students are equaling and surpassing the teachers. Samson Lu, a violinist from the University of Washington, convened a trio and sight-read a Vivaldi sonata that the two of us picked out at UW's music library on the weekend.
And then there was the trip to Beijing. I wanted 4 days to edit the final piece upon return, so we were only able to go to Beijing for a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of shooting. With the help of AIP's Xingtao Ai and all the Chinese scientists she knew, we were able to gather interviews at 3 different institutions in the two days we had available: Tsingtao University, Peking University, and the Chinese Academy of Physics. It was exciting to both interview and gather footage of the research being conducted with Chinese doctoral students.
On the weekend, I wanted to shoot cultural iconography that would help pay respects to the amazing history and cultural heritage of China. I was hoping that the Great Wall, for example, would become a visual metaphor for the breaking down of barriers, and the dissolving of national differences in the study and dissemination of science.
I was delighted that the visuals I was able to capture accomplished that.
I was not prepared for the grandeur of the Temple of Heaven, which we shot on Saturday afternoon. Nor for the public celebrations that spontaneously occurred at the Olympic Village, where we went on Sunday.
In every way, this opportunity from AIP was a joy to participate in. I felt pre-wired to communicate well with the Chinese people. I loved their sense of symmetry, their sense of honor and protocol, even their sense of humor.
I have been told that the audience was very appreciative, and were pleasantly surprised by the humble tone and enthusiastic warmth toward China that was communicated to the dignitaries and academic partners that attended the meeting, less than a week after I returned from Beijing.
The footage in China was captured on a Sony HD camcorder fitted with a Letus Mini adapter and a variety of 35mm Nikon lenses.
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