|3D Theaters Teach Powerful Lessons About Drinking and Driving
|Ever since the Model T Ford first rolled onto the highways, teenagers have underestimated the dangers of drinking and driving, too often with tragic consequences. StrayLight Corp. and the Cook County (Chicago) Sheriff's Department decided that something new and innovative needed to be done to combat this national problem. StrayLight designed a tractor-trailer based 3D stereoscopic theater and a production entitled: "Dead-On", which the Cook County Sheriffs bring daily to regional Chicago high schools. Since the beginning of the school year, tens of thousands of students have already experienced the show. While the special 3D effects make the audience feel like they're on a thrill ride, they soon discover that intoxicated driving is no thrill.
StrayLight conceived and produced the five-minute 3D production. While blood and guts films have been used for almost half a century to lecture students, StrayLight knew that they had to do something different. Tony Asch, the show's producer notes: "We screened literally hundreds of hours of driver's-ed footage. Universally these films center around an adult authority figure preaching at children." The StrayLight team knew there had to be a better way to tell such a compelling story. StrayLight already had a great initial attraction with their 3D technology and therefore the show would certainly have a large and eager audience. The production challenge was to hold the audience's attention while presenting this disturbing topic.
StrayLight used several innovative approaches in creating this film. The entire story is told casually, in the first person, from the perspective of one of the main characters, a high school senior. He uses his camcorder to capture the daily lives of his graduating high school class. StrayLight's team felt that a story told by peers would be much more effective than an adult centric story. Producer Asch says: "We had a basic rule during the shoot, that adults simply do not speak in this show."
Conventional driver's-ed films focus on the immediate consequences of death, especially the use of gore, to drive home their point. While "Dead-On" offers up a touch of gore, the real emphasis is on the long-term consequences of drinking and driving. As in Frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life", "Dead-On" takes an excruciating look at a world the dead victims have left behind. Unlike the Capra film, there's no going back.
Several smaller touches helped "Dead-On" to resonate with its teen audience. The sound track is underpinned with several music beds, which were composed especially for this project with an ear toward an alternative rock style which would feel familiar to the show's viewers and which would set the desired emotional tone for each scene. The point-of-view camera style and fast paced editing achieved a personal, yet exciting feel for the show, one that is familiar to music-television viewers. StrayLight also held several pre-release test screenings in front of high school age audiences, and as a consequence, re-edited the show after each screening in response to the audience's reactions.
"Dead-On" tours as a projected 3D theater inside a large towed trailer. Up to 30 students don special 3D glasses as they enter, and are then seated on special motion chairs to watch the large screen show inside the trailer. Because the 3D Virtual Theater is portable, Cook County Sheriffs are able to present to different schools each day of the week. Over the course of the school year, all students in the region are exposed to the show.
"Dead-On" was launched to the high school public in Sept. and has been touring non-stop throughout the school year.