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Tyler's Movie debut(2 posts)

Tyler's Movie debutUprwstsdr
Aug 5, 2003 4:55 PM
From Today's NY Times:

From a Speeding Bicycle, a Look at the Brain

ARIS — Early on during this year's Tour de France, the American cyclist Tyler Hamilton stumbled out of a crash with two fractures in his collarbone, an anxious time for him, his teammates and family. To JoAnna Baldwin Mallory and Bayley Silleck, the accident threatened an elaborate project.

The pair were leading a crew of 48 people filming Mr. Hamilton's experiences at the three-week bicycle race to create an IMAX movie about the human brain. Backed by Partners HealthCare, a Boston-based hospital group, and with $3 million in National Science Foundation financing, the two realized they might lose the star of their $9 million production.

"Frankly, I was at a loss as to what to do," said Mr. Silleck, the director of the film tentatively titled "Brain Power." "I was prepared to jump out a window at that point."

But Mr. Hamilton not only stayed in the race despite his painful injury, he won one of the Tour's most difficult daily races, or stages, and finished fourth over all behind his former teammate Lance Armstrong.

Sitting in the television production area adjacent to the Tour's finish line along the Champs Élysées, Ms. Baldwin Mallory, the film's senior producer, talked about the film's genesis and Mr. Hamilton's role.

A former documentary producer, Ms. Baldwin Mallory has been managing an office for new ventures at HealthPartners for the last five years.

"We train doctors," she said. "When we talked about extending that mission to looking at partners as an institution that also engages in public science education, not just professional education, we received a great deal of support at the top."

Since IMAX theaters, which typically have screens about seven stories high, are often situated in science centers, they seemed an obvious way to extend Partners' teaching role to a wider public.

And the idea of using the Tour de France was immediately appealing, said Dr. Dennis J. Selkoe, a professor of neurological diseases at Harvard and an adviser to the film.

"My initial reaction was that this was a very smart and clever way to illustrate the healthy brain," he said. "The rider is using the mind to integrate a huge amount of information and executing a plan to beat the competition."

Rolling to the starting line for the final stage of the Tour, Mr. Hamilton spoke enthusiastically about IMAX films, and his participation in this one. "I thought this film was a good idea and also good for the sport of cycling," he said.

The on-screen images of brain activity won't actually be from the race, since no one can ride a bicycle and undergo a PET scan at the same time. And while some scans of Mr. Hamilton's brain activity will probably be made, many of the medical images will be from other people.

"We're not looking for something that's in his brain but not in the rest of us," Mr. Silleck said. "We're simply using his brain as a metaphor for everybody's brain."

A portion of the film dealing with perception will move between what Mr. Hamilton sees on the road, say the summit of a mountain pass, and medical images showing how different areas of the brain work together to create vision. Other brain concepts will be explained with graphics. One sequence, for example, is likely to show how Mr. Hamilton sorts through a variety of conflicting and powerful brain messages: feelings of pain, fatigue, thirst and hunger, screams from spectators, memories of his daily race strategy and the image of a fast looming pothole. Mr. Silleck's current plan is to have artists create a "vast legislature of Tyler Hamilton's mind."

"Every few thousandths of a second your brain is making a decision on what to do and then sending out messages to the motor cortex and then to the muscles and the nerves," Mr. Silleck said. "There are a lot of competi
Arnold's getting old...jesse1
Aug 6, 2003 4:10 AM
...maybe Tyler will replace him in T4!