December 7, 1998
By Tim Stephens
A documentary video about UC's Lick Observatory won awards for best documentary and best camera work at the 16th annual Joey Awards banquet, held November 14 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose. The video, Lick Observatory: Over 100 Years of Discovery, won in both of the categories for which it was nominated.
The 28-minute video describes the history and achievements of Lick Observatory, a world-renowned facility for astronomical research and discovery. The observatory, located on Mount Hamilton, is operated by UC Observatories, a multicampus research unit with administrative headquarters on the UCSC campus.
Jeff Cowan, an associate producer at Tam Communications in San Jose, produced and directed the video and received the Joey award for best documentary. The award for best camera work went to director of photography Art Adams.
The documentary begins with the history of the observatory's founder, James Lick, then takes the viewer on a tour of the facility's astronomical instruments. It describes the telescopes housed on Mount Hamilton and explains their astronomical uses, both current and historical. The video also highlights the scientific discoveries made at Lick Observatory and anticipates future developments.
"This video provides an excellent overview of the history and scientific contributions of Lick Observatory, as well as of our future goals," said Joseph Miller, director of UC Observatories.
The documentary features breathtaking aerial photography of the observatory and of Mount Hamilton, footage of Lick's powerful telescopes, and photos from the observatory's archives. Interviews with Lick astronomers offer insights into astronomical research methods and reveal the dedication of these scientists to their field and to the observatory. The video also uses three-dimensional graphics to help illustrate the intricate workings of the equipment.
The video was designed for the general public, as well as for educators and associates of Lick Observatory. It will be available soon through the observatory's gift shop. Proceeds from sales of the video will help fund Lick Observatory's educational and community service efforts. All production services and equipment used for the project were donated, said Cowan, who is the grandson of former Lick Observatory principal optician Howard Cowan.
"Many people contributed to this production, and I wish to say how much we appreciate the time and effort donated to us by many generous and busy people," said Remington Stone, research astronomer and director of operations at Mount Hamilton.
Cowan worked with Stone and other Lick staff to develop the script. Animation and art were provided by Aaron Dingman, Sandra Silva, and dk blanar, all of Tam Communications. Ed Cook, also of Tam Communications, edited the video.
The Joey Awards, sponsored by the San Jose Film and Video Commission, recognize creative achievements in electronic and print media. There were 414 entries this year, a record number.
"The competition was very real," said Stone. "There is a lot of hot talent in the South Bay, with Silicon Valley money and technical expertise to back it up. [Cowan and Adams] certainly deserve their Joeys."
The Lick Observatory visitors' center is open to the public from 12:30 to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. For information, call (408) 274-5061.
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