Chapter 4

The Tortoise and the Hare(1986)

narrated by the late great Gilda Radner

Gilda was a genius who brought comedy to new levels of art form. While she lived, her independence and visionary talents entertained countless millions of fans and continues to do so today long after her passing. In 1986 Gilda, along with Reading Rainbow, brought the timeless literature of Aesop to new generations of American readers through her narration of The Tortoise and the Hare. This particular book was a modern retelling and illustration of the classic Aesop fable by Janet Stevens. Outside of this presentation on Reading Rainbow, I can think of no other national television presentation of an Aesop Fable during the 80's, 90's or even today which has had the audience exposure that this episode had. Indeed, this particular episode was the first to earn Reading Rainbow an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Children's Series. Gilda's classic voice captured the nature of each character. There was Mouse, Bear, the cheering crowd, the overly proud Hare and of course the ever persistent and eventually race winning Tortoise. Gilda at the end conveys the moral of this classic fable with Tortoise exclaiming , "Hard work and perseverance bring reward" This is a fitting statement for Gilda's life.

Technical Stuff: The Rainbow Cyber Cam(RCC) explored the pictures of the book so as to provide a sense of the action of the race. The RCC performed off centered zooms (pan combined with a zoom, starting at a location which is not the center of the picture) to convey the fast start of the Hare and the slow start of the Tortoise. In the case of the tortoise the RCC performed a very slow off centered zoom starting with a full shot of the Tortoise and slowly moving (at 1/2000 of an inch precision) to his foot.

Note the fast RCC curved pan which happens after the Hare's visit to Mouse's House. This effectively conveyed Hare's desperate sprint to outpace the Tortoise who was constantly moving ahead while the overly proud Hare was slacking off.

Horizontal camera motions on the pictures involved X and Y axes of motion while the Z axis involved the motion of the camera going up and down. Curved pans with zooms involved setting differing acceleration/deceleration factors for each of the axes of motion X, Y and Z.


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