Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Alberta Venture celebrates top 250 companies issue with homage to iconic Fortune cover image

The homage
In a bold and complicated homage to an iconic magazine cover image, Alberta Venture is unveiling its September issue with its annual list of Alberta's 250 biggest companies. The windows of Calgary's Bow building are photographed lit up at dusk to spell out the number 250. It was, said a blog post from the magazine, "a symbol of Alberta’s rise to prominence on the national and international scenes and a poignant reminder of the spirit that allowed this province to recover quickly (for the most part) from the devastating June floods." In this it is giving full credit to the July 1964 cover of Fortune magazine which arranged to light up the windows of New York's Time & Life building (where the magazine was headquartered), a tour-de-force which has been long remembered by magazine mavens everywhere. The idea of the homage came from associate publisher Joyce Byrne and art director Kim Larson.

Unlike the art directors then, today's art directors have Photoshop and could have merely spliced the whole thing together on the desktop, whereas their inspiration had to be achieved by having the huge Time & Life building all dark then arrange to have only those offices lit which spelled out the number 500. In AV's case, the whole building was to be lit up, then windows would be darkened using the software to leave only those lit which spelled out 250. 
The inspiration

Photographer John Gaucher was commissioned by Larson to find a way to do it and came up with using as  his platform the two-storey Art Central building at Centre Street and Seventh Ave. SE as the shooting platform. With permission of Allied Properties REIT, the building's owners, the shoot was done on Thursday July 25 around dusk. Here's how things went (as seem in the video, below, and told in a blog post by AV's editor Mike Ganley.)
“You want to wait until the surrounding environmental light level is similar to what is going to come out of the building when the lights are on, so you set up and shoot over a period of time until the two match up.” 
Early on, things went sideways. There was lightning in the distance and rain was threatening. “It was sort of cloudy and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” Gaucher says. The three set up a main camera, which could not be moved after shooting started, plus two other cameras to take time-lapse images of the shoot. McCord also shot video of the whole thing. 
“Then the weather came in,” Gaucher says. “There was lightning all around us.” Larson went back down the ladder to ask the building’s security guard for garbage bags to cover the equipment. “I was waiting for it to be one of those Alberta thunderstorms, where it just opens up and really dumps on us, but it didn’t, thank God,” says Gaucher. “We were about as close as you could get without it getting ruined.”
 But the weather held. The good folk at H&R REIT, owners of the Bow, and Matthews Development, which runs it, had agreed to turn all the lights off in the building, and then turn them all on. But nothing was a sure bet. It had never been done before and nobody was sure it would work. 
At around 9:00 the building went all dark. Then, over the next hour, all the lights came on, a couple of floors at a time. By the time it was all lit up, the Bow was a golden beacon and if you looked at downtown Calgary that evening, you would surely have seen the display. 
Around 10 p.m. the three took down the equipment, headed back down the ladder and out for a well-deserved drink.

The Venture 250 | 2013 Cover Preview from Venture Publishing on Vimeo.

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