Samuel de Champlain documentary earns national recognition

PLATTSBURGH - Mountain Lake PBS has received a national award for "Dead Reckoning: Champlain in America."

The public television station won its first National Educational Telecommunications Association Award for Content Production for the 2010 documentary during NETA's annual conference held recently in Nashville, Tenn.

Colin Powers, director of production and programming for Mountain Lake PBS, accepted the award on behalf of the local PBS station, calling its an honor "coming from a group of peers in the television industry.

"I was happy to be the face of the station accepting the award," he said. "I was certainly involved in every aspect of the project, but I accepted it on behalf of the dozens of people here and our partnering organizations who made this happen. You don't do a production of any scale without a lot of teamwork and when you get into this kind of complexity, it's a big, big collaboration with a lot of people."

"Dead Reckoning: Champlain in America," is an hour-long, state-of-the-art animated documentary produced by Mountain Lake PBS detailing the exploration of North America by Frenchman Samuel de Champlain. The project - produced in recognition of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial marked last year - was a bold leap for Mountain Lake PBS, which has traditionally produced documentaries featuring live actors, said Powers.

"This was really stepping out for PBS into an area that it hasn't typically addressed," he said. "The key was to do that without turning off our more mature audiences who are used to a reenactment-type documentary."

"The response has been very enthusiastic," he added.

The advantage of producing an animated documentary, said Powers, was that it gave creators more creative license with putting people back in the time of Champlain during the early 1600s.

"It had much more attention to detail than we would have ever been able to do if we had reenacted it," said Powers. "Everything you see in the film has been meticulously researched and cross-checked, whether it's the exact firearms being used or the utensils or the buildings themselves or even more subtle things like body types."

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