Followers of the Centenary Tour de France will know that CSC's Tyler Hamilton - the marbleman from Marblehead, Mass, as fellow US pro Jonathan Vaughters calls him - was being immortalised on 70mm film by IMAX movie-makers, a coup for CSC, the Tour de France, and Hamilton.
Tugboat, Hamilton's dog, was also filmed, and will no doubt be able to negotiate his own dog-food sponsorship deals from now on...
'Brainpower' is due to be released at the end of 2004 and will be 40-minutes long. It's not a film about the Tour itself, it's an exploration of how the brain works, and specifically, how the brain deals with pain, stress, and tactics. The film's director, Bayley Silleck, said:
"We chose the Tour de France to show how the human brain works because behind every great athlete is a great mind."
And these great minds are also great at blocking pain. Tyler Hamilton was always going to be the featured rider but when he broke his collarbone in a pile-up on the first stage, the movie-makers thought they would have to pack-up and go home. Hamilton decided to ride on; the bulky IMAX cameras continued to roll.
"The movie is about the human brain, but we chose the Tour as a backdrop because it has all the elements," said Silleck
"It's about the human mind, those intangible things we call willpower. How athletes make the difference between success and failure."
Sillick believes he's got some of the best-ever film footage of the Tour, thanks to the four IMAX cameras, one of which was remote-controlled and suspended from a helicopter.
In post-production work, race images will be digitally-spliced with computer-generated graphics to illustrate the brain at work during the action of the Tour.
These graphics will be created by Movida/Trix, the digital studio of nWave Pictures of Greenwich, CT, which is handling the IMAX distribution rights.
'Brainpower' is being produced by the Office of New Ventures of Partners HealthCare, Inc., Boston, a specialist in neuroscience, with extra funding from the National Science Foundation of the US. Partners HealthCare is a non-profit organisation founded by Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Mark Katz, president of nWave Pictures Distribution, told BikeBiz.com that 'Brainpower' will be released in three 70mm IMAX formats as well as a 15-minute 3D version that will be distributed by nWave to specialty film markets and high definition video markets.
"The 40 minute large format film will be available in all 70mm film formats, but primarily in 15/70, 8/70 and 10/70. There will also be a shorter version in Digital 3D. All versions are scheduled for release in the fall of 2004. We hope the majority of giant screen theatres worldwide will eventually license the film," said Katz.
"Apart from its outstanding reputation for providing the kind of breakthrough digital technology critical to this film, nWave Pictures is uniquely positioned to extend the exposure of the film beyond the large format platform and help Partners HealthCare convey its message to the broadest possible audience."
And this has got to be good for the popular image of cycling.