Above photograph is of the video editing suite at Century III Teleproductions on the backlot at Universal Studios Orlando circa 1990.
Century III Teleproductions was originally founded in Boston By Ross Cibella back in July 1976, and named to celebrate the beginning of the third century of this Republic.
Ross bought Bee Jay Recording Studios on Eggleston Street in Orlando from Eric Schabacker in 1984 and Dick Mathis was made General Manager of the facility. They stopped halfway into the rebuild and Dick left. Engineer Miles Ptacek stayed on to take care of things while they decided what to do next. Rich Parent took over the project and Century III Teleproductions opened in September 1985. Miles Ptacek and Oliver Peters co-managed the facility with Rich Parent, who was Vice President of Operations in Boston. Rich played a pivotal role in the facility in Orlando; he was the person who made Ross Cibella’s ideas come to life. The sales people at Century III in Orlando answered to Lee Rubenstein, Vice President of Sales in Boston, so we operated as if we were just another installation across town, rather than a separate company in another state.
In 1988, Century III was successful in their bid with Universal to become the exclusive vendor of post production services on the lot. We were also on the list of possible companies for Disney-MGM Studios, but that went to The Post Group from Los Angeles. We occupied approximately 30,000 sq. ft. of the vendor building at Universal, but only about 10,000 was actually built out. The rest was expansion space. Later we built into part of the bay behind, so by the end, I think about 12,500 or so, was finished off. In addition, a small insert stage in the unfinished other 10,000 sq. ft. area was built.
Century III moved into the Universal space in late 1988 and the Eggleston facility was closed in 1989 after the move was completed. Coincidentally, Ross sold the Boston operation at that same time, making Century III Orlando the only operating part of the company. — Oliver Peters
Above: In the Summer of 1988, Universal Studios Resort Orlando opened a state of the art film production complex. The Studios in Florida were designed by a team of experts headed up by Bill DeCinces and Ray Brandt. The production facilities included sound stages, technical center, production service center, support building and a teleport. The technical center was capable of providing set construction, blacksmith, sheet metal, paint and furniture refinishing, sign shop, electric shop, machine shop, animation effects, plumbing services. The production service center including several independent companies: Lee Lighting, Century III Teleproductions, Panavision, Costume Rentals Corporation, Polyeffect, Chloe, Unitel Video, DISC, Trans America Catering, and Warren Sound Company. View the Universal backlot production facilities brochure announcing the opening projected for the Summer of 1988.
At the Universal installation we provided video and film editing, film-to-tape transfer, audio editing and mixing, graphics and animation. We later added a 40 ft+ mobile truck, satellite uplink/downlink services, fiber optics support to the sound stages and a production unit within the company. Debra Cibella ran the production unit. Ross also bought out Warren Sound (Howard Warren) at Universal. This added film editing services and operating the 35mm film screening room within Building 22A (the producers’ building) at Universal.
When we moved to Universal in 1988, we were working on the first series shot there, “The New Leave It To Beaver Show”. We provided film-to-tape transfer and editing support to that show. Other TV series included “The Adventures of Superboy”, “Super Force”, “Swamp Thing”, “Fortune Hunter” and “The Newz”. Plus other shows, pilots and feature films. The most recognized film done was “Christopher Columbus” (the one with Tom Selick and Marlin Brando) – a Salkind Production (same exec producer as Superboy). Century III did all the post production sound editing and mixing. All totaled, Century III did hundreds of hours of films and TV shows, plus commercials, corporate videos, themed attraction videos, etc.
At the peak in the early 90s, we were doing three television series simultaneously (Super Boy, Super Force, Swamp Thing) and had as many as 75 people on staff (full time, freelance and part time). After the 2002 economic downturn, Century III couldn’t hang on. Ross attempted to sell the company, but it was eventually closed. — Oliver Peters
LISTEN (13:04) to Oliver Peters interviewed by his wife and Orlando Public Library staff member, Kim Peters, in May 2011.
INTERVIEWER: If you search Orlando Memory for the name Oliver Peters or Century III you’ll find info on theme parks, tourist attractions, museums, Jimmy Buffet and motion pictures you may not have seen, but should. Oliver’s involvement in most of these projects was as producer or videotape editor while employed at Century III Teleproductions – a video post production facility located on the back lot at Universal Studios Orlando.
Century III closed its doors many years ago, but Oliver is still editing video, teaching video production, conducting seminars, and writing for Videography magazine. Oliver is here today to tell us about Century III during the years Orlando was known as “Hollywood East.”
Welcome Oliver. I appreciate your taking the time to share your memories with Orlando Memory.
OLIVER: Thanks. Glad to be a part of this.
INTERVIEWER: I understand that you were part of the original staff of Century III when the company relocated from Boston to Orlando in 1985. Give us a brief background on Century III and how it was chosen to be the post production facility on the back lot at Universal Studios.
OLIVER: Century III started out as a branch office of the Boston facility. It was a post production company doing commercials and corporate videos. When the Studios started opening up, both Universal Studios and Disney, we had the opportunity to become the resident facility at Universal Studios and that was a concession that they made available to a number of companies around the country. We happened to win the chance to be part of it, and were involved in a number of shows and projects from the time they started until we moved off the lot.
INTERVIEWER: Who were the main people involved with Century III in the Boston facility and when you moved to Orlando?
OLIVER: Century III was owned by Ross Cibella and the company down here was managed by Miles Ptacek and both he and I answered to Rich Parent who was the head of engineering and operations in Boston. Rich and Miles were largely responsible for the original design and construction of the facility which was in the old Bee Jay Recording Studios.
INTERVIEWER: If people would like to find out more about Bee Jays Recording Studio we have a number of album images and song clips on Orlando Memory that were given to us by Eric Schabacker who had been the owner of Bee Jays at one time.
During your time at Century III you were on the back lot at Universal Studios, and the Florida Governor, Jeb Bush at the time, was actively promoting the state as Hollywood East Century III benefited from that, and at the time, Century III was involved in the post production for a number of television series, films, and theme park videos. That must have been an exciting time, probably pretty busy, but exciting all the same.
OLIVER: We had a lot of fun doing that. We were involved in quite a lot of different television shows that were being shot on the lot at Universal Studios as well as various feature films being done in and around the area. Some of those included on the TV show side, The Adventures of Super Boy, Swamp Thing, Fortune Hunter, and Super Force. There was also the first one that got us started which was the last season of The New Leave It To Beaver Show. So, it was fun watching some of those people as they came through the lot and I occasionally got to see some of the taping.
The various feature films that we worked on, some of those included the First of May and the Michael Winslow Live film and we were also involved in some more non-traditional projects done for museums and theme parks. We did some of the work that was at Universal Studios itself, including some of the sound design for the original King Kong ride when it went up there. We also did videos for Margaritaville which is the Jimmy Buffet attraction at City Walk and also the Bob Marley restaurant. We also edited video for his album Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Above: My husband Oliver Peters was editing video for Jimmy Buffett’s new album “Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays” and mentioned that he was working with one of Jimmy’s people named Mike Ramos. I nearly fell off my chair! If you are a Buffett fan, you will remember that the album “Banana Wind” has a hidden track. There is dialogue leading up to the beginning of the song where Jimmy sounds like he is fumbling around looking for the hidden track and at one point he shouts, “Ramos, where’s the hidden track?” I asked my husband if he would get Ramos to autograph my CD. I also asked him to tell Ramos that I was the person who left a huge basket of goodies at the Orena (former Orlando Arena) several years earlier including all Jimmy’s favorites. To my surprise, Mike Ramos remembered the basket of goodies delivered by the security staff from a lady named Kim Peters, and told my husband that I should come and get the autograph in person. I met Mike Ramos in the video editing suite at Century III Teleproductions on the back lot of Universal Studios in the fall of 1999. Mike was most kind and even insisted on taking my CD and getting Jimmy to sign it as well! When he found out I was going to see Jimmy perform at the Orena, he gave us backstage passes to a preview party! The friend I was going with was in an auto accident that night so, unfortunately, we were not able to attend the party.
INTERVIEWER: I understand ya’ll also did some work for Madam Tussauds in New York and for the Smithsonian.
OLIVER: That’s correct. The Madam Tussauds Wax Museum did a tour of New York that was sort of an animated virtual tour projected on a dome, and we produced the actual program including all the animation that included live actors, as well, and we did the whole production on that.
Read Business Wire article.
Read article from Computer Graphics World September 2000 edition on the Madam Tussaud’s “It Happened in New York” CGI effects.
Caption Above: Century III Teleproductions Universal Studios – Orlando, Florida, produced “It Happened in New York” a digital theater production for Madam Tussauds Wax Museum in New York in September 2000. CIII founder, Ross Cibella acted as creative director along with Michael Daut. The CGI staff at CIII created backgrounds for the production for viewing on the domed screening room at Madam Tussauds in New York that allowed audiences to be transported to landmarks throughout New York as they were taken on a tour of the city in the back of a horse drawn carriage. This is a scene for the digital theater production featuring an actress playing the role of Marilyn Monroe. The green screen is used so the live action can be imposed over CGI scenes of New York. The live action was filmed in Orlando at Century III Teleproductions at Universal Studios. Madam Tussauds New York Project.
OLIVER: For the Smithsonian, we actually did the video for a museum called the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum which is in Memphis in the old Gibson guitar factory. And this was the Smithsonian’s first effort in doing something outside of their normal environment, actually being involved in content for other museums both private and public. They had gone through a process of recording interviews with all of the iconic musicians and studio owners involved in creating the Memphis sound and we had the opportunity to work with a lot of the files which made for a really interesting program about the history about both the origins of rock and roll and soul music. Read Avid Pro Net article on the production.
INTERVIEWER: Now, I know Century III was not just involved with editing. I know on your work that you did for Madam Toussads ya’ll actually shot the video against green screens that you had set up in a studio in your facility. What other types of things did you do in addition to editing on some of the projects that you had there?
OLIVER: Well, Century III was a full service company, so we did, in addition to video editing, we also did extensive graphics work including 3-D animation. As you mentioned Madam Tussauds involved both live action and animation of the entire city of New York – 3D replicas of the buildings and so on. We also had an extensive audio department that did sound recording and mixing, obviously on the TV shows that I’d mentioned before but we also did films. For instance, one of the two Christopher Columbus films that played internationally around the world, we did all of the sound on one of the films. And that included everything from sound effects all the way through to a finished mix.
INTERVIEWER: I understand that CIII also did work for several of the theme parks here in the Orlando area. I know one of which was Splendid China and that has closed, but you worked on…had something special to do with the ET Ride that was there [at Universal Studios] and also at EPCOT. What can you tell us about those?
OLIVER: Well when the park opened up at Universal we did sound design for various attractions and that included ET. When the ET character says all the different names of the people going through the attraction [at the end of the ride], the recording of all the variations of those names was something we were involved in and also installing where the various sound effects occurred throughout the ride.
Caption Above: IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is a show, performed nightly at Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. It premiered on October 1, 1999 as IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth as part of the Walt Disney World Millennium Celebration; it was so successful that after the celebration ended the 2000 was dropped from the name and the show was continued. It was previously presented by General Electric, and now Siemens, at a cost of approximately $17,000 per show.
Disney hosted VIPs, the Press, and individuals who worked on the project “Reflections of Earth Team Members” to a gala preview on September 30, 1999. The park was closed early and guests were bussed to the backstage area entering adjacent to the China Pavilion. The chefs at each of the nations around the world showcase created masterful culinary treats for those in attendance. Fresh strudel in the courtyard at Germany, whole pigs cooked over pits in Morocco, delicate pastries in France, to mention a few.
Oliver Peters, was the editor at Century III Teleproductions at Universal Studios responsible for the video on the Earth globe, so we were invited to the gala event.
INTERVIEWER: The biggest project you worked on was Illuminations which is Reflections of Earth at EPCOT. Can you tell us a little about what role CIII played in that and you in particular, and how long it took to get to the final video we see on the large earth globe at EPCOT?
OLIVER: Right, that was designed and started in time for the Millennium Celebration, so it’s been running over ten years at this point [debut was at EPCOT October 1, 1999]. And we produced the video content that you see projected on the earth globe which is a 30 foot tall structure and the images are actually shown on what amounts to LED signs. So, we produced that as video and worked on that for about a year. And that included a little bit of R&D (research and development) trying to figure out what kind of images would actually be recognizable as well as actually doing the content.
I was involved not only in organizing and editing but sort of working as the co-project manager on that. Any of these projects take a lot of different people and in that case we had a team on and off throughout the year of probably a dozen different people involved in the project including Craig Stickler who was an art director on the project and Fawn Trivette who was one of the lead artists and compositors. We also had live action. At the very end of the presentation there’s a sequence of people handing off a torch and lamps and candles from one person to another, so the recording of those various actors was done by Jack Tinsley who is a director here in town.
Caption: Individuals who played roles in the creation of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth Millennium reunited at EPCOT on September 30, 2009, for a 10 year reunion of the premiere of Reflections of Earth on September 30, 1999. This is the group photo of all those present. Oliver Peters is second from the left in the middle row. Read about the Grand Millennium Celebration.
INTERVIEWER: And this was all coordinated through Don Dorsey Productions?
OLIVER: Yes, Don was the show director which is a position that theme parks have for the person involved in designing the creative design of a show and seeing it through to its end. So Don was responsible for all creative aspects of the show. Not just our part, but also the music, the lasers, the fireworks and interfacing with the Disney management and getting the job done.
Caption Above: This two sided silver coin was presented to persons involved in the “Illuminations 2000: Reflections of Earth” project that debuted at Epcot on October 1, 1999.
Caption: Don Dorsey is an American audio production consultant, and a designer and director of fireworks and nighttime spectacular shows (including IllumiNations and Sorcery in the Sky.) From 1975 to 1992 he served as the main audio recording and post-production engineer for the Entertainment Division of Disneyland Park, manning console knobs and faders for recording sessions with Mickey and his cohorts, and for musical groups which ran the gamut from bagpipes, steel drums and accordion to marching band, 100-voice choir and symphony orchestra. While working with Disney, Don also worked with a number of pop musicians, including Quincy Jones, Sergio Mendez, and Donna Summer.His electronic arrangements and performances for Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade have been heard by an estimated 100 million Disney park guests around the world (as of 1997). In 1984 he produced the score for Laserphonic Fantasy and IllumiNations in 1988.Don continues to develop new entertainment projects and technology for Disney parks around the world, and in 1999 he directed IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, to celebrate the new millennium.
INTERVIEWER: And Orlando Memory is really happy that Don Dorsey provided us with some images of the trips to China to select the proper fireworks and also the recording of some of the music that was done at Abby Roads in London. In all your years at Century III, there any experiences that stand out or any individuals that you met that you would like to tell us about?
OLIVER: Well, sure. During the time we were on the lot at Universal Studios a lot of interesting people passed through there. We had a chance to meet with Steven Spielberg (at the Star Trek Experience during the grand opening). Of course we worked with a number of the actors on the various shows. We did a movie that included Ernest Borgnine (Hoover) and he’s an interesting character. Of course, we also were involved in lots of different projects that really related to the start of a lot of production activity in the Central Florida area. For instance, that was the time period when Valencia College started up their film technology program and we were very actively involved in a number of the projects that they brought through in classes there. There was a very active high school video competition that Universal Studios was involved in and we met some folks like Jim Hensen and Robert Duval who came through at one point doing audio work in our studio.
Read about the Sherman Hemsley project.
Caption Above: Notification that the film “Hoover” by Pamplin-Fisher Company was submitted for consideration as a potential nominee for an Academy Award. Best Actor: Ernest Borgnine, Producers: Ernest Borgnine, Robert W. Fisher, Rick Pamplin, Writing: Robert W. Fisher, Rick Pamplin, Director: Rick Pamplin, Art Direction: Holly Payberg, Cinematography: Stephen F. Campbell, Film Editing: Oliver Peters, Sound: Joe Foglia, C.A.S., Makeup-Hair: Tracey L. Johnson, Music: Rick Silanskas. View larger image.
INTERVIEWER: That sounds interesting! CIII closed around 2003 and you left in 2002 to start your own company. What type of activities are you involved in with your own company?
OLIVER: Well, I continue working in the post production field primarily as an editor and a colorist, but I’m also involved in overall post production supervision. I’ve worked on various projects for area clients; a lot for the Walt Disney World Company. In the last few years I’ve done projects such as a series of videos for the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina and other projects that include local documentaries and films as well as television commercials and training videos. I am also involved as a speaker and as a writer and I’ve been to various seminars and things like that giving instruction in post production processes and various aspects of the industry.
INTERVIEWER: Well, it seems that you really enjoy editing and all the aspects of post production. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today.
Caption Above: Century III Teleproductions – Univesal Studios Florida received the Local Gold Addy award for Visual, Video/Film Effects, Special Effects in 1994 for AT&T Connections: Visions of the Future. Producer: Debra Cibella, Editing Supervisor: Mike Elias, Audio Engineers: Dave Howe, Dana Meeks, Director: Bob Wiemer, Executive Producer: Henry Bassman, Technical Advisor/Editor: Oliver Peters, Graphic Designers: Curtis Sponsler, Jenny Hines.
Caption Above: Century III Teleproductions – Universal Studios Florida received the 2000 Local Gold Addy Award for Visual and Audio Elements of Advertising: Video/Film Animation or Special Effects for Walt Disney World Reflections of Earth by the Orlando Avertising Federation. Creative Director: Don Dorsey, Art Director: Craig Stickler, Editors: Oliver Peters, Dave Harrison, Kenneth Montgomery, Tom Breslin, Designer/Compositor: Fawn Trivette, Director-Live Action: Jack Tinsley, Deisgner/3D Animator: Ed Gross, Vince Pedulla, Project Manager: Jeff Friedman, Account Executive: Brendan Sweeney. Note: Fawn Trivette was murdered by her boyfriend on July 27, 2005.
Caption Above: Century III Teleproductions – Universal Studios Florida received the 2000 Local Silver Addy Award for N’ Sync Concert Video – Christmas Special for Visual and Audio Elements of Advertising Video/Film Animation or Special Effects by the Orlando Advertising Federation. Creative Director: Jack Tinsley, Art Director: Thomas Graham, Designer: Vince Pedulla, Designer Fawn Trivette, Producer: Brent Wilson, Editors: Ken Montgomery, Oliver Peters, Bob Bass, Account Executive: Kristi Miller. Note: Fawn Trivette was murdered by her boyfriend on July 27, 2005.
Caption Above: AV Video Multimedia Producer magazine selects 100 individuals each year who represent the best producers in the business. Producers are selected who have raised the standard for non-entertainment media. Each spring nominations are requested from peers and clients, asking them to identify the producers who they feel exemplify the highest standards in the industry. Several criteria are considered, including success in growing a business, success in fulfilling a client’s demands and, especially, demonstrable creative passion for the work of producing dynamic media for business. Late in the summer, the editorial staff reviews the nominees’ projects and qualifications and narrows the stack of prospects down to the Top 100. Century III’s senior Oliver Peters was included in the top 100 for 2001.
Century III staff members mentioned in the Orlando Sentinel.
Century III was featured in the 1988 Florida Production Guide
Century III at Universal Studios has a listing and advertisement in the 1992 Florida Production Sourcebook. A copy can be found in the Florida History collection at the Orlando Public Library (call number FLORIDA COLLECTION 338.47791 FLO).
CENTURY III at Universal Studios – Film and Video – Pamela Lapp
2000 Universal Studios Plaza, Orlando, FL 32818 – 407-354-1000 FAX 407-352-8662
Complete on-line/off-line computer editing for video and film post production. Digital recording, audio editing and mixing available, Synclavier sound design and composition, SFX libraries, 2-D/3-D computer animation, 16/35mm film transfer, C/K-U Band Satellite Uplink/downlink, Duplication, all formats.
Images, promotion materials and articles used with permission given to Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC, for inclusion in this post.
Peruse all the images, documents and links below under attachments.
Oliver Peters worked for Century III (CIII - Century 3) Teleproductions from 1985 until he left in 2002 to form his own company. Over the course of seventeen years, Oliver held the positions of videotape editor, project manager and operations manager. CIII was first located in the old Bee Jay Recording Studios on Eggleston Avenue in Winter Park, Florida, but relocated in 1989 to Universal Studios after being selected from many production houses to be the post production facility on the back lot at Universal Studios. During this time period, Orlando garnered the name "Hollywood East" due to the filming/taping and post production of films and television series in the Central Florida area.
Oliver is currently involved in production and post production of commercial and corporate projects; he is a writer for "Videography" and other industry magazines in print and online; he is a presenter at conventions around the country; a guest instructor at Valencia State College and Full Sail, and he shares his knowledge of editing systems and techniques as a consultant to television stations and production houses around the country. His web site is www.OliverPeters.com
The following interview took place in May 2011. The interviewer is his wife and Orlando Public Library staff member, Kim Peters.
Century III Teleproductions created video history for Smithsonian's first permanent exhibition outside of Washington, D.C. - Rock N Soul Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. Read this Avid Pro Net publication on the project.
When the Smithsonian Institution needed to visually capture the tempo of a vivid and charismatic period in American music history, they enlisted the talents of producer David Lawrence and the crew at Florida's Universal Studios. What results from the joint effort is a video presentation as eclectic and dynamic as the musicians being honored at the in Memphis, Tennessee — the first permanent Smithsonian exhibition outside of Washington, D.C.
Century III's senior editor Oliver Peters edited the "Social Crossroads" video.
Century III's Avid Symphony suite was featured in Digital Broadcasting edition 4/4/2001.
Century III added an Avid Symphony suite in 2001. Digital Broadcasting featured them in an article in the April 4, 2001 edition. Jeff Friedman of Century III was featured in the article.
Article in Post magazine from July 2001 on Owen Paul music video produced by Ross Cibella, founder and president of Century III Teleproductions at Universal Studios in Orlando.
Brochure created by Universal Studios to promote the backlot production facilities.