Spotlight : May 1998

A 30th Anniversary Tribute to 2001, a discussion with Con Pederson

Return to Part One of the Interview

Aladino V. Debert: Tell us about "The Ride."

Con Pederson: Well, it was part of the bedroom sequence. It was a kind of time warp where he (Bowman) ages and goes into a sort of solitary confinement. It was one of the things that had attracted me from the original script. Originally it was a rather ordinary hotel in the very first script. The idea behind it was that the extraterrestrials wanted to provide for the emissary from human society who had passed their test and had got that far, which is what this part is all about; the idea that you can qualify for the next stage in evolution. So, the point was that after you went through the labyrinth, so to speak, they gave you this hotel room to make you feel more comfortable. They didn't get into communicating by language or telepathy or anything like that. It was the idea of providing comfort. The way you would make a basket for a puppy.

The trip itself was kind of a slide show. You don't know if Bowman is truly going through the cosmos or dimensions, or if he's given that experience in an artificial manner, or hallucinatory. It turns out that the success of the film in the subsequent

Two frames from "The Ride" sequence from 2001.
years with the younger generation was the fact that it had hallucinatory effects to the audience; with color, music and motion. This business of traveling on the Z axis into the screen like that has always bored me, but people seem to like it. Like "Star Trek," I remember, where they would do warp speed things and they would shoot into the stars. The people in the theater would be all ohhs and aahhs, and I always thought it was very corny. I couldn't understand why that was so exciting to people. But I don't go in for roller coasters or anything that involves extreme speed or motion because it terrifies me.

Debert: I think it has to do with the sensation of going into the screen, of becoming part of the experience...

Pederson: I have a problem using the screen as an excuse to create a lot of energy, but special effects movies seem to be thriving because people want to go and have a big screen experience. Sadly, there are too many car crashes and too much gasoline being wasted on it for my taste. I really don't think they are all that imaginative.

Debert: About "The Ride" again, would like to tell me a little about the technical aspects of it, mainly how did you do it?

Pederson: It was really based in what Stanley had done before in New York. There were a couple of guys who had a company, called Effects-U-All. They were using paint and some kind of solvents to create lava lamp-like effects. When you heated up a surface, this paints would mix and swirl, it was really beautiful. And they had certain chemicals that were really effective. By shooting at, say, 72 frames a second, the stuff would slow down and you could really appreciate the textures and color. They had tried a bunch of these things with Stanley standing by in NYC, so when I was there in the Spring of '65, I saw some of that footage and was really taken by it. They were just playing music with it at the time, and it was just amazing. I thought it would look really good.

We really used that as a demo, and nothing else, except Stanley's reputation, to sell the whole idea . At that time, a special effects movie budget of 5 million dollars was a lot of money. We also used some gadgets and projection material, and a lot of things that we would project onto objects. We would then combine all the different plates. We did that also on the scene with the trapezoids. It was called the "mind-bender" scene... I didn't think much of it, but Stanley liked the idea of having some sharp geometry to combine with the "black monolith" at the beginning and end of the movie.

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