Posts in Category: Broadcast History

The Paper Roll Teleprompters…A Funny Story

The Paper Roll Teleprompters…A Funny Story

I would love to hear your funny teleprompter stories, and I know there are a lot, but here’s the best one I’ve heard and it happened in Atlanta at WSB TV.

Back in the 50s and early 60s, a lot of local spot were still done live and stations had to keep talent and techs on studio duty, and they had to be ready to go on time. A veteran director at WSB, Roger Marx, told me that one of the announcers he worked with was really bad about walking into the studio just seconds before air with no run through. He asked him time and again to be early for at least one pass, but no amount of pleading worked, so….

One afternoon, it was a minute till air and this announcer was not on the set but, as usual, strolled in with only ten seconds till air. When the cue came, the prompter rolled the copy and Mr. Tardy was at a loss for words. To teach him a lesson, they had loaded the paper roll upside down. He was never late again! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee



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The First Known Videotape Edited Show…November 20, 1958, CBS

The First Known Videotape Edited Show…November 20, 1958, CBS

Seated on the right is director John Frankenheimer watching Ross Murray edit “Old Man”, which was a ‘Playhouse 90’ presentation that aired November 20, 1958.

This was the first time an entire production had ever been videotaped in advance and edited for air. The year before, Frankenheimer had used videotaped inserts in the live productions of two prior ‘Playhouse 90’ shows which were “Bomber’s Moon” and “The Days Of Wine And Roses”, but “Old Man” was a different ballgame.

Most of “Old Man” took place in a storm on the Mississippi River as an escaped convict fled from the law. The production used two studios at Television City (wet and dry) and was so daunting technically that the only way to do it was on tape. You can see some of the production shots below, including the huge Chapman movie crane they brought in.

On November 30, 1956 CBS had made history by tape delaying ‘Douglas Edwards With The News’ and again on October 13, 1957 when they used videotape to play back ‘The Edsel Show’ which aired live from Television City three hours earlier. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee




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A Great True Story From NBC Veteran Frank Gaeta…NBC 1951 – 1988

A Great True Story From NBC Veteran Frank Gaeta…NBC 1951 – 1988

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Gaeta about his 37 years at NBC. In this photo from NBC Brooklyn Studio II, Frank (plaid shirt) is operating the TK41 at the bottom of the picture. This is on the set of ‘Sing Along With Mitch’ in 1962.

He was there for the remarkable early days of color and spent a lot of time at The Colonial Theater and Brooklyn which were NBC’s first two color facilites. In ’75 he moved from cameraman to technical director and was TD for ‘Another World’ till he retired in ’88 and on occasion, also directed.

Here’s a story like none I have ever heard before. One night in the early 60s, he was on one of four color cameras for a live color prime time network show from NBC Brooklyn. They had rehearsed for three long days, and it’s a good thing they did.

About thirty seconds into the show, the intercom line to the control room went dead. None of the studio crew could hear the TD and he couldn’t hear them, but the cameramen could hear each other. So, as the show went on, all of them were talking to each other, feeding each other shots. It sounded something like this…”Frank, you’ve got shot 72 and hold it till Jack can get in place for 73 and then truck left for 74.”

There’s no business like PRO business, and that’s how these guys pulled it off without a hitch. If you have a story like this, we would all love to hear it so please tell us about it! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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From Flip Cards To The Credit Roll…

From Flip Cards To The Credit Roll…

As we end today’s discussion on early graphics techniques, here are some shots that cover a lot of territory…from 1948 into 1993. The big picture is from NBC’s 1948 ‘Television Scene Magazine’ and shows the flip card board. The second photo is from the 50s of a black drum style credit roll with a Marconi Mark I or II. The color photo from James Shea is from a 1993 episode of ‘The Price Is Right’ from CBS Television City. This is one of the last times this was used and shortly after, they went along with everyone else and changed over to CG. They kept it in use long after other shows went CG because the producers liked the more organic look. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee



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Manual Graphics…1952 Election Coverage At ABC

Manual Graphics…1952 Election Coverage At ABC

This is a far cry from where we are now, but this is the way it was done back when television was just taking baby steps. The ABC stagehand in the large photo is one of several men behind the big totals board. Each plastic ring has 0 through 9 on it and with the latest vote tabulations called out to them, these men moved the numbers on the board. On this night, Walter Winchell was the network’s television and radio anchor. These photos are more than likely from ABC Studio TV 1. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee



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1950s Demo Reel…Local Market Weather Package


1950s Demo Reel…Local Market Weather Package

These twenty second forecast pieces were usually not in lieu of a local weather report inside a regular newscast, but were used during the day as sponsored “public interest” spots with a ten second sponsorship slide and VO at the top of each one.

Telecine rooms were always busy back in those early days. It was all manually done with film, slides and live VOs and very “by the book” as the book had all the break and run times, slide and film numbers and live VO scripts. Stations that used this package would have had all these on separate mini reels with leader at the front and back end and woe be unto you if the box and reel numbers got mis matched. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOLgNuVVmBw

A collection of weather report animations for almost every condition.

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Analogue Graphics Display…The 1964 Version

Analogue Graphics Display…The 1964 Version

With several stories on computer graphics and the like lately, I thought taking a look at how thing were done before all that came along would be fun and I’ll share a few with you this morning.

This is a WHDH Boston Celtics player info box complete with changeable photo cards and a small control box. Thanks to Maureen Carney for the photo. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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SMPTE Time Code – Virtually Unchanged After Almost 50 Years

New Richard Wirth Article…The SMPTE Time Code

This is a perfect detailed follow up to the Smith Block and video editing stories I posted here a few weeks back. Here’s the story of how the time code came to be and, having been around for almost half a century, how it has withstood the test of time.

Some of the most interesting parts of this are the rare videos he found while doing the research – like the CMX600 promotional film that gives a detailed demonstration of the first non linear editor in detail by taking you through the editing of a musical piece. Thanks to our friend Richard Wirth for composing this very interesting article. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://provideocoalition.com/pvcexclusive/story/timecode-virtually-unchanged-after-almost-50-years

SMPTE Time Code – Virtually Unchanged After Almost 50 Years

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  So goes the old proverb. SMPTE Time Code is like that.  While the entire production and post world around it has changed radically, time code has remained virtually the same.

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Continuing Election Coverage At CNN…A Look Inside Event Control

Continuing Election Coverage At CNN…A Look Inside Event Control

Thanks to our friend Andy Rose, here is a look inside CNN Atlanta and one part of the network’s technical tasking for the still ongoing CNN election coverage. This photo does not show a traditional control room. It is the “event control” in Atlanta used during special coverage. It coordinates incoming live signals and routes them to the control room in manageable blocks. At last count, there were 96 remote signals expected over the course of the night (counting reporters, guests, and candidates’ events) which would overwhelm a traditional control room. These signals are transmitted through a combination of fiber optics, IP networks, broadband, bonded cellular, and literally every satellite frequency that CNN has available. Enjoy and share! To all the very tired folks at all the networks and local stations, THANKS! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Best Election News Yet…The Ads Are Over, And This Fun Clip


Best Election News Yet…The Ads Are Over, And This Fun Clip

No matter how or who you voted for, one thing we can all agree on is that we are glad the 2.2 million political ads that ran this season have finally come to an end. In election night coverage, here’s a light moment with Tom Brokaw who ran with the ball when his cell phone rang. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://on.msnbc.com/1EgNHm3In the midst of discussing the 2014 midterm election returns with an msnbc panel, NBC News special correspondent Tom Brokaw is interrupted by a phone call.

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Election Night, 1952…The NBC, CBS And ABC Newsrooms In Action

Election Night, 1952…The NBC, CBS And ABC Newsrooms In Action

On this election day, here’s fun look back at the newsrooms of the big three in the 1952 election.

With so many people to accommodate, both on and off camera, it is possible that all three used adjoining or adjacent studios for coverage.

More than likely, the NBC coverage is coming from either Studio 3A or 3B or both. The CBS set is in Studio 41 at Grand Central and 42 is probably in use too with the wall opened up. ABC had a flexi walled studio too and their coverage is either in Studio TV 1 or TV 2, or both. Have you voted? Please do! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://theboweryboys.blogspot.com/2012/11/election-night-live-on-tv-new-york-city.html

The Bowery Boys: New York City History: Election Night, live on TV! New York City newsrooms, 1952

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Los Angeles Television

FYI…Joel Tator’s “Los Angeles Television” Book Coming Soon

Congratulations to our friend Joel Tator on the announcement of his book coming in January. Joel is a veteran television professional who’s spent a lifetime in LA television at NBC, KTLA and more. I’ve already ordered my copy. -Bobby Ellerbee

Los Angeles Television

Los Angeles television history began in the small room of an auto dealership in 1931. Since then, much of the nations television history has been made here: the first television helicopter, the first big story that television broke before newspapers, the first live coverage of an atomic bomb, and…

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November 3, 1956…The ‘Oz’ Tradition Begins On CBS

November 3, 1956…The ‘Oz’ Tradition Begins On CBS

The first time ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ was shown on television was a Saturday night in November of 1956. Many have said that the debut broadcast was not in color, but this add from the Vineland Times Journal, in Vineland NJ settles that argument. It was indeed in color and this music store, which also sold color television sets, invited the public to watch at their store. By the way, RCA color sets sold for $495 and black and whites for $279 in 1956.

The year before, on March 7, 1955, NBC’s color broadcast of ‘Peter Pan’ from Brooklyn’s Studio I was a smash and CBS wanted a big color family affair too and broadcast ‘Oz’ as the last installment of the CBS anthology series ‘Ford Star Jubilee’.

It was a hit, but the annual tradition did not start till 1958 when CBS aired it a second time, but from then on, it was moved to an air date between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m glad to be able to say that I saw both the ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Oz’ debuts, but only in glorious black and white. I think we got a color set in 1964. Do you remember? Thanks to David Crosthwait for the ad. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Jay Leno Is Returning to ‘Tonight’ on Friday

This Should Be Interesting! Leno As “Tonight’ Guest This Friday

Jay Leno Is Returning to ‘Tonight’ on Friday

Jay Leno is returning to Tonight. The former host of the NBC late-night show will be back in its studio on Friday night for the first time since passing the baton to Jimmy Fallon. (Though he made a cameo in Fallon’s parody “House of Cue Cards” earlier this year, the upcoming episode will mark his fi…

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The End…Universal Stage 28 Demolished, September 22, 2014

The End…Universal Stage 28 Demolished, September 22, 2014

The Joni Mitchell lyric, “they tore down paradise to put up a parking lot” comes to mind now. As I understand it, the space where Stage 28 was will now be used as part of the Universal Theme Park expansion. Although this was built in 1925, there are six older stages here…Stages 3 & 4 and 5 & 6 and 16 & 17 were built in 1916.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vV8IAOojoAA
To end on a high note, click the link to see The Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996 video that shows one of the few times the 1938 vintage under-the-floor water tank has been used. Gone but not forgotten! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://insideuniversal.net/2014/08/historic-stage-28-set-to-close/

(Update: Demolition Photos) Historic Soundstage 28 Has Been Demolished

Universal Studios Hollywood News & Information

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Remembering Universal Stage 28…A Must See History Link

Remembering Universal Stage 28…A Must See History Link

On September 19, a three day demolition job started and brought down one of the oldest movie sound stages in the world…by September 22, Stage 28 was gone. This is the best information I have seen on Stage 28 and at the bottom of this linked article is a stunning list of the many productions that were filmed here. I have one more post today on the demolition, but here are just a few of the movies and TV shows shot here.

‘Phantom Of The Opera’ 1925, ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ 1927, ‘Dracula’ 1931, ‘Bride Of Frankenstein’ 1935, ‘Flash Gordon’ Serial 1936, ‘Psycho’ 1960, ‘Charade’ 1963, ‘The Birds’ 1963, ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ 1967, ‘Columbo’ TV Series, ‘The Sting’ 1973, ‘Jurassic Park’ 1993, and MANY MORE! The whole list is just amazing. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.thestudiotour.com/ush/frontlot/stage28.php

theStudioTour.com – Universal Studios Hollywood – Stage 28

Information and History about Stage 28 at Universal Studios Hollywood

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Follow Up…Last Look At Universal Stage 28, The “Phantom Studio”


Follow Up…Last Look At Universal Stage 28, The “Phantom Studio”

Only a month ago, the sound stage where ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ was shot, was torn down. That was Universal Studio’s Stage 28. In this post, I am including two videos that give us a last look at the original 1925 set before it was carefully removed and packed away for display at a later date.

The embedded video is :49 seconds and was taken by a Universal employee on the sly. The second video is at this link and is a longer look with 2 minutes of photos of the set and some interesting history from the presenter who is the niece of the man who ran Universal and built Stage 28…Carl Laemmle.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=to02CjSibsA

In 1924 Universal’s president, Carl Laemmle, commissioned the construction of a set of the Paris Opera House for the movie. Because it would have to support hundreds of extras, the set became the first to be created with steel girders set in concrete. For this reason it was not dismantled until this year. Stage 28 still contained portions of the opera house set and was the world’s oldest surviving structure built specifically for a movie. The studio was used in hundreds of movies and TV series and I’ll give you the incredible list of what famous movies were shot here and many more photos in today’s next post. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDDzG2G3ExM

As an employee, and thanks to a kind security guard, I was able to film this footage of the oldest sound stage in the world. Stage 28 at Universal Studios, H…

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November 4, 1957…Dick Clark Debuts “Great Balls Of Fire”


November 4, 1957…Dick Clark Debuts “Great Balls Of Fire”

Just for fun, here’s a little piece of music and television history rolled into one. The song was recorded in Memphis at Sun Studios on October 8, 1957 and was the follow up to Jerry Lee’s first hit, “Whole Lotta Shakin”. This debut performance is on ‘The Dick Clark Saturday Beechnut Show’ on ABC from The Little Theater in New York. Notice the ultra quick “balls of fire” Lewis creates with magician’s flash paper while playing. -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lidFipyLG8k

Jerry Lee Lewis Great balls of Fire Rock video

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Best Photos Ever Of The Original NBC Color Mobile Units…

Best Photos Ever Of The Original NBC Color Mobile Units…

Thanks to Nicolas Auger, here is a great color photo of the first color mobile units ever. This picture was taken in Greenfield Village, Michigan near The Henry Ford Museum October 25, 1955 and NBC was there to shoot some of the museum’s activities for insert into ‘Today’ and ‘Home’, which is quite reminiscent of the 1954 Color Caravan tour.

The camera outside the school is shooting ‘Howdy Doody’ which was live from the Scottish Settlement School that day and was the third live colorcast from here. They were comparing 1855 to 1955.

The third vehicle is what I believe to be a black and white utility bus that came along with cable and scaffolding for this outdoor shoot of a recreated village from early American history. Images courtesy of The Henry Ford Museum Collection. Enjoy and share!



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A Rare And Detailed Look At NBC’s Brooklyn Studios…Part 2 of 2

A Rare And Detailed Look At NBC’s Brooklyn Studios…Part 2 of 2

Today, we will take a look inside what was once the world’s biggest color television studios…that’s biggest in size and reputation.

Starting with the floor plan and sizes, Studio I was 163′ by 70′ with 24′ from the floor to the light grid. The floor area is 11,200 square feet and had an audience capacity of 420 in fold away bleachers.

Studio II, built from the ground up by NBC, was the smaller of the two, but had much more head room. It had 9,700 square feet of floor space and from floor to lighting grid was 39′. It was 131′ by 75′ and held an audience of 582 in fold away bleachers.

The famous swimming pool built for ‘The Ester Williams Aqua Spectacular’ which aired live November 29, 1956 is still there, under the floor of Studio I. Amazingly, there is a full basement under both studios and back in the day, was jam packed with scenery, props and equipment. I think the swimming pool was on the back wall, at the top of the Studio I floor plan. Studio II was used as the “dry” set with all the dance numbers and Studio I was the “wet” set.

I’ve included an October 1956 Broadcasting Magazine article that talks about the three color studios opening soon, which include Brooklyn II, The Ziegfeld Theater and Burbank’s Studio 4. Remember from yesterday’s post, Brooklyn I debuted September 12, 1954. I have put notes on all the attached photo to let you know what you are seeing, so please click on each individually. Thanks to Dennis Degan for saving these treasures from the now defunct JC Studios site. Enjoy and SHARE! -Bobby Ellerbee










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To Sports Fans, This Set Should Look Familiar…CBS Studio 43 On Saturdays and …

To Sports Fans, This Set Should Look Familiar…CBS Studio 43

On Saturdays and Sundays during football season, this is ground zero for the CBS Television Network’s sports coverage. I make that distinction because next door, in Studio 44 is the CBS Sports Network cable channel’s headquarters set. This set in use year round for all sports, but I seem to see it more in the fall.

I took this back in June at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York and just to be clear, this is the NY Studio 43 as there is a Studio 43 at Television City too. Edited and corrected now. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Meet The Cameramen Of ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ From left to right are Kevin Cavall…

Meet The Cameramen Of ‘CBS Sunday Morning’

From left to right are Kevin Cavallini, Allen Brown and John Curtin shown here with the show’s great host, Charles Osgood. Every Sunday morning for 35 years, since day one in 1979, Allen Brown has been there and has been with CBS for 40 years.

Later today, I will be talking with not only Allen, but NBC veteran Frank Gaeta as well. I can’t wait to hear some of the stories about their years behind the camera and the shows they’ve done.

Also included here are some shots from yesterday’s show with a few more of the people that work in Studio 45 on Sunday mornings.
Thanks to our friend Craig Wilson for the always stellar photos. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee




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Homage to the Vidifont

In Case You Missed It…Another Look At The Vidifont System

On Saturday, I posted the first article on television’s first character generator, but here is a much more illustrated article on Vidifont that I think you’ll like. Thanks to James Shea for sharing this in the Comment section a day or so ago. By the way…if you are not paying attention to the Comments section of these posts, your are MISSING A LOT! That’s where most of the great detail comes in and in most cases, that rich flow of new information is typically from those that were there, and only they can add. I, and many others are forever grateful to the thousands of veteran broadcasters here that, in part, come here to pass along their experiences…it’s of benefit to us all. Enjoy, share and read the comments! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://jcbd.com/vidifont/

Homage to the Vidifont

He also details the economic considerations involved, where CBS basically determined they were spending so much money creating 35mm slides for namesupers (the hardware costs for the specialized camera itself were considerable) that they could easily recoup that and more by developing the Vidifont. I…

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Seems Like Only Yesterday, And It WAS! SNL Rehearsal Shot

Seems Like Only Yesterday, And It WAS! SNL Rehearsal Shot

Here’s Chris Rock with Jay Pharoah between scenes yesterday in NBC Studio 8H. Last nights show was great, Rock and Prince rocked the house! That’s Louis Delli Paoli and Bob Mancari behind them on the Chapman Electra arm with John Pinto in the bucket and Phil Pernice at the wheel. The only crane team left in live television and the pride of Italy. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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1954; The Year In Color At NBC

On A Related Note…1954; The Year In Color At NBC

Just a month before NBC Brooklyn Studio I went live in September of 1954, the NBC Color Caravan wrapped up a three month sojourn through the midwest and mid Atlantic states, but that was just a small part of a year brimming with color at NBC and RCA. Here are the highlights of that industrious year.

January 1, 1954: ‘The Tournament of Roses Parade’, from Pasadena was telecast in color by twenty-one stations of NBC’s first coast-to-coast color network. This colorcast also marked the first use of NBC’s new mobile color TV unit and the first West-to-East transcontinental transmission of color television.

February 16, 1954: NBC transmitted the first newscast in color… ‘The Camel News Caravan’, including the first integration of 16-mm color film into a live program.

March 4, 1954: The first shipment of RCA TK40s, and associated studio equipment was made from RCA’s plant in Camden, N.J. This was after two years of testing of the TK40 prototypes at NBC’s Colonial Theater.

March 19, 1954: The first colorcast of a boxing match from Madison Square Garden, was presented by NBC and was their first color sports event.

March 25, 1954: Production of RCA’s first commercial color TV sets, the CT 100s, equipped with a 15-inch picture tube began at Bloomington, Indiana.

June 25, 1954: NBC made the first network transmission of 35-mm color film, on ‘The Mrs. USA’ program.

July 8 – Aug. 19: NBC aired the first network color series, ‘The Marriage’, a situation comedy with Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn.

July 15, 1954: RCA announced development of a new and improved 21-inch color kinescope with a picture area of 255 square inches.

September 12, 1954: NBC presented the first of its 90 minute color spectacular, ‘Satins and Spurs’. The program also inaugurated NBC’s new Brooklyn Studio I.

September 15, 1954: RCA demonstrated its new 21-inch color picture tube and a simplified color TV receiver.

Oct. 14 – Dec. 30: ‘The Ford Theatre’ was the first network sponsored TV color film series to be presented on a regular basis.

November 28,1954: First two-hour color production of a Shakespeare play, “Macbeth” on ‘Hallmark Hall of Fame’.

December 1, 1954: RCA began commercial production of color TV sets with a new 21-inch picture tube.

Presented with thanks to Ed Reitan and Novia.net for the detials and all his many contributions to the perservation of television history and his archival efforts, which are many. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee




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A Rare And Detailed Look At NBC’s Brooklyn Studios…Part 1 of 2

A Rare And Detailed Look At NBC’s Brooklyn Studios…Part 1 of 2

For me, these new photos and information have cleared up a lot of confusion about these famous and historic film and television studios. I hope they will do the same for you.

Here are two annotated aerial views of the property and the recently discovered September 29, 1951 article from the Brooklyn Eagle that announces the sale of the Warner Brothers – Vitagraph property to NBC.

I had always thought that NBC bought the entire Warner Brothers holdings in Brooklyn…the studios and property that WB had bought from Vitagraph Studios. This is not the case. As it turns out, the big white building was retained by WB, but they sold the property on the other side of 14th Street to NBC. This will not surprise you but Wikipedia and other wiki sites have a lot of wrong information on this.

The white Vitagraph building was built in 1906. Vitagraph was bought by Warner Brothers April 22, 1925. What we now know as NBC Brooklyn Studio 1 was built by WB in 1936 and was first used by NBC September 12, 1954. Studio II, the smaller studio was built new from the ground up by NBC and went into service in the fall of 1956.

All of this sheds new light on a bigger picture…a big color picture! As I compare notes on dates and locations, it is dawning on me that with the broadcast of ‘Satin And Spurs’ on September 12, 1954, NBC Brooklyn Studio I, became NBC’s second ever color facility. That is a fact I have never seen documented anywhere before, even in NBC’s press releases of the time.

It’s interesting to note that this property was bought about the same time RCA/NBC took over The Colonial Theater. That was NBC’s first real color facility and after transforming it from a movie theater to a color television studio, the first live broadcast was done from The Colonial on November 8, 1952 with a one time only broadcast of ‘Your Show Of Shows’ with the color burst removed, but viewed in color via closed at RCA Labs in Princeton.

I suspect the three year gap between when NBC bought the property and it’s first use was due in large part to a wait and see attitude regarding the NTSC color system court battles with CBS and the FCC. When CBS testified before Congress in March 1953 that it had no further plans for its own color system, the path was open for the NTSC to submit its petition for FCC approval in July 1953, which was granted in December. I think that is when NBC finally began the serious work of transforming Studio I from a film sound stage into the world’s largest color television studio.

Now that we’ve seen the outside and made some new discoveries, we’ll move to the inside of these two studios tomorrow with some great pictures. Thanks to Glenn Mack for the aerial views, Dave Miller for the Brooklyn Eagle article and to many NBC veterans that helped with this including Joel Spector, Dennis Degan, Jan Kassoff, Frank Gaeta, Russell Ross and more. Enjoy and SHARE! -Bobby Ellerbee




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Ultra Rare! Network Telop Cards…Circa 1955

Ultra Rare! Network Telop Cards…Cica 1955

From the Gady Reinhold Collection, here are nine opaque cards used in the Gray Telop machines of the day. How many times in the 50s did you see this iconic CBS cloud logo between shows? Until I heard of the telop machines, I always thought is was a slide. It later was, but for many years it was an opaque card…this card. Quite a piece of history.

‘The Secret Storm’, ‘Guiding Light’ and ‘Love Of Life’ cards were used as rejoinders, and all the others including the NBC card are all promo cards used in stop set billboards.

These were about the height of a postcard, but not as wide and are now quite rare. Thanks to our friend Gady for saving these for future generations to see. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee









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Television’s First Optical Projection System…The Gray Research Telop

Television’s First Optical Projection System…The Gray Research Telop

In yesterday’s conversation on the Vidifont system, which was television’s first character generator, I was reminded by Dan Cooper, that when it came to the lower third of the screen, there was in fact an apparatus that could scroll text there. As you will see, it was an available accessory for use on the Gray Telop machines and the horizontal ticker crawl was done with 8MM film. Make sure you click on each photo for details.

This is a story that I posted here in December of 2012 and features images and a price list from Gray from 1953. The cost of the top of the line Telop I was $3500…in today’s money, that’s over $31,100. CBS had a half dozen of these in their Grand Central headquarters. I’m pretty sure NBC and ABC used these too. There were two smaller, less expensive models for local stations as well and these were marketed mostly as production aids for creating spots, but at the network level, were the main mechanisms for promos and billboarding upcoming shows and was all done live during the breaks. The alternative would have been the RCA 35MM slide drums in a telecine chain, but I don’t know if they had those in the early 50s. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


Thanks to Val Ginter in NYC, we have a very rare Grey Telop brochure from 1953. The details are on the photos so please view them individually.

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Frank Gaeta “In The Bucket” At NBC Brooklyn Studios


NBC Brooklyn Studios History Coming, But For Now…Check This Out!

This opens with a great shot of Sammy standing in front of an RCA TK41 operated by veteran cameraman Frank Gaeta. This was the fifteenth and last episode of ‘The Sammy Davis Jr. Show’ from NBC’s Brooklyn Studios on April 22, 1966. Notice at the end, there is a VO announcing the premier of ‘Sing Along With Mitch Miller’ at the same time next week.

I’ve recently come across some new and interesting photos of NBC Brooklyn and I’ll be sharing them with you as soon as I get just a bit more first hand confirmation on some historical facts from some of the men that worked there, so stay tuned. I’m not sure which studio this came from, but given that Studio 1 was much larger, I’m thinking this was done in Studio 2. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXjKNl0C-AU

from April 22, 1966. thanks to fromthesidelines and wmbrown6 for the great comments and info on this clip.

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Before Character Generation, There Was This…Then Came Vidifont

Before Character Generation, There Was This…Then Came Vidifont

The first electronic graphics machine used in US television production was the CBS Vidifont system. As told by the man that developed it, Stanley Baron, here is the story of how it came to be.
http://www.ieeeghn.org/wiki/index.php/First-Hand:Inventing_the_Vidifont:_the_first_electronics_graphics_machine_used_in_television_production

Before 1968, television graphics were either movable letters on a slot board like this, text on a slide, or white letters on a black flip card, or rolling credit drum that were superimposed over live shots. I thought Chyron was the first with this, but as it turns out, it was CBS Labs that lead the way. It’s an interesting story so enjoy and share. -Bobby Ellerbee

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