Posts in Category: Broadcast History

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

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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

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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

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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

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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”

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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”

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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…

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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

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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 …

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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…

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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November 1, 1960…Rare! The Photo And Video, Martin And Sinatra

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November 1, 1960…Rare! The Photo And Video, Martin And Sinatra

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Hb3R3S1_7k
Before the 1965-1974 ‘Dean Martin Show’ on NBC, there was the 1957-1961 ‘Dean Martin Show’ on NBC. Both were done in Studio 4 at NBC Burbank, but that’s where the similarity ends…sort of.

The ’57-’61 shows were specials and only aired two or three times a year and were black and white shows. This photo was taken at dress rehearsal on this day 54 years ago and the video clip is a ‘This Is Your Life’ style comedy bit Dean did with Frank on that show. The camera is an RCA TK11.

After ten incredible years as the hottest act in show business, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin did their last show together at the Copacabana in NYC on July 24, 1956. During that time, they had their own radio show on NBC, hosted NBC’s ‘Colgate Comedy Hour’ on television and starred in 16 feature length films.

After the break, Lewis began to produce, star in and direct his own movies, while Martin returned to singing with three huge hits for Capitol including “Memories Are Made Of This”, “When You’re Smiling” and “Oh, Marie”.

1958 gave birth to The Rat Pack in Las Vegas and Dean’s carrier was on fire again. In the next post today, we’ll see twenty unpublished photo of the Rat Pack from Life Magazine. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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October 31, 1950…Trick Or Treat? My Parents Would Say, BOTH!

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October 31, 1950…Trick Or Treat? My Parents Would Say, BOTH!

Yep, today’s my birthday and at 3:20 this afternoon, I’ll be 64 years old. I’m not sure, but that probably makes me the oldest student at The University Of Georgia.

Most don’t know, but in August, I started back to school at my old alma mater to take some classes I thought would be interesting and helpful. The class I am taking now is on Media Technology and friends, I am here to tell you…it’s a whole new ballgame! Did you know that modulation is now “bit depth” and frequency is “sample rate”?

As an analogue guy in a digital world, I can hum the tune but the lyrics seem to have changed a good bit. It’s interesting though and so are my fellow students…especially their way of being. Fortunately, I’m not the only one taking notes on paper, but my Motorola Razor phone sure is a rarity.

The long, slow decline of television news has bothered me for years, and although I know how the trainwreck started at CBS in the 80s when accountants suggested making the news a profit center (instead of being supported by the entertainment side), some new aspects of this phenomenon are revealing themselves as we study “convergence” which is the process of merging print, broadcast and online news systems.

You would think that more access to more news would be better all around, but in my opinion…it has weakened reporting, especially in the mainstream media. Now, there are more blogs and more opinion based bloggers but fewer journalists reporting “news”. You would also think that with plenty of choices of political slants (like MSNBC vs Fox), people who wanted to understand both sides of a story would be better informed by having the ability to go to the other outlets, but…this seems to cause even more polarization. Why? Because human nature, being what it is, people tend to stay in their comfort zones and thus, find even more support for their beliefs on the web at sites like The Drudge Report or Huffington Post.

As for the softness of network evening news shows with all the YouTube videos and feel good stories…I know you guys are doing it to snare a younger demo, but you can stop now. They are not coming to dinner with you, so how about going back to real news with real reporters? Thank you for being a part of Eyes Of A Generation and Happy Halloween! -Bobby Ellerbee


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Halloween Special #5…One Minute Of Movie Magic That Lasts A Lifetime

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Halloween Special #5…One Minute Of Movie Magic That Lasts A Lifetime

This is perhaps one of most amazing transformation shots ever done, especially when you consider the date was 1943! Lon Chaney Jr’s face is in constant motion, yet the time lapse makeup application process by Jack Pierce is seamless as he becomes The Wolfman. This starts at 1:04 and follows the not as impressive, but pretty spooky 1941 transformation scene. The ‘American Werewolf In London’ transformation scene is great too, but that’s in today’s next video. Enjoy, share and Happy Halloween! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/1q4Wn63uof8?t=1m4sFrom The Wolfman (1941) and Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman (1943).
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In Case You Missed This…The Oldest Known ‘Tonight’ Color Clip

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In Case You Missed This…The Oldest Known ‘Tonight’ Color Clip

During yesterday’s camera comparisons, Gary Walters reposted this ultra rare clip which was restored by David Crosthwait and his expert crew at DC Video in LA. Although it’s a dub of a 2″ low band quad tape, it’s still very good and shows off the RCA TK41’s abilities quite well. This was at NBC Studio 6B in New York. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eg-R9tnEXso&feature=youtu.be

This segment is courtesy of Carson-Entertainment-Group and Stan Zabka. This 2″ low-band color quad tape (dub) was presented to Stan by NBC in 1964. Stan pers…
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October 31, 1965…’The Ed Sullivan Show’ Goes Color

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October 31, 1965…’The Ed Sullivan Show’ Goes Color

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRH5lbbACSs nov 7
Although I can’t locate a clip of the debut color show from CBS Studio 50, I have the next best thing…a clip from a week later on November 7, 1965. Since The Righteous Brothers clip is so short, here’s a Four Seasons clip from January 2, 1966.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMgPVKEKrSg

Starting in the late 50’s, Sullivan had done color shows from time to time, but they were all done from CBS Television City in Hollywood. As a matter of fact, Season 18 started in color from Television City on September 12, 1965 and the show stayed there till the seventh episode was broadcast October 24th with Richard Pryor, Marvin Gaye, Herman’s Hermits, Duke Ellington and Helen Hayes.

The move back home was Episode 8, and starred Liza Minnelli, Alan Sherman, Barry McGuire, The Grass Roots and London Lee, live from the Ed Sullivan Theater which was now equipped with six Norelco color cameras. In the photo below is Sullivan with his long time “personal cameraman” George Moses on Camera 1. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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October 31, 1953…NBC’s First Network Colorcast: “Carmen”

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October 31, 1953…NBC’s First Network Colorcast: “Carmen”

http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1953/11/01/page/236/article/carmen-seen-in-compatible-color-tv-test
At the link above is an extremely rare account of this historic colorcast from The Chicago Tribune. In essence, the opera “Carmen” was broadcast nationally in black and white with the color burst removed. BUT, the color broadcast was fed via closed circuit to viewing parties in New York, possibly Washington and to Chicago.

The colorcast was live from NBC’s first and only color facility, The Colonial Theater in New York. At the time, the only color equipment was here. No one had color transmitters and there were very few color monitors, even in the NBC O&O stations control rooms where the closed circuit feed came in. As the article states, WNBQ’s single 12″ color monitor, provided by RCA, was at the off site viewing party next to a 24″ black and white set that was carrying the nationally telecast monochrome broadcast.

The cameras used were the four RCA TK40 prototypes. The one hour presentation of the opera “Carmen” also included an audio trick or two. In passages where the vocal performance was critical, but extreme movement in dance numbers was too, look-alike actors were subtly inserted on stage to dance and lip synch while the principal operatic stars sang off stage. The principals would quietly return to stage and sing in more static shots. This is the only surviving photo. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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Tribute 2 To The RCA TK41…The True Blacks And Mood

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Tribute 2 To The RCA TK41…The True Blacks And Mood

I think this is my all time favorite TK41 color shot. My like for this may be influenced by the art of the shot and the set, and even though this is not very colorful, it shows how great the black registration was on this camera. I would have loved to have been at NBC Burbank when this was done. Were any of you there? Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-RAnkH8Jxc

Andy Williams – O Holy Night
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Tribute 1 To The RCA TK41…The Color And Warmth

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Tribute 1 To The RCA TK41…The Color And Warmth

To me, the best examples of the great pictures the TK41 made are captured on The Andy Williams Christmas Specials on NBC. This is my second favorite clip of their great color. Wait till you see my favorite which is up next! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5mf0lLC6P4

A tribute to Andy Williams. Buy the complete Andy Williams collection on Amazon: http://amzn.to/S2R5MP From The Best of the Andy Williams Christmas Shows – C…
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Halloween Special #3…Universal’s Master Of Makeup, Jack Pierce

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Halloween Special #3…Universal’s Master Of Makeup, Jack Pierce

We said a brief hello to Jack Pierce yesterday, but today, we’ll get a full half hour of his mastery. Pierce created the most iconic and memorable monster looks ever to hit the screen, and they live on till this day. Did you know that the look of The Joker in the Batman comics was based on Jack’s “Laughing Man” make up? You’ll see that and much more here so feel free to skip around in the video. Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8HMMbMgDVg

Jack Pierce fué un gran experto en el make-up, su nombre estará ligado para siempre al cine fantástico por ser el creador de todos los monstruos de la Univer…
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The GE PE 20…A Witness To History In Dallas

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The GE PE 20…A Witness To History In Dallas

The Broadcast Engineering ad here is from March of 1962 and is part of the introduction of GE’s new PE 20 monochrome camera. Nationally, not many broadcasters used GE equipment, but there was an unusually large market for GE product in the southwest, and Texas in particular.

The first time most of us saw pictures from a PE 20 were in November of 1963 when President Kennedy was killed in Dallas. The then CBS affiliate there, KRLD had these and you can see a couple of them here in these photos of Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. Thanks to Jeremy Butler at The University Of Alabama for sharing the ad with us…this gives us more information on the rather sketchy GE equipment timeline. Anyone ever work with these? Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee





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October 30, 1931…NBC Begins Work On Empire State Tower

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October 30, 1931…NBC Begins Work On Empire State Tower

On this day in 1931, NBC began putting a TV transmitter on top of the Empire State Building. The first experimental TV broadcast from the building was on December 22, 1931.

I don’t think the broadcast tower atop the building’s dirigible mooring mast was added till after 1936. At this point, antenna elements were simply attached to the existing mast.

RCA’s first experimental television transmissions began in 1928 by station W2XBS in Van Cortland Park and then moved to the New Amsterdam Theater Building, transmitting 60 line pictures in the new 2-3 mHz band allocated to television. A 13 inch Felix the Cat figure made of paper mache was placed on a record player turntable and was broadcast using a mechanical scanning disk to a scanning disk receiver. The image received was only 2 inches tall, and the broadcasts lasted about 2 hours per day. By 1931 the station became part of NBC and began to transmit from 42nd St.

The Empire State Building was completed in May of 1931, and RCA leased the 85th floor for a studio and transmitter location for experimental television broadcasts. RCA, through its broadcasting division NBC, applied to the Federal Radio Commission on July 1, 1931 for construction permits for the sight and sound channels of a television station, which were issued on July 24, 1931. The call sign W2XF was issued in December 1931 for the “sight” channel of that station on an assigned frequency of 44Mc. The RCA transmitter had an input power to the final stage of about 5Kw, giving an estimated power output to the antenna of about 2Kw.

The sound channel of the TV station was separately licensed as W2XK for a 2.5Kw transmitter to operate on 61Mc. Both transmitters were located on the 85th floor and used separate vertical dipole antennas.

Below are some shots of the Empire State mooring mast built as a dirigible docking station, but aside from King Kong and Fay Wray, no one ever went up there. The winds proved to be too strong and there were several near accidents in mooring tests, but a bag of mail was once delivered via the mast. The last photo is I think from the late ’50s and shows the assigned areas of the tower. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee




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Halloween Special #2…Boris Karloff, ‘This Is Your Life’

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Halloween Special #2…Boris Karloff, ‘This Is Your Life’

This should start at 13:08, the point at which Universal’s head of makeup, Jack Pierce enters. You will be quite surprised to learn of how they worked together creating the makeup and how long their work days were. Tomorrow, there will be much more on Mr. Pierce and the many other ghoulish looks he created for the screen including The Wolfman, Dracula and more! The whole episode is quite an interesting look at Karloff’s great career. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/eEw-dlHK4vg?t=13m8sFeaturing -: J. Warren Bacon Frank Brink Rusel Crouse Barbara Edwards James Edwards Axel Gruenberg Boris Karloff Evie Karloff Sara Karloff Jim Laker Howard L…
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