Posts in Category: Broadcast History

Picked Out Your Halloween Costume Yet? Here’s An Idea…

Picked Out Your Halloween Costume Yet? Here’s An Idea…

Yep…that’s John Wayne as Bugs Bunny doing a cameo drop in for ‘Laugh In’. Since I was born on Halloween, I usually wear my “birthday suit” for at least part of the day. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Behind The Scenes With Fox Sports…Putting The NFL On The Air


Behind The Scenes With Fox Sports…Putting The NFL On The Air

This is great stuff, but one of my favorite shots is about a minute in when we see the two headed monster…the dual platform Chapman sidelines rig. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_V8IlitveE

The NFL’s most exciting game isn’t played on the field. It happens behind the scenes, as hundreds of cast and crew come together to turn a football game into…

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Follow Up…NBC Studio 3H, A Better Perspective

Follow Up…NBC Studio 3H, A Better Perspective

Early in the week, we saw a lot of video of this historic television studio in action in the the 1930s. With this photo, and today’s earlier posting of the original 1933 floor plans of the third floor, I hope to give you a clearer understanding of where everything was in television’s first studio.

In this 1937 photo, we are looking at the north wall of the studio. The top window is the control room on the 4th floor. The control rooms on this floor were all accessed by an employees only corridor behind them and against the outside wall of the building. Thirty feet feet behind this control room window is West 50th Street.

Behind the wall on the left, the west wall, there is a staircase and corridor from the 3H control room to the 3H studio floor and the door to that corridor is to our immediate left (not shown). 6th Avenue is on the other side of this wall.

On the right is the wall that separates 3H from 3F, and inside that wall is another set of stairs and a corridor from the 3F control room to the 3F studio floor. This is the wall that would be taken down in 1955 to merge these two studios (H and F), into NBC’s first inhouse color studio, 3K which debuted with a broadcast of ‘Howdy Doody’.

Directly behind us is the small third floor client viewing booth and over our heads is the large fourth floor visitor gallery window. Today, you enter the studio from here…the south wall, which opens into the main hallway. Back then, NBC tours bought in thousands of people each day and the tour groups used these main hallways…that’s why the backstage corridors were created, so techs and actors could move quickly from one place to another. There were also staff elevators but sometime before 1965, those elevators were taken out and became cable shafts. I find this history fascinating and hope you do too! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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A Very Rare Photo…Future Home Of CBS Blackrock & MORE

A Very Rare Photo…Future Home Of CBS Blackrock & MORE

Thanks to Rick Scheckman, here’s a photo from around 1956 that yielded more than we thought. This was probably taken out of a window of the RCA building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and here’s what we see.

Starting at the very bottom and working our way up, we see the rooftop and air conditioning system at Radio City Music Hall. Just above that is West 52nd Street and on the left is 6th Avenue. The parking lot we see is between 51st and 52nd and is now where the headquarters building for CBS sits.

In the aqua oval are two New York landmarks…one the left is a small building that was torn down and replaced by a larger one that is now home to The Paley Center For Media. Just to the right of it, with the awning, is the famous restaurant and bar, “21”. Is that Jackie Gleason headed there in that cab?

At the top of the picture in the yellow circle, we see the home of ‘The Perry Como Show’…The Ziegfeld Theater at the corner of 6th Avenue and West 54th Street. This is one of only a few photos of The Ziegfeld, and the only one like this anywhere. A lot of famous people have walked around this area, and still do! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Vertigo Alert…A View From The Top

Vertigo Alert…A View From The Top

I don’t care how much money you offer…I wouldn’t go here! The crews that work on this antenna atop The Empire State Building have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Several people have asked to see this again, so here you go. By the way, this is the site of the first television antenna. I think NBC put it up in 1938. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Follow Up…NBC 3rd Floor, Original 1933 Floor Plan

Follow Up…NBC 3rd Floor, Original 1933 Floor Plan

I thought some of the detail I laid out in today’s first post could use some graphics support, so here is the 1933 floorplan with the studios marked.

As you look at this, here are a few thing to keep in mind…MSNBC’s main daytime studio is now in the 3A area and has expanded into the Music Library area to the left of the main studio. The ‘NBC Nightly News’ with Brian Williams is now in 3B.

In 1935, 3H became television’s first fully electronic studio and was the home of many television firsts. In 1955, it was merged with 3F to become Studio 3K which was NBC’s first inhouse color studio. Today, 3K is used by MSNBC’s evening shows, like Rachel Maddow. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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A Rare Sight And Some Detailed New Studio History…NBC, 30 Rock

A Rare Sight And Some Detailed New Studio History…NBC, 30 Rock

This is a rare aerial view of The RCA Building and circled, the 11 story NBC Studio wing on West 49th Street at 6th Avenue. Notice the bottom of the circle touches a building across the street…that is The Center Theater, or was until it was torn down in 1954. It was replaced by a 19 story office building which was home to US Rubber. That’s why you can’t see this view anymore.

In the bottom left corner, just behind 30 Rock is West 50th Street and Radio City Music Hall is located there on the corner of 6th Avenue. Radio City seats 6,000 and the Center, it’s smaller sister seated 3,000. NBC used The Center as a television studio from 1950 till 1954.

When RCA/NBC moved here from 711 5th Avenue in November of 1933, less than half the studios were functioning. Of the thirty-five studios in the Radio City plans, sixteen were functioning by the opening night. The remaining nineteen came on line at later dates. The studios range in size from intimate speakers’ chambers of small dimensions to a huge auditorium measuring 78 by 132 feet and three stories in height. We now know this as Studio 8H, but then it was called “The Auditorium Studio”.

The second largest studio (8G) was to be used for dramatic programs. It is two stories in height and measures 50 by 89 feet. The stage utilized a “glass-curtain” similar to the one introduced in the NBC Times Square studios atop the New Amsterdam Theatre Building. When the curtain is lowered, studio visitors hear the program over amplifiers while viewing the actors through the huge glass window.

Eight additional studios on the third floor are two stories in height. Two have floor measurements of 50 by 80 feet (3A and 3B), two 25 by 40 feet (3C and D), and four 30 by 50 feet (3 E, F, G and H). Side galleries were provided for guests to view the programs through glass windows. Special galleries of smaller sizes were provided for clients who wish to view broadcasts, auditions or rehearsals.

In 1933, what was then the world’s largest air conditioning plant was built on the 10th floor. Each studio was sound proofed and their floors “floated” on felt cushions. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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The Start Of The ABC Television Network…A Short Primer

The Start Of The ABC Television Network…A Short Primer

Since a lot of us are a bit rusty on ABC’s television roots, here’s a thumbnail sketch. By the way, the photo is of Bob King…the first cameraman hired at ABC Hollywood.

On April 19, 1948, the ABC Television Network began its broadcasts on its first primary affiliate, WFIL-TV in Philadelphia. In August 1948, the network’s flagship owned-and-operated station, WJZ-TV in New York City, began its broadcasts. That first NYC broadcast ran for two hours in the evening of August 10, 1948. ABC’s other owned-and-operated stations launched over the course of the next 13 months.

WENR-TV in Chicago launched on September 17, 1948, while WXYZ-TV in Detroit went on the air October 9, 1948. KGO-TV in San Francisco went on the air May 5, 1949.

On May 7, 1949, Billboard revealed that ABC would spend $2.5 million to convert the old Vitagraph/Warner East Annex in Hollywood into The Prospect Studios, and construct a transmitter on Mount Wilson in anticipation of the launch of KECA-TV, which went on the air on September 16, 1949. The rest as they say, is history. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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The Birth Of The Blues For Studio Crews…



The Birth Of The Blues For Studio Crews…

This is the start of the remote/robotic studio camera. We can all “thank” Evershed Power Optics in the UK for this “brilliant” idea. As the story goes, BBC management let it be known that they were trying to cut staffing costs and low and behold, EPO stepped up to the plate. These photos are from 1963 and show on the left, the power head and zoom only. On the right is the full magilla which includes a remotely operated pedestal as well. The lens was made by Angenieux and I think this system could pan, tilt and zoom, but with the electronic pedestal, could crab and truck. I don’t know how many of these were sold in the US, but I don’t think there were many as these are the only two photos I have ever seen of these early units. Thanks to our friend Dicky Howett in the UK for the WDAF photo.

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Stages & Offices | Kaufman Astoria Studios

The Kaufman Astoria Studio Stages…You Won’t Believe How Big They Are!

Until I took a good look at this, I didn’t realize how huge Kaufman Astoria was. Until you look, you won’t either! Be sure and click on each of the stage listings for the full effect. The Porsche in the middle of Stage G looks like a Hot Wheels toy in that 26,000 square foot room. Thanks to Dennis Degan for sharing this. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.kaufmanastoria.com/stages/

Stages & Offices | Kaufman Astoria Studios

Stages & Offices At the core of Kaufman Astoria are seven column-free stages including a mammoth 26,000 square foot stage – the largest east of Hollywood. Our newest addition is Stage K with over 18, 000 square feet. In addition, there are two stages over 12,000 square feet each, and smaller stages…

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ULTRA RARE! Last Houston Fearless 30B Crane In The US Located

ULTRA RARE! Last Houston Fearless 30B Crane In The US Located

For years, I had wondered if any of these fantastic stage cranes were left. The only one I knew of was in The UK, but just last week, someone sent me this photo of a 30B in Milwaukee.

That I know of, this is the only one left in the US and it’s on display at Robert Paquett’s Microphone Museum…along with a mind blowing collection of very rare antique equipment from radio and television. This crane once belonged to WTMJ in Milwaukee, but before that, it had belonged to a Hollywood film studio.

It goes without saying that I would love to have this, but getting in the house could be a bit tricky. To see more of Bob’s fantastic collection, click this link. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
http://www.sssmilwaukee.com/Microphone%20Museum.html

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October 23, 1956…Videotape Makes Its Network Debut On NBC


October 23, 1956…Videotape Makes Its Network Debut On NBC

58 years ago today, a two and a half minute video taped song from ‘Your Hit Parade’ star Dorothy Collins was inserted into ‘The Jonathan Winters Show’. NBC engineers in New York wanted to see if the viewing public could tell the difference from the live portion of the show. When no one noticed the transition, the age of video tape was born.

Details are a bit murky here, but I think this was all black and white and remember, this is only six months after Ampex introduced videotape at the 1956 NAB in April. Part of the confusion comes from the fact that Winters himself tells us that his 15 minute show was the first regular color series on television, but I think that may have happened in 1957. The first color videotaped specials were from ’57 as well and I think it took a year for RCA who had a color recording technology to work out the share with Ampex who had the quad head technology.

As for what the west coast saw, well…that would have been a kinescope of this show as the first ever tape delayed broadcast was November 30, 1956 at CBS with a broadcast of ‘Douglas Edwards With The News’. Unfortunately, there is no kinescope or tape of this historic event and all that’s available from Jonathan’s 1956 show is this :30 second intro. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2nkN9HklrY

His first of two variety series. This one sponsored by TUMS. In the late 60s he tried again on CBS.

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Sightseeing #3…The Dean Martin Show? Close, But No Cigar!

Sightseeing #3…The Dean Martin Show? Close, But No Cigar!

Thanks to Chuck Pharis, here is a photo of the recreated Dean Martin set, which I think was used on one of those half hour pitches for Martin CD collections.

Although the set is fake, the RCA TK41 is very real and rare too! It belongs to our friend Jim Elyea at History For Hire in Los Angeles and is one of three TK41s he owns. What makes them rare is that these TK41s came from CBS Television City. As we all know, CBS only owned six or eight TK40 and 41s and this is one of them.

http://www.eyesofageneration.com/Gallery_History_For_Hire.php
If you have never seen my article on History For Hire, click the link and be ready to be amazed! Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Sightseeing #2…’Today’ Show, Set Tours And Ikegami HK322s


Sightseeing #2…’Today’ Show, Set Tours And Ikegami HK322s

It’s not often that we get to see the Ikegami cameras at NBC, or a complete new set change on a major show, but in this video we get both. We start with the Friday, September 7, 1990 sign off from Studio 8H and the old set. During the SNL summer break, ‘Today’ moved there so that Studio 3B could be updated and the new set built. The second part is the intro of the new set in 3B with a few nice shots of the Ikis there.

I don’t think NBC stayed with the Ikegamis very long…maybe four years? Anyone know? I think they may have left the RCA TK47s around 1989 and by ’93 or ’94 had switched to Sony. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/5wSnGb0V9X4During the northern hemisphere summer of 1990 the bright, chic living room style NBC Today set, in use since 1985, was dismantled and partly re-assembled ups…

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Sightseeing #1…’Another World’, NBC Brooklyn 1990

Sightseeing #1…’Another World’, NBC Brooklyn 1990

Thanks to Anthony Torre, here’s a something we don’t often see…NBC’s Ikegami cameras. This was at the Brooklyn Studios and I think that’s an HK 322, but I’m not positive. With this in mind, up next is a 1990 trip to ‘Today’ and a look at their Ikegamis. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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October 22, 1939…The First Ever Pro Football Telecast

October 22, 1939…The First Ever Pro Football Telecast

75 years ago today, the relationship between professional football and television began when The National Broadcasting Company earned a spot in history by televising a pro football game. Only 22 days before, NBC had televised the first ever college game on September 30th.

A crowd of 13,050 were on hand at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field on that now-historic day when the Philadelphia Eagles fell to Brooklyn’s Dodgers 23-14. Yes, there was a Brooklyn Dodgers football team, from 1930 to 1943.

The game included play by three future Hall of Famers…quarterback Ace Parker and tackle Bruiser Kinard for the Dodgers and end Bill Hewitt for the Eagles.

Five hundred-or-so fortunate New Yorkers who owned television sets witnessed the game in the comfort of their own homes, over NBC’s experimental station W2XBS. Many others saw the telecast on monitors while visiting the RCA Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York where it was scheduled as a special event.

According to Allen “Skip” Walz, the NBC play-by-play announcer, only eight people were needed for the telecast. Walz had none of the visual aids…monitors, screens or spotters used today, and there were just two iconoscope cameras. One was located in the box seats on the 40-yard line and the other was in the stadium’s mezzanine section. (The photo of Waltz below was taken a few years later with an RCA Orthicon camera behind him).

“I’d sit with my chin on the rail in the mezzanine, and the camera was over my shoulder,” remembered Walz. “I did my own spotting, and when the play moved up and down the field, on punts or kickoffs, I’d point to tell the cameraman what I’d be talking about.”

The television log records of that day say that the game began at 2:30 p.m. and ran for exactly two hours, thirty-three minutes. By comparison today’s games run almost three full hours. Of course there were no commercial interruptions during the 1939 game. There were, however, interruptions of another sort.

“It was a cloudy day, when the sun crept behind the stadium there wasn’t always enough light for the cameras,” according to Walz. “The picture would get darker and darker, and eventually it would go completely blank, and I would begin to call the game in the style I used for radio broadcasts.”

Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee



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Television In The Army…1953 ‘The Big Picture’ Special


Television In The Army…1953 ‘The Big Picture’ Special

This is about as good a look at RCA TK 11/31s in action as you will ever get, but we also see Dumont 5098C cameras here. There are some RCA TK30s scattered in and even a small Dage portable and RCA’s Walky Looky. There’s a lot of camera footage here, but you’ll have to skip around some.

The first 10 minutes of this is done at the Army’s New York facility and is RCA heavy. Some of the TK30 footage of the war games was shot at West Point.

The second segment takes us to Augusta, Georgia and the Southeast Signal Corps School at Ft. Gordon (where I trained), and this installation was equipped with Dumont equipment, including a kinescope machine which we’ll see.

At around 14 minutes in, we see a small Dage portable and at 21, more of the mobile unit with TK30s. At 22:25 we see the RCA Walky Looky in action. Many of us that grew up in the 50s and 60s remember watching these ‘Big Picture’ presentations on our local stations. Do you remember? Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/aIRV6vfdt7Q

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Inside CBS Studios 41 And 42…Grand Central Terminal, Then And Now

Inside CBS Studios 41 And 42…Grand Central Terminal, Then And Now

In November of 1937, CBS was near completion of their first television transmitter on the 72nd and 73rd floors of the Chrysler Building. Across the street in Grand Central Terminal, work was underway on the new CBS television studios.

The studio space was 40 feet high, 230 feet long and 60 feet wide. There, two live production studios were built…41 and 42. Studios 43 and 44 were control rooms, but called studios. All four structures, plus a dressing room and some engineering space was packed into this room.

In the photo with the many fluorescent lights, we see the largest studio, 41. In the next black and white photo, we see Studio 42. I think there was a movable wall between them for huge productions and election night coverage.

Next is a photo of that space stripped and ready to become The Vanderbilt Tennis Club. In the exterior photo, we see circled the area of the building where this space is located. Finally, here’s a shot of the space as it looked a few years ago. I think the tennis courts are gone now and the space is now a lounge for conductors and engineers. Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee





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Follow Up…A Quick Glimpse Of The RCA A500 Cameras, Studio 3H


Follow Up…A Quick Glimpse Of The RCA A500 Cameras, Studio 3H

This is a rare look at some of the features of the RCA A500 cameras inside NBC Studio 3H. The important stuff is only 7 seconds long from 1:20 till 1:27 but there, we see the cameras clam shell opening style, the lenses, the focus handle and the upside down and inverted image in the ground glass optical viewfinder. This should start just before all this so be ready…it goes by fast. This was not in the guided tour video we saw earlier today, but I thought you may want to see it. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/e20TcY5AXLg?t=1m17sA brief history of television broadcasting beginning in 1932.

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What A Night! September 27, 1954…’Caesar’s Hour’ & ‘Tonight’ Debut

What A Night! September 27, 1954…’Caesar’s Hour’ & ‘Tonight’ Debut

A week or so back, we touched on this but here’s something new. Thanks to Maureen Carney, here is the ad that ran that day introducing not only ‘Caesar’s Hour’, but the rest of the television line up that Monday night, including the debut of ‘Tonight’ with Steve Allen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLGoNg9VzUk
At the link is what is thought to be the first “Commuters” sketch from the new Caesar show that ran that night. This is called “The White Rug” and features Sid Caesar, Nanette Fabray, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris and Janet Blair.

In ‘Your Show Of Shows’, there was a similar set of neighborly sketches called “The Hickenlooper’s” that Sid and Imogene Coca performed with Morris and Reiner. That was so successful, Caesar carried it over but took it from the city setting to the suburbs. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Follow Up…NBC’s Studio 3H And 5F, Historic Photos

Follow Up…NBC’s Studio 3H And 5F, Historic Photos

In the Guided Tour of Studio 3H I just posted, we saw the control room in action, but here is a closeup of the video shading board that was in use in 3H in 1937 and the information on the back of the photo.

A few days back, we also saw NBC’s second ever television installation in another video. That was Studio 5F and here is a shot of the 16 and 35MM projectors in the first ever telecine room. There are two Iconoscope cameras on the other side of the wall these are projecting into. This was built just after work was completed on 3H and probably went into service in early 1936. The photo is accompanied with the information on it’s back. Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee




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ULTRA RARE! Meet NBC’s FIRST CAMERAMAN…Albert W. Protzman

ULTRA RARE! Meet NBC’s FIRST CAMERAMAN…Albert W. Protzman

Late yesterday afternoon, I stumbled across this incredibly rare piece of television history in a happy accident, while researching the locations for the guided tour post just before this. In the coming days, I will share what I learned from Mr. Protzman’s writings, but for now…let’s meet the man.

Beginning his career at AT&T-Bell Laboratories School in 1922, Al Protzman became one of the first and youngest radio broadcast engineers in the country…he was 20 years old and working with the AT&T stations WEAF and WJZ, and later, with the National Broadcasting Company after its founding in 1926.

From 1930 to 1936 Protzman worked in Hollywood as a sound engineer for Fox Film and its successor 20th Century-Fox. Among his screen credits were several “Charlie Chan” films and “The Power and the Glory”, starring Spencer Tracy.

In 1936, NBC was just beginning television program tests and they approached Protzman with a job offer to become their first TV cameraman. He accepted and eventually became one of TV’s earliest Technical Directors. In 1939, Protzman presented a paper, “Television Studio Technique” to the Society of Motion Picture Engineers which described NBC’s TV experiments in great detail and I’ll share that with you soon.

Al Protzman retired in 1966 as Director of Technical Operations for NBC. He died in 1981 in Bronxville, New York, aged 79. Thanks to NBCU Photobank for the image. Enjoy and SHARE! -Bobby Ellerbee

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A Guided Tour Of Some Of Television’s Early Studios…


A Guided Tour Of Some Of Television’s Early Studios…

You may have seen this before, but may not have known the historic places you were seeing. Today, we will remedy that with a guided tour of this film, so let’s get started.

At 1:58 we are in GE’s WRGB in Schenectady NY. RCA began as a part of GE and early on, this facility was the GE experimental television center.

At 2:36 we see in the foreground at WRGB a three wheel camera “trolley”. It survived and is now on display at the Schenectady Museum along with two of these camera.

At 3:00 we see television’s first ever Mobile Unit…the twin van RCA creation with the camera control in one and the transmission gear in the other. These 38 foot units were built in 1938.

At 3:20 an RCA Field Iconoscope camera is being mounted and just after that, we are in the camera control van.

At 3:55 we see an RCA Type 1840 Orthicon camera in action. This is the first version of this camera we saw here yesterday.

At 4:04 we enter hallowed ground. This is NBC Studio 5F which was home to the first ever television film chain with a 35 and 16MM capacity. It was built in 1936, just after Studio 3H was converted from radio to television.

At 4:15 we get a rare look as CBS Studio 41…the largest of the two production studios at their Grand Central Terminal location. The cameras are the RCA A500 Iconoscope models. Studio 42 was a bit smaller.

At 5:06 we see the first ever animated television ID. I think the voice is Ben Grauer. This was rolled from Studio 5F.

At 5:30 we see the NBC antenna atop the Empire State Building

At 5:44 we are back inside WRGB where we get a look inside one of the GE Iconoscope cameras.

At 8:14 we are inside the RCA plant in Camden.

At 8:40 we may be inside the RCA Labs in Princeton where much of the early television testing was done.

Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWm5DhtverU

A U.S. Armed Forces report about the future of television in 1945. Footage from this subject is available for licensing from www.globalimageworks.com

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The RCA TK45…Making Beautiful Pictures in Australia, 1987


The RCA TK45…Making Beautiful Pictures in Australia, 1987

Although the clip is only a minute long, it’s one of the best looks you’ll get of the sharpness and clarity of the pictures these cameras made. This was the follow up to the RCA TK44B and was manufactured between 1973 and 1977 with a total of only 298 made. This is half the number of TK44s made as there were 639 of them made between 1969 and 1974. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PIlZikCal0

Source 1″ C Videotape

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SNL Classic! Behind The Scenes Of “The Continental” Sketches


SNL Classic! Behind The Scenes Of “The Continental” Sketches

This past Saturday night, the SNL classic episode that aired at 10 PM was the April 8, 2000 episode with Christopher Walken as host and the big sketch from this show was the “Cowbell” scene with Will Ferrell. But, whenever Walken hosts, he does a recurring character…”The Continental” which is always shot from the woman’s Point Of View by a hand held camera.

Here is “The Continental” sketch from February 22, 2003. This special video shows us what the studio audience is seeing as well as the home audience by way of a box insert from the hand held. I don’t know who the cameraman is, but Wally Feresten is the Q card man. As a matter of fact, Wally’s company does all the Q cards for NBC’s live shows both in New York and in LA.

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

The Making Of S*N*L’s “The Continental” – enjoy!

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Seems Like Only Yesterday…And It Was! CBS Sunday Morning

Seems Like Only Yesterday…And It Was! CBS Sunday Morning…

Thanks to Craig Wilson for these shots from yesterday’s show from Studio 45. Notice the three camera shot…Studio 45 is so big it hosts two shows…’CBS Sunday Morning’ and ‘Inside Edition’. Behind the three cameras you see one of the green cyclorama curtains and the ‘Inside Edition’ sign.

During the week, that whole side of Studio 45 is all green, floor and all as Deborah Norville’s show is done with a virtual set. I’ve included a shot I took of that set in May. They use a mannequin to help adjust the chroma for camera tests. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee





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The First Two RCA Orthicon Cameras…Early Indoor Test, 1940

The First Two RCA Orthicon Cameras…Early Indoor Test, 1940

These photos are opaque slides from a homestyle stereoscopic viewer. I think what we are seeing here are the first two RCA Orthicon cameras being tested. Notice there is (1) no focus control anywhere. In earlier posts today, we saw both the panhandle focus and the side mounted focus. (2) There is only a single lens and not the double fixed focal length lenses we see on the Iconoscope camera and later versions of this camera. (3) Notice also that there is no viewfinder on any of these cameras, but if you look closely you can see there is a removable door over that viewing port.

To reinforce my belief that these cameras did not have electronic viewfinders, notice the open door shot. This shows a single row of electronics in the VF area, but behind it is the light proof black box which encloses the ground glass – optical viewer. I think that row of tubes is associated with functions in the camera body below the VF.

As you view that open door shot, look at that huge exhaust port behind it (left bottom) and the single lens on the front (right bottom). In an earlier post, I had identified this first version of the Orthicon camera as the Type 1840…that name is due to the tube number inside which is the 1840, also seen here. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee




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The RCA Orthicon Camera On Location…1945

The RCA Orthicon Camera On Location…1945

While we are on the Orthicon Camera, here are a few interesting pictures of it in use in outside broadcasts. There are two photo here from the 1945 Macy’s Parade…one of the camera shooting down and one taken from the street showing the camera on the balcony of The Astor Hotel.

The photo of the camera with a banner was taken on VE Day in 1945 with the camera again at The Astor. Finally, a rare hand bill handed out on VE day to passers by announcing the televised coverage on WNBT. In the next post, we’ll see a real rarity…these cameras inside. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee




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Ultra Rare And Historic Photos Of The RCA Orthicon Camera

Ultra Rare And Historic Photos Of The RCA Orthicon Camera

Be sure and click on all six pictures. This the first time I have ever seen close ups like this and we even have a photo of the camera in it’s carrying mode. This is the second version of this camera and is probably from 1942 or ’43.

In the last photo, we see the early, 1940 version of the camera with it’s CCU and power supply. I think the original was called the Type 1840 and notice it has the focus control in the pan handle like the old Iconoscope cameras and the TK41s. Notice this newer model has the focus control on the right side of the camera body and this is the first time the focus control was mounted there.

Although Dumont had used electronic viewfinders from the start, I do not think either model of this RCA Orthicon camera had them. Given the lenses are the same dual fixed focal length configuration as the RCA Iconoscope cameras, I’m pretty sure this too had a ground glass – optical viewfinder as well.

The Orthicon debuted just a year after the 1939 World’s Fair and the official launch of electronic television. The Orthicon was the forerunner to the much better Image Orthicon tube which came into use in 1945. This is a big improvement over the Iconoscope, but…this tube still required a lot of light and these cameras were mostly used mostly outside. I do have some photos of them in a studio, but I think that was purely for testing and demonstration purposes. Thanks to NBCU Photobank for the images. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee






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A Detailed Guided Tour Of NBC…From 1926 – 1947


A Detailed Guided Tour Of NBC…From 1926 – 1947

With the help NBC veterans Joel Spector and Dennis Degan, we have identified the many places inside Radio City at 30 Rockefeller Plaza that is shown in this interior travelog of NBC. This is narrated by NBC legend Ben Grauer who we’ll also see in a couple of places.

In the first minutes, there are quick opening shots of Arturo Toscanini in 8H and the NBC Master Control room on the fifth floor which was in use from 1933 till 1963.

At 2:11, we get more quick shots of 8H, 3B and either 6A or B.

At 2:40, we see Ben Grauer in what it implied as a 1926 broadcast…this could be actual footage of him on stage at NBC’s first home at 711 5th Avenue, or it could be reproduced for this film. At 9:37, I think we see Ben again and he is older, so this may well be real footage from 711.

At 4:50, we see the exterior of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and just seconds later, we are in the lobby.

At 5:01 we get a look at the original lobby configuration which included the staircase to the large mezzanine and as the footage rolls, we wind up there. FYI, NBC is restoring these areas now and they will look a lot like this when they are finished next year. The staircase is located where the security desk was until just recently.

At 5:25 we see the original radio master control board used at 711 5th Avenue. It is in front of the new radio master control on the 5th floor.

At 6:45, after seeing the 5th floor, we enter NBC Radio Studio 3B which is now home to NBC Nightly News.

At 8:00, we find NBC’s legendary newscaster H. V. Kaltenborn in one of the many small news studios in the building. This was probably on the 4th floor, as was the newsroom that we see next.

At 14:20, we move into Studio 8H, which was then called “The Auditorium Studio”

At 14:52 we see director George Voutsas with engineer Gil Markle, both of whom Joel worked with in 1965.

At 17:20 we get a quick look at NBC Radio City West in Hollywood

At 19:08, I don’t know exactly where this is but suspect this could be Studio 3A.

Finally, at 21:55 we arrive in television land in Studio 8G, NBC’s second television studio. The first 8G broadcast was ‘Hour Glass’ and I am 99% certain that the show we see there is an episode of ‘Hour Glass’ which was a variety show.

We end with footage from 8H with The NBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee with thanks to Joel Spector and Dennis Degan.

http://youtu.be/ZvNF8scIar0

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