Posts in Category: Broadcast History

“Queen For A Day”, Fancy Remote Setup In Houston

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Fancy Remote Setup Isn’t It?

In the late 50s, ‘Queen For A Day’ would occasionally take the show on the road. When they did, the local NBC stations supplied the equipment and crews. This photo is from KPRC in Houston where a week of shows came from City Auditorium.


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The Kraft Music Hall: 1933-1971

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The Kraft Music Hall: 1933-1971

Surprised at the long run? Me too! I never realized the show started on NBC radio. The Kraft Program debuted June 26, 1933 as a musical-variety program featuring orchestra leader Paul Whiteman. During its first year the show went through a series of name changes, including Kraft Musical Revue, until it finally settled on Kraft Music Hall in 1934. Paul Whiteman remained the host until December 6, 1935. Ford Bond was the announcer.

Bing Crosby took over as master of ceremonies January 2, 1936 and hosted until May 9, 1946. For the advertising managers at Kraft, it was imperative that advertising and entertainment be kept separate. For this reason, Kraft insisted that an announcer, not cast members, read its commercials. Ed Hurlihy was the TV announcer.

After Crosby Kraft Music Hall went through a handful of short-lived hosts. Edward Everett Horton, Eddie Foy and Frank Morgan all hosted from 1945 through 1947. Nelson Eddy took over the summer spots in 1947 and with costar Dorothy Kirsten in 1948 and 1949. Al Jolson dotted the Kraft Music Hall landscape, first as an occasional guest from 1933 to 1935, then later as the star and host from 1947 to 1949. In 1947, Kraft started in television but went with dramas in the Kraft Television Theater.

The Kraft Music Hall started in television in 1958, replacing the dramatic anthology series Kraft Television Theater. Milton Berle hosted during the 1958 season. Beginning with the fall 1959 season, singer Perry Como became the host, and continued until 1967 (as a monthly series from 1963 through ’67). During the summer seasons, the show continued with new episodes, with a variety of guest hosts replacing Berle/Como. This rotation of guest hosts became a permanent feature when Como left the series in the winter of 1967 (with the Music Hall returning as a weekly series that fall), and continued until the series finally ended in 1971.

During its final years, Friar’s Club “Roasts” were occasionally broadcast on this series in place of the usual musically themed episodes. Later, these Roasts appeared as a separate series hosted by Dean Martin.


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The Gemini Video-Film System

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The Gemini Video-Film System

This system is in use at Vancouver’s CBUT, but I’ve seen this at MGM Teleproductions in NYC too. At MGM, they used this rig with RCA TK60s to shoot commercials. Gemini was born in the early 60s and it was used to make simultanious 16mm film and video tape masters. At the time, most local broadcasters did not have the capacity to handle video tape commercials. They may have had a video tape machine for programs, but the telecine chains were where they rolled spot breaks. This way, clients could shoot one session on video tape and film at the same time, edit both and distribute both film and tape spots to local stations, according to their playback ability.


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End Of An Era!The NBC sign comes down in Burbank.

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End Of An Era!

The NBC sign comes down in Burbank.
Photo courtesy of Dave Segar


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“Thank God For Canada”! RCA Sales Chant….

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“Thank God For Canada”! RCA Sales

From 1965 – 69, RCA sold a total of 376 TK42s. From 1967-70 they sold 93 TK43s. Except for a few dozen sold to the CBC and Radio Canada, all other sales were to local stations. It was the only RCA camera the US networks never bought. The next big camera sales to US networks were the TK44 and the TK47 studio cameras and the TK76 ENG camera.


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Behind The Scenes: The NFL Today, 1975

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Behind The Scenes: The NFL Today, 1975

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJaDfB4Ljgs

I had planned to do this story today anyway, but over the weekend, Dave Miller posted a great video to go with it. In the clip, start at the 13:20 mark and, except for a commercial break, the rest of the video is inside CBS Studio 45 at the Broadcast Center, BUT, don’t skip over the story below.

CBS veteran Gady Reinhold and I have had a few conversations about this live show and how complex it is to produce. With sometimes as many as 4 early games and 4 late games, the trick is to line up the half time breaks so they can all go back to NY at the around the same time. Remember, each game is being fed to different regions and time zones on separate channels.

The least complex way to get at least 2 games into the live half time show was to have the game announcers pad for time with a review of the first half on their end while waiting for another game or two to break if they were only a couple of minutes ahead.

Just like in the video attached here, each halftime show has a built in, prerecorded feature in the second part. If the game breaks for halftime too early, Studio 45 can feed the feature first and that game can join the live studio session after the feature, or, get a delayed tape feed of the live segment.

The live portion would include comments on all the games being covered was being recorded on several machines as they went, starting with the first 2 games to break. They would record the live A block till the fist commercial break on 2 machines, rewind and be ready for play back when the other games joined. The live B and C blocks would be done the same way on other machines. The D and E blocks were the prerecorded features.

Once the early games were over, there were the late games to do. Lather, rinse, repeat. Needless to say, this took a lot of instant communication and some very talented people to pull off.


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July 10, 1962: Telstar, The First Communications Satellite

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July 10, 1962: Telstar, The First Communications Satellite

What now seems common, was anything but, when Telstar went into orbit. Launched by NASA aboard a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral on July 10, 1962, Telstar 1 was the first privately-sponsored space launch. A medium-altitude satellite, Telstar was placed in an elliptical orbit completed once every 2 hours and 37 minutes, inclined at an angle of approximately 45 degrees to the equator.This is in contrast to most of today’s communications satellites, which are placed in circular geostationary orbits.

Due to its non-geosynchronous orbit, Telstar’s availability for transatlantic signals was limited to the 20 minutes in each 2.5 hour orbit when the satellite passed over the Atlantic Ocean. Ground antennas had to track the satellite with a pointing error of less than 0.06 degrees as it moved across the sky at up to 1.5 degrees per second.

Since the transmitting and receiving radio systems on board Telstar were not powerful, the ground antennas had to be huge. Bell Laboratories built the electrical portions of the system that steered the antennas. The aperture of the antennas was 3,600 square feet. The antennas were 177 feet (54 m) long and weighed 380 tons (340,000 kg). The antennas were housed in radomes the size of a 14-story office building.

The top link is to a short version video, the bottom to a very detailed longer version from the AT&T Archives. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRHpl2gZOo0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKH-GijnAGk

To see more from the AT&T Archives, visit http://techhchannel.att.com/archives The story of how the Bell System, in cooperation with NASA, developed the Tels…
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Hate ‘Happy Talk’ News? Me Too! Blame William Fyffe!

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Hate ‘Happy Talk’ News? Me Too! Blame William Fyffe!

William C. Fyffe, was the television news executive who pioneered the medium’s controversial “happy news” trend more than three decades ago.

From the Los Angeles Times: “The longtime president and general manager of WABC-TV in New York City, Fyffe developed his happy-talk format in the Midwest, particularly as station manager at WLS-TV in Chicago.

” ‘Happy news’ is a misnomer,” Fyffe told The Times in 1972 when he was news director at KABC and facing nationwide criticism. “It implies that TV news is all fun and games and goofing off. That’s not what we’re doing. We don’t mess with the news; the happy talk is between people, and that doesn’t occur on serious news.”

“The anchorman,” he said, “has become a rather computerized sort of guy. I, for one, haven’t been too sure anything was happening between his eye and his mouth. The way we do it, a real person has to be there. He has to be a solid journalist, not just a pretty face.”

He said the formula was meant to combine a “friendly, humanizing” attitude toward news, “more candor and directness” and features about good works, as well as reports on crime and disasters.

“Here we make an effort to find good news, yes,” he said in 1972, when the concept was still new. “Not to the exclusion of conflict and tragedy. But if we can’t also find the joy, the celebration of life that goes on every day, we’re liars. I like to leave the audience feeling that we’ve made intelligent choices, given them the stories they need information about, but also sure that the world is still going to be here tomorrow.”

Other networks and local newscasts quickly copied Fyffe’s formula, but often distorted and abused it to the scorn of critics and sophisticated viewers.

Not so with Fyffe’s work. Maury Green, a Times television columnist and television veteran himself, said in 1972 that anchors elsewhere seemed to be laughing it up far more than Fyffe’s crew.

As general manager, Fyffe was constantly under ratings pressure in the highly competitive New York market. In 1972, he hired Tom Snyder, then coming off eight years of NBC’s “Tomorrow” show, as WABC-TV anchor. But Fyffe had a prickly relationship with Snyder, and suspended him for a week without pay in 1983 for making an obscene gesture to a stagehand. Snyder left when his contract expired and returned to Los Angeles.

Fyffe also made unpopular decisions, irking other on-air talent. When he moved colorful New York columnist Jimmy Breslin’s “People” to 1 a.m. Fridays and 1:30 a.m. Mondays–too late, Breslin complained, for even late-night New Yorkers to be awake and watching–Breslin lashed back in his New York Daily News column.

“Bill Fyffe,” Breslin suggested, should “do the honorable thing and jump in front of a bus.”

Fyffe that year also dropped the Los Angeles-based show “Entertainment Tonight” in favor of a revived “Hollywood Squares” to get higher ratings. And, again in a quest for better ratings in New York, he advanced the time slot of ABC network news to pit the popular game show “Jeopardy” against Tom Brokaw at NBC and Dan Rather at CBS.


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February 11, 1954: 6th Annual Emmy Awards Show

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February 11, 1954: 6th Annual Emmy Awards Show

Live from the Hollywood Palladium, Ed Sullivan hosted the ceremonies broadcast by KHJ TV, but only to the local audience. Starting in March 7, 1955, NBC took over, and the awards show has been seen nation wide ever since. In ’55, Steve Allen and Dave Garroway hosted via split screen from LA and NYC. Notice about a minute in how the KHJ cameras, with very long lenses, artfully avoid each other during Vivian Vance’s walk to the platform.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfg8Sw_0Lw4

6th Annual Emmys. Vivian Vance wins as well as best situation comedy for I Love Lucy.
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September 4, 1951: Coast To Coast Television Now Possible

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1951: Coast To Coast Television Now Possible

On September 4, 1951,President Harry S. Truman’s opening speech before a conference in San Francisco is broadcast across the nation, marking the first time a television program was broadcast from coast to coast. The broadcast, via then-state-of-the-art microwave technology, was picked up by 87 stations in 47 cities, according to CBS.

On November 18, 1951, Edward R. Murrow on See It Now presents the first live coast-to-coast commercial television broadcast in the US, showing a split screen view of the New York Harbor and the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. That video from Studio 41 at the CBS Grand Central location is below…Don Hewitt is directing.

This east – west link was made possible because of AT&T’s new microwave radio-relay skyway, the first facilities to transmit telephone, radio and television across the United States by radio rather than wire or cable.

The new route, at the time the longest microwave system in the world, relayed calls along a chain of 107 microwave towers, spaced about 30 miles apart. AT&T spent about three years building it at a cost of $40 million.

On Sept. 4, the largest single television audience to date – estimated at more than 30 million people – saw and heard President Harry Truman open the Japanese Peace Treaty Conference in San Francisco. The nation’s first coast-to-coast telecast, this broadcast was made possible when AT&T met a U.S. State Department request to advance the TV opening of the new system by a month.

The historic program went off without a hitch. The New York Times reported that “the image reproduced on screens in the New York area, nearly 3,000 miles from the scene, had excellent clarity and compared favorably with programs of local origin. The contrast was of first-rate quality and there was no distortion.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7fu5M5OFe8

A clip from the first program of the 50’s CBS series See It Now with Edward . Morrow.
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NBC Burbank, 1959: Video Tape Bay 3

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NBC Burbank, 1959: Video Tape Bay 3

This is an early look at the video tape department in Burbank. There were three bays of RCA TRT 1 Cs with 4 machines in each bay. Machines 11 and 12 are seen on the back wall. Twelve machines were needed not only to record shows produced there, but to record and playback network feeds for time delay broadcasts. Photo from RCA Broadcast News, March, 1959.


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Marconi Mark IIs Cover Empire Games, Vancouver

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CBUT Marconi Mark IIs Cover Empire Games, Vancouver

The Mark II cameras that were just found were a key element in covering this, and all events of the 1954 Empire Games.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jP_NzZP_LK0

On 6th May 1954, Roger Bannister ran the first sub-4-minute mile at Iffley Road, Oxford. He held his world record for just six weeks before his great rival, …
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Inside The Marconi Mark II

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Inside The Marconi Mark II


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Marconi Mark IIs and Great Detail Of Early Zoom Lens

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When The CBUT Mark IIs Were Brand New

This is a photo from August of 1954 showing camera one of four CBUT Marconi Mark IIs covering swimming competition at Vancouver’s newly constructed Empire Pool. Vancouver was the host city of the Empire (aka Commonwealth) Games of 1954. This camera is equipped with a Watson 5 x 1 zoom lens. Just above the cameraman’s hand, you can see the manual zoom demand.


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‘The Good Ship Hope’: NBC September 7, 1962, Operations map

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‘The Good Ship Hope’: NBC September 7, 1962

Here is the Operations map of this show’s feed. Hosted by Ralph Bellamy, this was a one hour special about the hospital ship ‘Hope’ helping civilians in Vietnam. Thanks to Gady Reinhold for saving and sharing this.


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The Little Theater: 240 West 44th Street in Midtown Manhattan

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The Little Theater: 240 West 44th Street in Midtown Manhattan

Now known as The Helen Hayes Theater, this was formerly the Little Theater, New York Times Hall and Winthrop Ames Theater. It was built with 597 seats, but reconfigured for TV, seating was reduced to 300.

CBS used the theater as a radio studio for a time, but it was converted to television by ABC in 1958 and renamed the Little Theater. Dick Clark’s ‘Saturday Beechnut Show’ originated there from February 1958 through September 1961. During this time ABC also broadcast the daytime show ‘Who Do You Trust’ with Johnny Carson from the theater.

In the mid 60s, Westinghouse Broadcasting taped the popular syndicated Merv Griffin Show there and later, The David Frost Show. The 1969-70 season of the game show ‘Beat the Clock’ hosted by Jack Narz was also taped there. In April 2011, Colin Quinn’s one-man show ‘Long Story Short’ was recorded there as an HBO special.


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August 6, 1960: ‘The Twist’ Debuts & How Chubby Got His Name!

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August 6, 1960: ‘The Twist’ Debuts & How Chubby Got His Name!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbK0C9AYMd8

At the start of this great clip, Dick Clark’s intro of Chubby is done in front of a crane mounted RCA TK10 at The Little Theater, home to Clark’s New York based ‘Saturday Night Beechnut Show’ which he did once a week for 3 years. Below, Conway Twitty, Chubby Checker and Dick Clark twist it up for the camera at rehearsal. In 1960, Conway was still a pop artist and had not yet gone to the country side.

How Chubby Checker Got His Name:

After hearing Philadelphia’s Ernest Evans do a spot on impression of Fats Domino one night, Dick Clark’s wife nick named him Chubby Checker. Later, Dick talked to a local record label about rerecording Hank Ballard’s original version of ‘The Twist’ with a black artist and suggested Evans. The rest as they say is history.


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The Famous, ABC Made, Hand Held Camera, In Action!

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The Famous, ABC Made, Hand Held Camera, In Action!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqCwwYOiIFg

At the very front of this clip from ABC’s Silver Anniversary, Frank Gifford holds up and demonstrates the ‘Creepy Peepy’ camera and suggests it came into use in September of 1960 on the sidelines when ABC won the rights to televise college football. I think the ‘camera’ Gifford is using is a prop because it has no cable, but it’s the thought that counts. I’ve heard it is made from an old TK10, but I’m not sure. Our friend Don ‘Peaches’ Langford would know for sure, but I think there was more than one of these made. By the way, I recently saw the video of the log rolling event this camera is shooting below…it was on a Wide World Of Sports show and the picture looked as good as the big camera pictures. I’m trying to relocate it.


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WOW! Lou Costello was One Hell Of A Guy!

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WOW! Lou Costello was One Hell Of A Guy!

He had some hard times, but was a major philanthropist. I smiled most of the way through this whole episode. Very touching tribute.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAbIPO2rTkg

Starring Bud Abbott, Carole Costello, Chris Costello, Lou Costello , Paddy Costello-Humphreys, Ralph Edwards, and Edward Sherman… Lou Costello was surprise…
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Look Sharp…Feel Sharp…Be Sharp!

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Look Sharp…Feel Sharp…Be Sharp!

That was the Gillette Razor ad copy and I still remember it, and the great opening music of the Cavalcade Of Sports show like it was yesterday. I used to watch this with my dad on Friday nights. Here’s the intro…enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6cyy_rziuk

Featuring the Look Sharp March 1958
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Flying By The Seat Of Her Pants…Almost

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Flying By The Seat Of Her Pants…Almost

Before mounting the Chapman Electra stage crane for another round of ‘Family Feud’, our friend Donna Quante ‘checks the oil’ on her Norelco PC70. Very nice shot and we thank Donna for it, and many others. Do you have pix to share?


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Flying By The Seat Of His Pants…But Just Barely

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Flying By The Seat Of His Pants…But Just Barely

Marconi Mark II cameras capture the action of scene, but the real action is on the end of that dolly boom. That’s quite a balancing act. I see a Vinten logo on the boom arm, but don’t recognize the model. Neither the Pathfinder II dolly or the Heron stage crane had lattice work supports in the boom arms like this one. Maybe this is a Pathfinder I manual dolly. Anyone know?


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The First Hand Held Broadcast Camera

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The First Hand Held Broadcast Camera

This is the RCA ‘Walkie Lookie’ miniature wireless Vidicon camera designed for coverage of the 1952 Political Conventions. With so much attention to the Ikegami ‘Handy Lookie’ in the posts below, I just wanted to remind you who was actually first with this technology. RCA and the USA!


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The First Ikegami Studio Camera

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Mystery Solved #1 The First Ikegami Studio Camera

Without a doubt, this is the first professional studio camera from Ikegami. The camera with the big box zoom lens is the Ikegami TK 301A. I had searched and searched for a photo, but all I could find was a tiny thumbnail size. When I blew it up, I realized I had a photo of it in my archives from the NHK Museum in Japan. FYI, the two cameras behind it are early Toshibas. This camera debuted in 1971 and made the name of Ikegami synonymous with cameras. The TK 301A was used extensively in the Sapporo Winter Olympic Games in Japan.

Ikegami was busy developing it’s ENG line with the HL 33 debuting in 1973 and the HL 79A in 1979. Their experience with these lead them to the studio sized HK 312 in 1981. With the introduction of the 312, came the change from the TK designation to HK (Handy Kamera) and of course the HL stands for Handy Lookie.


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Mystery Solved…First Pedestals Were Electric!

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Mystery Solved #2

I had thought the old pedestals used with the Iconoscope cameras in the 30s and 40s were perhaps hydrolac, but…not anymore. Thanks to further research by our friend Paul Beck, we now know these peds had an electric motor to take them up and down. In reexamining my archives, I came across this photo that may actually show the foot switch that operates the motor. Take a close look at the bottom right of the pedestal. These cameras were more bulk than weight and a small electric motor could easily handle the load of 100 pounds or less.


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Ampex Training Tape: VR 2000

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Ampex Training Tape: VR 2000

In a super rare set of tapes from Ampex, here are all three parts of the 1964 master training session for all new owners of the Ampex VR 2000, color capable, video tape recorder. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bFPPJgFUJg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVmqqNitHJg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjC-TsFbClI

Ampex training on the operation of the VR-2000 2″ Quad VTR, part 1
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Ah Ha!Ever wonder how they get those great underwater shots

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Ah Ha!

Ever wonder how they get those great underwater shots in swimming events? This the the Spirit system from Deep Vision. Check out the demo video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CSLua9eoePk#!


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The EMI 203

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The EMI 203

This handsome camera debuted in 1960 with a 4 1/2 inch Image Orthicon tube. Here, BBC veteran cameraman Ron Green is at the controls and both are riding the Vinten, Heron studio crane. A few weeks back I posted a photo of this lens model from Angenieux, which is made for use with turret cameras. The show is ‘Top Of The Pops’.


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Time For Beany! April 1950

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Time For Beany! April 1950

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMQL0wW8wns
Below is a photo from April of 1950 at KTLA. In the middle, doing Cecil is Stan Freberg and on the right is Daws Butler doing Beany. I’m not sure who the ‘spare hand’ is handling the seltzer bottle, but it could be producer Bob Clampett. If not, it may be one of the writers Charles Shows or Lloyd Turner. The puppets, created by Maurice Seiderman. The puppet show ran from 1949 till 1955. Freberg and Butler left in early 53 and were replaced by Jim MacGeorge and Irv Shoemaker. The link above is to an early episode.


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‘Westinghouse Studio One’, The Scarlet Letter: April 1950

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‘Westinghouse Studio One’, The Scarlet Letter: April 1950

In 1948, ‘Westinghouse Studio One’ made a quantum leap from radio to television. The television series was seen on CBS from 1948 through 1958, under several variant titles: Studio One Summer Theater, Summer Theater, Westinghouse Studio One and Westinghouse Summer Theater.

CBS produced the show in New York and it was telecast live in the east, but a kinescope had to be shipped to LA for broadcast the next week until AT&T connected east and west in 1951. In later years, they moved the show to Television City as ‘Studio One From Hollywood’. Offering a wide range of dramas, Studio One received Emmy nominations every year from 1950 to 1958 and produced 466 memorable teleplays.


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