The following are snapshots from Roy Trumbull's personal library.
Roy is the retired Asst. Chief Engineer of KRON-TV in San Francisco, CA
These were borrowed from Roy's web site and used here with his permission.
"Television - a medium. So called because it is neither rare nor well done." - Ernie Kovacs
Early TV Camera - Science In Action Circa 1951
The snake isn't the subject; it's the camera, which was typical of cameras in the 1950s. Such cameras employed three or four lenses of different focal lengths. If the camera was to move in for a close-up, the appropriate lens would have to be in place and the camera moved physically close to the subject. The lens turret typically held a close-up lens, a normal lens, and a telephoto lens. The fourth position was used for a special purpose lens, such as a wide-angle lens or it might be the capped position for the camera. Programs required a lot of planning to allow for lens changing and camera movement. Cameramen had to be fleet of foot and the floor director had to keep the camera cable from blocking the tripod wheels. The early tripods were film camera tripods and TV camera tripods with skirts (to block contact with the cable) were off into the future. Before the camera could be moved, the wheels had to be set (rotated) to avoid the wooble associated with a wheel turning around into alignment.
The Platform Mic Boom
Early television borrowed a lot from how things were done on movie sound stages. On many entertainment or interview programs an operator stood on a moveable platform which had an elevated multisection mic boom at its center. The sections could be extended or reduced with a hand crank. The boom angle could also be set by the operator. Stagehands moved the platform to where it was needed. There was always the potential of getting either the mic or its shadow into the shot. As it was often the only mic in use, there were no acoustic phase cancellation problems. The downside was that unwanted stray sound would be picked up.
The Glamour of Television
If I had to tell the story of TV in the 1950s with one photo, this would be the photo. Pictured here is Don Anderson doing a remote. He has a microwave transmitter and a camera control unit. There is a PL box for communication with the director and other crew members. The typical station would take their studio cameras to do a remote as there were no cameras bought just for doing remotes. The circuitry was all vacuum tube based with plenty of high voltage to zap the unwary. Failure was the norm. Note the open tube box next to the flashlight and the loose tube at the bottom right of the microwave transmitter. It was amazing when everything worked right.
Film Islands- once very common and now rare
A single camera was typically shared by two Telecine projectors and a slide projector. It worked through the use of 45 degree mirrors in an optical multiplexer that routed the image from one of the projectors to the camera. In the case of the slide projector, no mirrors were used. The projectors held each frame for 3 then 2 television fields so that the 24 film frames/ sec lasted for 60 television fields. This is the so-called three two pull down everyone gripes about. Sound for a news story usually ran as a full coat magnetic track on a separate projector from the story.
Quad tape was the most widely used broadcast tape format from 1956 until 1982. It was replaced by the 1" helical "type C" reel-to-reel format and then by analog and digital cassette formats. It was called Quad because the headwheel contained 4 heads 90 degrees apart. The tape was scanned right angle to its motion. The head to tape contact was maintained by a vacuum guide and there was a pronounced high pitch sound from the head to tape contact. One head pass recorded or reproduced only 16 lines so you couldn't see pictures when moving the tape at high speed. Shown are two RCA TR70Bs. The earliest quad machines were made by Ampex.
This is a small control room dating to the late 1960s. There is a position for the technical director, director and producer. Later designs favored wider layouts with several levels in the room. At the network level there were usually three tiers. The top one was occupied by a Greek chorus of producers.
You didn't go on a remote or return from a remote without doing an inventory of all the items needed/used. Here Don Anderson checks off items on his clip board list.
|KRON-TV Control Room circa 1950
This control room was in the basement of the Chronicle Building at 5th and Mission in San Francisco. Some control rooms in the 1950s had visual contact with the studio. Note the kitchen set seen through the window. The cameraman is adjusting an easel card. Electronic still stores are 35 years off into the future. Music comes from 16 inch transcription disks. Film recording (kinescope recording) is the only way to store TV programs. Video tape recording won't be invented until 1956 or widely adopted until the 1960s.
GVG 1600-7K installed 1978
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