Thames TV: did they...
 
Share:
Notifications
Clear all

Thames TV: did they have mobile VTR units and wireless mics in early 70s?

Page 1 / 2
 
Alex728
(@alex728)
Trusted V-Ratter Registered

Been watching a few of these clips, and one thing I've noticed is that there isn't the level of film scratches (other than the Thames logo) or grain normally seen on 1970s TV shot on location on 16mm reversal, also Tony Bastable (and sometimes Shaw Taylor) are often wearing lavalier mics or using a hand held microphone but aren't trailing long microphone leads (eg back to a mixer and Nagra IV which I've seen on other "behind the scenes" footage of that era).

Often when Shaw Taylor uses a hand held mic the cable appears to be leading to his suit jacket pocket (to a portable VHF TX in there?)

Was Thames already equipped for mobile video recording as early as then (and the use of VHF wireless microphones?)

ReplyQuote
Topic starter Posted : 10/09/2020 10:16 pm
PYE625 and jcdaze liked
Katie Bush
(@katie-bush)
Illustrious V-Ratter Moderator

I want to say "Very possibly". I remember Tandy (Radio Shack) selling a domestic version of their own VHF/FM 'radio mike' in the mid to late '70s which operated in the 88 - 108MHz range. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that professional versions would have been around for some years before then.

In later years I remember seeing the classic lollipop mikes, mounted on stands, but with no wires attached. However, a closer look at the mike would reveal a square box shape mounted where the XLR connector would normally be (transmitter module), and a short wire tail (antenna) dangling out of the bottom.

Just who was the first broadcaster to employ the technology, I haven't a clue though it would be odd if the BBC weren't at the head of the pack.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 10/09/2020 10:36 pm
Alex728 liked
irob2345
(@irob2345)
Reputable V-Ratter Registered

Well those pictures came from a low band UMatic (probably a Sony Portapack) and a 3 tube camera. I can't say what camera but it looks like a Sony as well.

VHF radio mics were certainly available in 1974. Ch 9 used them at the time inside cricket stumps to record the sound around the batsman.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 11/09/2020 1:23 am
Alex728 liked
irob2345
(@irob2345)
Reputable V-Ratter Registered

Well, probably not a Sony, the pics are better than those from the 1200, and also better than the 1600 was capable of. The recorder was a VO3800.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 11/09/2020 2:53 am
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered

@irob2345

I think you're projecting what was possibly Australian practice onto the UK.

Low-band U-matic was deemed unsuitable for broadcast (certainly by the BBC) so high-band is more likely, unless there was a portable 2" VTR in use - and if the cameras were lightweight, they were more likely to be Bosch-Fernseh KCR-40s than anything Japanese. It was still British first, followed by European manufacturers in the UK broadcast industry then. I can't remember if Drive In was a segment within a longer news programme or a stand-alone show though.

Thames did take TV cameras out on to the streets in the late 60s/early 70s, so had some experience; some exteriors of the original two series of Special Branch are very obviously on VT rather than film, which was the BBC's preferred method. When Special Branch reappeared in 1973 with a new cast it was the first outing for the new 'Euston Films' and shot entirely on film.

Marion - you still get little plug-in transmitters for conventional microphones: I encounter then at work, and those I can't fix at work I send to Doz for repair!

ReplyQuote
Posted : 11/09/2020 9:57 am
irob2345
(@irob2345)
Reputable V-Ratter Registered

@cathovisor

Observe the head switching at the bottom of frame and the fact that hi-band wasn't available in 1974. Sure it could have gone through archiving on low band. But I think it's more likely it was captured on a VO3800 and duped straight to quad for editing. The 3800s on a single generation were quite capable of the quality we see in this sequence. They were used in news broadcast on occasions in Oz by everyone except the ABC who stuck with film and OB microwave links far longer than anyone else.

I ruled out Sony cameras after I checked the models and dates. There was obviously a hand-held camera used in that long walking take and that, and the picture quality rules out a lot of possible contenders. Link didn't have a candidate in 1974. Other than that the tubes look like Plumbicons.

But I really can't pick the camera.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 11/09/2020 3:17 pm
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered

@irob2345

I suspect it's an archive copy, not original material. Some of this channel's output has VTR status pages on it, some is even mute.

But Sony simply did not have a foothold in the UK for broadcast cameras at that time. Ikegami came along in the mid-80s and most of the IBA were Marconi customers.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 11/09/2020 3:46 pm
irob2345
(@irob2345)
Reputable V-Ratter Registered

Sony didn't really have broadcast-able cameras until the 80's anyway!

What was a popular ENG setup here by '74 - '75 with the 7, 9 and 10 networks for a little while was the VO3800 and the RCA TK76. I can recall seeing some on-air pics from a TK76 that looked better than the studio Marconis. Embarrassingly so!

ReplyQuote
Posted : 11/09/2020 3:58 pm
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered
Posted by: @irob2345

I can recall seeing some on-air pics from a TK76 that looked better than the studio Marconis. Embarrassingly so!

Not difficult where Marconi cameras were concerned.

I know one or two ex-Thames employees, maybe they can shed some light but I'm not hopeful.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 11/09/2020 6:47 pm
Alex728
(@alex728)
Trusted V-Ratter Registered

I managed to unearth this - seems that Thames used a fully kitted out OB scanner with Ampex VTR for Drive-in.. 

https://becg.org.uk/2020/05/18/a-review-of-the-thames-television-ob-fleet-part-1/

ReplyQuote
Topic starter Posted : 11/09/2020 11:38 pm
irob2345
(@irob2345)
Reputable V-Ratter Registered

Well yes, now we know.

There's still the mystery of that hand-held take though......

Did you see many TK76s in the UK? They did appear in Europe, hard to miss the blue. They were very big for a short time here. A revolutionary design, much imitated.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 12/09/2020 12:59 am
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered

@alex728

D'you know, I did wonder if it was a 'proper' scanner involved but foolishly discounted the idea on the basis that it was a bit 'sledgehammer to crack a nut'!

Marconi Mk. VIIs... my old senior engineer would be getting flashbacks to the temperamental thick film units in them now! TC6 opened with these cameras, TC7 (and later TC8) with EMI 2001s. The Marconi cameras were soon replaced with 2001s and later TC6 became the first 3-tube studio with the Link 110.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 12/09/2020 8:23 am
Alex728 liked
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered
Posted by: @irob2345

There's still the mystery of that hand-held take though......

Reading the link Alex has thoughtfully provided, it makes mention of the Philips LDK13. 

ReplyQuote
Posted : 12/09/2020 8:28 am
colourstar
(@colourstar)
Honorable V-Ratter Registered

I think this 1972 extract from Thames' Magpie might just answer the question as it shows of the then-new portable camera pack

As regards radio mikes, they have been around since the 1960s- I think they were used on ATV's Palladium shows. Also if you have the excellent Blue Peter Book of Television from 1969, there's a look at the studio, including a photo of John Noakes holding a microphone connected by a short cable to a transmitter pack in the back pocket of his trousers.

 

Impressively Thames even managed to use early location video abroad for Wish You Were Here. This must date from about 1973

 

Steve

ReplyQuote
Posted : 12/09/2020 8:38 am
Alex728 liked
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered

Ah, a 2001 and what looks like a Vinten HP - happy days. 

ReplyQuote
Posted : 12/09/2020 12:36 pm
Katie Bush
(@katie-bush)
Illustrious V-Ratter Moderator

Wow, a portable neck breaker! I wonder how many compensation claims came from camera operators, after using that portable rig?  It's a far cry form the "Steadicam" mounts of today., but it also serves to show why people like us need to preserve even the not so old, and the innocuous, kit that we might still not personally consider to be vintage.

Hmm, a pint of bitter for 20p? That's a long time ago! I'd bet petrol was still less than 50p per gallon?

ReplyQuote
Posted : 12/09/2020 8:07 pm
Katie Bush
(@katie-bush)
Illustrious V-Ratter Moderator
Posted by: @alex728

I managed to unearth this - seems that Thames used a fully kitted out OB scanner with Ampex VTR for Drive-in.. 

https://becg.org.uk/2020/05/18/a-review-of-the-thames-television-ob-fleet-part-1/

I'm curious as to how one of those OB units ended up in New York (our just outside it)?

 

ReplyQuote
Posted : 12/09/2020 8:20 pm
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered

@katie-bush

A full Steadicam outfit still looks terrifying to me - certainly I remember complaints even about "modern" cameras that they were too heavy for hand-held use and thus came the Thomson Microcam - which separated the optical block from the rest of the electronics and thus worked in the way we see things like the LDK13 and Link 120, but this time without a backpack. I'd certainly object to putting some modern cameras on my shoulder, especially if they had a really good lens like an HA22 on the front.

Steadicam operators earn every penny.

Oh, and I remember petrol being 38p a gallon in the mid-70s.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 12/09/2020 8:21 pm
Katie Bush
(@katie-bush)
Illustrious V-Ratter Moderator
Posted by: @cathovisor

@katie-bush

Steadicam operators earn every penny.

Oh, and I remember petrol being 38p a gallon in the mid-70s.

I can imagine they do, but look at the rock steady quality work they produce. I'm surprised in way, that there isn't more 'in camera' image stabilisation, either optical, or digital. I was suitably impressed by capability of my tiny little Canon FX-1 Hybrid Camera (a very rare camera in the UK) which employs purely optical image stabilisation.

I could envisage the full Steadicam kit being almost like a whole body orthotic appliance. Not very handy for urban explorers, eh?

I remember petrol at 3'6d a gallon, in the 1960s, about 18p in today's money! It hit 50p a gallon during the oil embargo around '74/'75, and has just gone plumb crazy since then. I remember at work saying "I'll not even bother with a licence if it gets to 50p a gallon" - then it did, and I revised upper limit to £1. And, I'm still driving! Or, will be if I can get one of my motors through its MOT!

ReplyQuote
Posted : 12/09/2020 8:36 pm
Alex728 liked
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered
Posted by: @katie-bush
Posted by: @alex728

I managed to unearth this - seems that Thames used a fully kitted out OB scanner with Ampex VTR for Drive-in.. 

https://becg.org.uk/2020/05/18/a-review-of-the-thames-television-ob-fleet-part-1/

I'm curious as to how one of those OB units ended up in New York (our just outside it)?

 

There's several New Yorks in the UK. 

ReplyQuote
Posted : 12/09/2020 9:01 pm
Page 1 / 2