An excerpt from ABC TV in Focus, a book given to potential advertisers in February 1963.
Programmes are moving pictures, music, voices-and captions, animated cartoons, still photographs, graphic designs. Studio cameras, gramophone records, magnetic tapes and microphones can take care of the former. But some other form of picture and sound device is necessary for the screening of filmed programmes like The Human Jungle, the animated triangle symbol that introduces every ABC production, complex caption and graphic design effects, and the slotting in of sequences that can be shot more easily and economically with a film camera.
The need for such a device led naturally to the development of telecine; in its simplest form a single-lens camera aimed at an image produced by a film projector. In its most highly developed form (a refinement of one of the earliest scanning devices used by Baird) it does away with the projected image and instead directs a spot of light – along a pattern identical to that followed by the electron beam that creates the picture on a television screen – through the film and onto a photo-electric cell. Each of these latest telecine units – there are three at Teddington – consists of a flying-spot projector, two machines for presenting 35 and 16mm film, and a slide carrier. All can be pre-loaded, and selected and operated from the control suite requiring the picture feed. Allied to each telecine unit is a caption scanning unit. This too can be pre-loaded and controlled by a Vision Mixer in any of the production control suites.
In it are two caption holders shaped like paddle wheels and each capable of presenting any one of sixteen captions, still photographs, or pieces of graphic design at the touch of a button; a VTR clock, an ABC-designed-and-built device for identifying video tape recordings and cueing the studio at the start of ‘transmission’ runs; and a roller-caption machine, used mainly for the moving ‘credits’ at the end of a programme. Each has its own light source and is scanned by a single vidicon camera through a multiplicity of prisms as it is selected and illuminated. As with other sources, the feed from each telecine/caption suite must be monitored; skilfully adjusted for perfect picture quality before being passed to the bank of pre-view screens in the Director’s suite. This is the Telecine Operator’s job. Following the studio through monitor and ‘talk-back’, alone in almost permanent twilight, he is alert for the cue ‘roll telecine!’
About the author
The Promotion Department, based at 1 Hanover Square in London, was responsible for promoting ABC programmes in the press and for explaining the process of television to potential advertisers.