AP mast (2K)

DIRECT TELEVISION from ALEXANDRA PALACE

by Arthur Dungate

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Victory At Sea, and Flowerpots.....


Victory At Sea LP cover (6K)

In 1953 we were showing a series of films about World War II called "Victory At Sea". It had been made by NBC in America and, after the title sequence each episode started with "And Now.....".

Since each film was a bit under half an hour, all three reels were joined onto one 3,000ft spool of 35mm film, which was quite a weight to lift up into the top spool box. But it did allow us to run the film on one machine without having to do a changeover.

But if that wasn't enough, each film had a short explanatory talk stuck onto the front, by some learned history professor. A filmed talking head which went on for several minutes.

At the time I thought this was very boring, but maybe if I heard it now I might think differently. I think that's him arrow (1K)

Talking head intro (3K)
RACKING

A film is "out-of-rack" when the image appears slightly too far up or down, showing part of the black rack bar at top or bottom.

The sound on the 35mm comopt prints we got from NBC had a wide dynamic range which Presentation upstairs in CCR at AP didn't like, so we took it in turns, one of us standing by the Cintel scanner watching the soundtrack on the film as it came off the top spool (thus giving us a couple of seconds before that part of the soundtrack arrived at the soundhead). It was easy to see the modulation on the track, so we would shout "loud music" when we saw high modulation coming, and whoever was sitting at the control console would fade down the sound a bit, bringing it up again for the narration which had been recorded at a lower level than the music.

(Rack) King for a day!
Film programmes such as this used lots of archive newsreel footage and often the pictures would be "out of rack" to varying extents. On the rehearsal (all films were rehearsed before transmission) one of us would be designated "Rack King" for the showing and so at times it was my duty to stand beside whichever Cintel scanner was on air, with my hand on the racking knob attempting to correct for out-of-rack sequences as soon as they appeared on screen.

One day when showing a film which included shots from a wartime newsreel, Tony Cheale noticed some vertical streaking when people in the shot moved left to right etc. Horizontal streaking can occur in a television picture due to a fault in the system and the fact that a tv picture is scanned horizontally, but he wondered what could cause vertical streaking.

At the time I couldn't answer but subsequently found out that it was due to "developer fatigue" when the original negative had been processed. In wartime, chemicals were in short supply and so film developers were used to their maximum and not replenished so frequently.

Programmes for children?

Andy Pandy (6K)

And from the serious to the....(!). Central Telecine would show films for children such as "Andy Pandy". I wonder if anyone now reading this was part of my audience when I used to run those films?

Watching Andy Pandy (5K)

It was about this time, 1953, that "The Flowerpot Men" came along. - Now that really did get us laughing..... We thought it hilarious and were all going round muttering "Sklugalug", and "Little Weeee-eed".....

Flowerpot Men (6K)

It was a man called Peter Hawkins who did all those weird voices. One day I was walking along the top corridor by Studio B, which was no longer used for live television but relegated for occasional shooting of film sequences, and I found a FlowerPot Men being filmed.

There was Mary Bird playing at an upright piano, and hunched round the piano were the other participants, pulling the puppet strings and banging little gongs and sticks and things. I tell you I've never seen or heard anything so peculiar!

group round piano (3K)

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