Conversations November 2015 to May 2016

It is a lively bunch who gather round the virtual table in the virtual (tea) bar to chew the fat, and who offer items interest, opinions and information over a wide range of topics.

Things that we discussed but have not included here – as not being relevant to the Tech Ops history site – include Broadband speeds, MAC versus PC, adding various types of PCs to a networks – and the oldest computer in regular use between us. That’s just a small sample!

And what is the collective name for a group of OB Engineering Managers?

Suggestions ranged from a “A Chaos”, a Plot,  an Emsworth, an Eminency, an Emergency, a “cut & paste” of Ems, an “OBTW” of EMs (This, Oh by the way, was a verbal addition to all planning sheets. The bigger the show, the more additional EMs, and hence the addition of even more  “OBTWs”!)

One topic more than any other has featured in this selection – the quality of sound in current television programmes. We were all taught – at Wood Norton but more practically in the studios – that sound perspective mattered and that sound should match the shot (and vice versa, of course). Cameramen and boom operators worked together – or, rather, sound and vision professionals worked together – to provide the best possible experience for the people at home. The conversations about sound have been split over more than 5 sections here.

So here is the sixth collection stories of how life in TV (and related industry) was for those who worked for the BBC – and why we express concern about the quality of sound and vision in current broadcast productions. There is a lot about Sound in these conversations!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ADAPT project – Sound Technology and the BBC Academy

The Adapt Project is investigating the history of television production technologies in Britain.

Tim Heath’s personal research focuses on the history of sound technologies for television from 1960 to the present day. As part of his research he needs to speak to those, retired or still working, who may have worked in any area of television sound to discuss their careers and experiences using historical technologies.

A formal response to this, coordinated by Pat Heigham, is here Discourse on TV Technology over the years

This section is part of the usual Tech Ops discussions.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A Pretty Nurse is …

Each BBC site had a surgery where one ventured if one had sustained an injury at work – cut finger, electric jolt or whatever.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ad Breaks and “Maigret”

Fade to black and up again. “Maigret” was a programme sold abroad, so needed breaks so that adverts could be played in: but many other programmes with a potential for overseas sales included clear ad breaks for commercial playout.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ariel Flying Group

A group photo of the Ariel Flying Group was published in “Propspero”. It may have been taken on an open day sometime in 1973 or 1974. Ariel Flying group started flying at Fairoaks using Condor aircraft and only moved to Denham when GK was bought.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Back to 1975

Daily Duty Sheets and Studio Allocations for the end of August 1975.

– and forward to 1994 …

Lines Booking Sheet for 9th July 1994

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Batteries and Multimeters

What happened to B size batteries?
We have AA, AAA, AAAA, C, D.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

BBC London Premises

The many and varied premises that the BBC used to inhabit in London alone!

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

BBC Recording Tape

Was BBC Recording Tape really only good enough for tying up the roses? Possibly not as bad as Zonal, which seemed to be Sellotape sprayed with rust.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Birtspeak 2.0

Birtspeak is a very long running column in “Private Eye” which carries examples of mad BBC quotations. It originated – not surprisingly – by quoting Mr – sorry, Lord – Birt’s pronouncements. Everyone thought that would go away with the man, but it turns out not to be true, hence Birtspeak 2.0.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

CLUG

A pretty make-up girl was parked in front of the cameras for colour matching the camera. She was referred to as a CLUG.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Colour Vision

The cameras may be matched – see CLUG – but one person has said that she used to see colour differently with each eye. But did it only concern one shade or hue, and what, if any, difference would it have made to her everyday work/circumstances?

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Comments on 2015 and 2016 Programmes

There are anachronisms in many period piece programmes – but more of an issue is the sound pickup in period dramas: this theme is explored in some depth in the sections below on “The Quality of Sound in TV Broadcasting”.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

CSO Oversights

Clever stuff this CSO! In the right hands, of course!

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

CGI Backgrounds and Virtual Newsrooms

Most regional “cubby-hole” studio newsrooms now have a looped CSO/CGI background to give a more controlled environment. Only the newsreaders are real.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dad’s Army – in which studio?

This discussion started as there had been a suggestion that “Dad’s Army” had been telerecorded at Lime Grove.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Don’t ask me, ask Mother

Amazing what can be found tucked away in the back of a drawer …

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dubbin

We see what we think we ought to see, hear what we think we ought to hear – and relate things unknown to things we know. A story from Geoff Fletcher.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Early Days of Home Computing

My first computer was ….

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Early Domestic Tape Recorders

Didn’t we all have Ferrographs? Well, no – don’t tell anyone, but mine was a Ferguson – but then I was on cameras …

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Early Portable Tape Recorders for News

What would have been the small audio (tape) recorder used by News reporters of the 1960s?

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Flashing Lights and Perspex

Spirals of lights flashing in sequence that served no purpose at all.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Forfar 5 – East Fife 4

Talkback: “And it’s Len on the Lip”

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Early days of ENG

Bob Auger remembers where he was fifty years ago…

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Filmed and Directed by …

A cameraperson and someone else. That’s maybe all you need. It’s perfectly possible to combine the various skills and get a good show made, as long as it isn’t a complex show.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For Doctor Who in Memoriam

Tony Hadoke has been preparing his current Doctor Who In Memoriam video and has offered a picture.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Frank Wilkins and Crew 2.

That certainly sounds like a Frank Wilkins story!

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Handy Tandy

You used to be able to pop round the corner to the little specialist shops selling all sorts of electronic bits and pieces. Not quite Akihabara in Tokyo, of course, but this was London in the 1960s and 1970s.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Information Superhighway

Lillehammer flowchart.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

It’s Christmas Time

A miscellany of items with some tenuous connection with Christmas.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Long Live – or possibly not – the BBC TV Theatre

The “Evening Standard” on Tuesday 8 December 2015 reported that the Shepherd’s Bush Empire (formerly the BBC TV Theatre (and before that, the Shepherd’s Bush Empire)) was shut the previous Friday night after a last-minute “formal” health and safety inspection.  “…They checked a problem and it was a lot worse than first thought….”

The 2,000-capacity Grade II-listed hall is now closed for the rest of the year.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lost and/or Forgotten Shows

Specifically:

  • “The Walrus and the Carpenter”
  • “The Siegfried Idyll”

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

More about Jacks

The 3.5mm headphone jack is essentially a 19th Century bit of kit – it is a miniaturised version of the classic quarter-inch jack (6.35mm), which is said to go back as far as 1878.

The thing about standards are that there are so many to choose from.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

More from Wood Norton Hall – and afterwards …

More than fifty years ago (from 2016), group of spotty youths would be assembled at Wood Norton Hall to begin life in the BBC on TO courses. The content and compositions of the courses changes over the years, but the training given then stayed with us for our professional careers – inside or outside broadcasting.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

More Personalities – the Crew – 3

More reminiscences about the people of the various technical crews that we used to work with.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

More Personalities – the Talent – 3

More reminiscences about people who worked in front of the camera (and microphone) and who sadly have died this year (2016).

  • Paul Daniels
  • Cliff Michelmore
  • Victoria Wood

and one who famously worked behind the microphone:

  • Sir George Martin

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Now We’re History – or is it Pretentious Piffle

Is this just pretentious piffle, stylish criticism or what? But this could turn out to be the history (about us) that gets written.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Old TV Sets

Hot valves, extra high tension, whining line output transformers, cathode rays – but forward facing, full sized loudspeakers.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“Our World” – more about this programme

Mike Jordan went to see the display about Our World” in The Science Museum (January 2016).

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Pan’s People

Terribly old fashioned and non pc of course, but we are, aren’t we?

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Quatermass

… and associated sci-fi memories and memorabilia.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Related to History

Peter Cook’s connections to famous innovators, inventors and engineers.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“Shakespeare and Music” – and workplace bullies

Somre people may probably be classified as a bully-in-the-workplace today, but that’s how it was then.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Shot card sample

Geoff Fletcher found a shot card in his BBC box. Very few were ever kept, swept up in the detritus of the derig.

What Geoff said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sprinkle Sprinkle – and a segue to “Grange Hill”

in these conversations, Tech Ops people start talking about one thing – and this lead on to another, and on to another … It is difficult at times to unravel the various strands!

Following on from a post by Bernie Newnham, this segued into storiea about water sprinklers (what, with all that electricity all over the place?) and gently segued into “Grange Hill”.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

STC Microphones

Mystery surrounds an ST&C microphone type number 4131 that Keith Wicks bought from a car boot sale.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Talyllyn Railway OB Summer 1957

A live Outside Broadcast from the pioneering railway restoration project in the world. It deserves a page of its own.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Tea 6d, coffee 9d

Catering … at least BBC premises never had to suffer the “Roach Coach” (aka sandwich van) which toured industrial estates.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The old ways and working practices

it’s not easy to make judgements about any shift pattern without actually working it.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Quality of Sound in TV Broadcasting

As mentioned right at the start of these conversations, one topic more than any other has caught the attention of the Tech Ops people – the quality of sound in current television programmes. There are straightforward technical issues – for example, the sound level for an individual programme is different to the preceding and succeeding one. There are problems with the actors – their diction is poor. There are problems with microphone positioning. And sometimes these all come together to provide a “perfect storm” – or it would be if we could hear it.

The conversations about this have been split into four pages.

BBC Academy, Personal mics, Equalisation and more …
What people said…

Flying Scotsman – no locomotive sound, Merlins, wildtracks and a poem by Geoff Fletcher
What people said…

Mumblegate, mixdown, transmission chain, mutlicamera shoot …
What people said…

And here is the opposite … two gaffes, caught clearly.
How was the sound was so good when obviously no-one was mic’ed up?
Obviously speak the Queen’s English.
What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Soft or Sharp, Quad or Helical – and TOTP – again!

Watching old programmes on modern tellies.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Theme Music

The theme music for some TV programmes include the name of the programme in morse code.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Trains and Filming

The Talyllyn OB had its own page: here are some more stories and pictures of Trains and filming (should that be Trains and Telerecording?)

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

VT Clocks and Film Recording

VT clocks were used to ident VT recordings – but what sort of idents were used for Film Recordings?

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What are all these people doing here?

Union disputes, selling the family silver, Mrs. Thatcher, overmanning …

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What’s ’is name worked as a …

BBC TV was like a wonderful club, says Geoff Fletcher. He has been trawling through his diaries and has listed the number of people he knew by their job titles at the time.

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Wobblyscope

A wonderful name for the juddery hand-held-like camerawork seen nowadays. Ans the unmotivated crabs and cranes on wide angle interview shots. And …

What people said…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

That’s all for this time around .

PointsOfView1

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ianfootersmall

This entry was posted in conversations. Bookmark the permalink.