Oh, shit... really?
Well. Damn. I guess that's yet another customer XOrbit loses.
As soon as I found out that Abe Vigoda died, my first thought was "I wonder if Spinn got right on that?"
And he did.
I miss the days of Electro-mechanical devices. I have always enjoyed watching them, seeing how they worked, and thought about all the work that went into designing them.
Before everything was stored digitally on a server, TV commercials were played from videotape. Years ago someone came up with the idea of trying to automate the process. In the following videos there are examples. I had always seen/used Sony's model but the idea is the same. The machine in the video is one of the last models before they moved to digital.
I will try to explain what is going on. At the top center of the video there are the VTRs (Video Tape Players) There were four or five VTRs with one being a backup unit. The machine is finding the video tapes it needs to play, grabbing it, and putting it in a tape player. The system then plays the tape when it needs to. The tape player ejects the tape, the machine grabs it, puts it back in storage and grabs another tape. At the end you see it put tapes to the side and a door spins. This is how new tapes were added and no longer needed tapes were removed.
Before digital this is what was happening during a commercial break. At the end of the video there is some sort of sampled audio, I have no idea what that means. It ruined the coolness of the video.
Here is an example of a much older model, (1970s?) it only loads two tapes at a time. That is a two inch thick video tape was and I like how far it had to unroll in order to play the tape. (Your VHS took the tape out similar way) I have seen the cartridges but not the machine. This video is PURE 70s cheezy style promo video.
If no one else enjoys these videos, Mr. Foobar will.
When I was learning the biz in the early 1990's, small facilities would dream of the day when they could afford "1 inch" tape. In high school we used VHS (or as it was called in the industry, "half inch") but in college and in my internship at AT&T Microelectronics we used U-Matic SP (or "3/4 inch").
It is kind of sad that everything just sits on a motionless computer now.
Yes, I worked at a few stations. I thought we discussed it before after you mentioned you did some TV work. (real men don't pre-view their edits) If you noticed the machine also re-arranged some tapes for quicker accesses later. It was designed well enough to put tapes close to machines that would be open at a later time. Advanced planning.
The system I first saw was called the Sony BetaCart, holding about 40 five/ten minute betaSP tapes. http://www.montagar.com/~patj/betacart.htm Same basic idea, tape storage, tape transport and side loading VTPs Came with the operators keyboard computer and a "cool" bar code label maker for the machine to read the bar coes on the tapes. It play back system went down once.... when it did, all hands on deck and a lot of shouting during a commercial break. I also saw the all digital system freeze once as well. (1998/99)
I worked on a digital Odetics system that could fire off tape decks. It was in a master control of the cable company I worked for. I wasn't impressed with this.
I saw another video, one of the first non-linear editors, from 1971! I didn't think that technology was that old. This was different though, it stored low quality audio and B&W video on the refrigerator size hard drives. The editor edited with a light pen, there was an edit list but no time line. Two monitors, a preview and program monitor. When the final product was ready the machine took the edit points stored on the non-linear editor, and that played the original tapes from VTRs, and switched all the video sources. It wasn't pure digital like we know today.
I used an AVID in 1996/97, I was told it cost $80,000. I remember the apple fanatic trainer was very excited that macs only had ONE button on their mice. He was very excited about this and repeated how macs only had ONE how simple is that. Not like those confusing two and three button mice on PCs. It had 36 gigs of storage. Four nine gig RAID drives. Didn't take too long to fill nine gigs in those days. The hard drives were so slow they needed to break the info onto three drives and the audio was stored on the forth drive.
I remember telling someone that these non-linear video editors will drop down to $250 some day. This person laughed at me. You can get them cheaper or free on Linux. Of course you no longer need tape decks, and related hardware.
Interesting stuff, thanks for sharing.
There is much magic lost today, recently I showd my 6,5 year old son a video of Boston Dynamics roboter walking through the forrest, etc. He was like Gru's mom on Despicable Me: "Meh!"
I am probably a little younger than you folks are, but growing up in the 80s and 90s gave you a feel for how hard motor control can be. Today, everything is computercontrolled, digital and smooth as silk. We had to fix music tapes. Video tapes would degenerate, all the motors wore out, you had to replace rubbers, etc. Today, you only have to worry wether the battery is charged. Kind of boring.
When I was a Mini-IG, I was absolutely fascinated when I went to a diner that had the little mini jukebox controllers on each table. When you put your quarters in, the speaker came on and you got to hear every selection that was in the queue until your selection(s) played. I of course was more interested in the infrastructure required to put such a marvel of engineering into a public place. The cables were gigantic. The central controller, if you were lucky enough to get a glimpse of it, was a massive array of relays.
It was probably a complete waste of money for those few establishments that upgraded to CD jukeboxes. Sure, they could now offer a bigger selection because of 10 tracks per disc instead of 2, but now those are obsolete too.
A few more "massive cable" funfests:
My great-aunt was a lot like Aahz: she lived close to where she worked. She operated a business (a funeral home) on the main level of a fairly large house, and her living quarters were on the upper level. Some time in the late 1960's, she had a 1A2 Key Telephone System installed, so she could access both her home and business lines from three different locations in the house.
50 conductor cables to each phone, and a massive relay system in the basement.
I loved that.
And of course when I was in high school and college we still needed massive cables to connect each television camera back to its CCU. Everything analog and broken out onto its own pins. I don't know what they use today ... do they even *have* CCU's anymore?
I am sure Camera Control Units are still used. Even though the NTSC (Never The Same Color) has been updated no two pieces of equipment is ever the same. I bet the cameras still have to be tweaked. I will ask a few friends, but like many of us, we have gotten out of the field.
I texted a buddy of mine, he suffers from CRS. (Can't Remember Shit) He said his last few years at the TV station he worked IT and not production but he thought they still white balanced cameras. He has bad memories of the TV station and is trying to forget as much as possible.
We also discussed the thickness of the camera cable. There is a lot to a camera cable. It used to have a lot more signals and I am sure digital has simplified all of that. The camera's view finder could have several video sources. The camera's lens which wouldn't need a cable, at least one video feed back from the control room. Usually a program feed, we would send the video from one of the mixers on the switcher so the camera person could line up the box over the anchor's shoulder. The camera cable needs to handle video for the teleprompter and any communications between the camera op and the control room. I think the cable is probably still thick but not as think as it once was.
For the Americans here, a little insider not so secret secret. While watching the Today show Willard Scott, Al Roker always says, "And here is what is going on in your neck of the woods." That wasn't just a catch phrase. Back in the days when things were run from video tape, and the video tape had to get up to speed, that was an IMPORTANT cue for the local station to roll the locally inserted 30 second weather break. "and here is what is going..." (roll tape) " on in your neck of the woods." Switch from network to local and take video tape. That phrase was network telling the locals to roll their tape without saying "roll that beautiful bean footage."
That's really interesting, thanks for sharing it. It's funny how they had to do these kinds of things when everything was "inband"
By now you've heard that Florence Henderson has died.
What you might not know is that Robert Reed and Ann B. Davis are already dead, so if anyone was playing Tic-Tac-Toe on the Brady Bunch title card, whoever was Player "Dead" just won.
Oh... that's a great form of tastelessness that I shall savor for a few minutes.
OMG. This is the greatest interview ever.
You might have heard of the group "Demand Protest" which is purportedly paying $2,500/month retainer plus $50/hour to political protesters. Tucker Carlson interviews the head of this group.
Trust me, you will love this interview even if you hate politics. It doesn't really go into politics. It is epic.
Why would I ever to that?
As a side note, you can embed videos now?
And here's your bizarre factoid of the day:
You know those "The Best Of..." albums that are released when an artist has been around for a while?
It turns out the guy who invented the phrase "The VERY Best Of..." for album titles, was actually the uncle of MST3K writer Michael J. Nelson.
Kind of funny :)