Friday, March 5, 2010

Untitled Video ("Ampex Quadruplex video tape machine on air"), May 1982

Steve Teague's account says he's 48, so basic math tells that he was about 20 when he shot this video. Maybe he was a student, maybe he was a trainee at the station. He's uploaded a few to YouTube, all of them showing the workings of TV stations in Birmingham, England in the early 1980s.

This one's the simplest and the best. I found it while looking for footage of what a Quadruplex machine actually looked like at work, and he shows not only that but how exactly one operates the machine, the general mood of a regional TV control room at the time, how the machine relates to what is being broadcast and how live footage interacts with pre-recorded segments, as well as fleeting details of the life of the machine's operator (who isn't terribly different from a factory worker), all in a single take and a single framing.

1 comment:

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky said...

[An explanatory note: Quadruplex is a video format that uses 2" tape that seems to resemble oversized typewriter ribbon. It was introduced in the mid-1950s and was the industry standard for decades. Part of what makes all of the Quadruplex demonstration videos on YouTube really fun to watch is that most of the people who own the machines have backgrounds in mid-to-late 20th century TV, and, unlike a lot of similar hobbyists, have really keen senses of framing and what it takes to be concise with information. The little documentaries they post about these machines are all gems. Fun fact learned from one of 'em: to make the ribbon stick to the reel, you have to apply some spit on the end. Always interesting to think of television -- or any other kind of image gathering / distribution -- as a trade or as work instead of as a medium.]