filmed inserts before WWII?

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Spiny Norman
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filmed inserts before WWII?

Post by Spiny Norman »

Earlier today I was looking at a 1938 BBC script. Apart from the surprise that it existed still, I was also susprised to see "telecine" there a few times.
Were filmed inserts already in use before WWII then? I had no idea!
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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

Post by brigham »

Filmed inserts were televised from the earliest days. J L Baird suggested that 'Tele-Talkies' could be introduced for public broadcasting while 'real' television was still being perfected..

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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

Post by Spiny Norman »

Are there no prewar filmed inserts surviving by any amazing chance?
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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

Post by Mark »

Don't think so.
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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

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Mark wrote:Don't think so.
No, it's quite unlikely. But after seeing that extensive camera script in very good condition, well, you briefly hope.
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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

Post by Mark »

Out of interest, what was the script?
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Mark wrote:Out of interest, what was the script?
It was a one hour version of Pride and prejudice from 1938, complete with set & camera plan, props list, summary, announcement, etcetera. The writing was good too - by which I mean that Michael Barry had found an ingenious way to skip dozens of events from the novel and still make it all work.

Very different from what I had expected - I'd thought perhaps it would have been "highlights", favourite moments from the book stitched together with narration. Like the earliest silent films.

In fact, if the BBC ever wants to adapt the novel again, they should do the unexpected, and film this script again.
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Post by Mark »

Very interesting.

There are a couple of photos here.

"Pride And Prejudice"

I remember really enjoying the 1980 version, but you never hear of that one!
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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

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Mark wrote:Very interesting.

There are a couple of photos here.

"Pride And Prejudice"

I remember really enjoying the 1980 version, but you never hear of that one!
Oh, the 1967 version wasn't bad either. It was in 6 half hours, so it had a nice brisk pace.

I think the 1995 scores partly because of its visual splendour, shot entirely on film, where 1980 only had some inserts. The later success of Downton "flimsiest storylines ever" abbey seems in hindsight to prove this (that it's often the eyes, and not the brains, that are watching).

But anyway, I was really impressed by the 1938's ability to fit the story in one hour with only limited losses. I've seen an American attempt to do the same that worked out very badly.
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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

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"...Sadly, as television was in its infancy and film was eye-wateringly expensive the production has not survived in the archives..."
I'm confused now. Was it transmitted live, and NOT filmed, or was it an all-film production, in which case this comment makes no sense?

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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

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brigham wrote:"...Sadly, as television was in its infancy and film was eye-wateringly expensive the production has not survived in the archives..."
I'm confused now. Was it transmitted live, and NOT filmed, or was it an all-film production, in which case this comment makes no sense?
The picture of the studio clearly shows electronic (EMItron?) cameras so not all film and film telerecording hadn't started then as far as I know so I'm confused as well.

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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

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Brian F wrote:
brigham wrote:"...Sadly, as television was in its infancy and film was eye-wateringly expensive the production has not survived in the archives..."
I'm confused now. Was it transmitted live, and NOT filmed, or was it an all-film production, in which case this comment makes no sense?
The picture of the studio clearly shows electronic (EMItron?) cameras so not all film and film telerecording hadn't started then as far as I know so I'm confused as well.
It's more or less correct - the only option (apart from baird discs) to keep a program was on film.

OK, so telerecording hadn't started yet so even that wasn't a real option. But at least film existed, unlike magnetic video tape.

But it's closer than all those articles out there that always talk about tapes being found.
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Yes, the play was performed live with filmed inserts ( any details of them, Spiny?) it went out on 22/5/38 and performed live all over again 5 days later.!
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Mark wrote:Yes, the play was performed live with filmed inserts ( any details of them, Spiny?) it went out on 22/5/38 and performed live all over again 5 days later.!
Two filmed inserts, I think. Bare minimum, but to my half-trained mind, it sounds more or less the same as how things were done in the 1950s.
It probably allows for some scene and/or costume changes.

Shooting a program entirely on film would be on a totally different path. Probably a lot more costly, and more like the film industry instead of like the theatre, which it probably most resembled of anything.

Filmed inserts must indeed have been expensive, and wouldn't there be some quality loss, especially in the early years? Although, that makes me wonder when movies were first shown on television.
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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

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Mark wrote:Films
Thanks - I knew I had heard or seen something about this before!

Quality is a big unknown, I see, judging from the comments.
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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

Post by Mark »

Two filmed inserts would no doubt have been expensive but likely all that would be needed for the play's duration, the logistics for' 'live' and later ' Recorded as Live' productions are always fascinating to see.

The distinction between the 'Live' picture and the inserts would have been very noticeable I would have thought.
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Mark wrote:Two filmed inserts would no doubt have been expensive but likely all that would be needed for the play's duration, the logistics for' 'live' and later ' Recorded as Live' productions are always fascinating to see.

The distinction between the 'Live' picture and the inserts would have been very noticeable I would have thought.
I've read complaints in the papers (ca. 1960) about the drop in quality, but not from the UK.
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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

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Spiny Norman wrote:Although, that makes me wonder when movies were first shown on television.
Depends what you mean by 'movies'.

'Television Comes to London' (1936), shot by the BBC ran frequently as a demonstration film before WWII.
it contains shots of Baird's 240 line mechanical scanner (at, I beleive, Baird Television Development Ltd.'s installation at Crystal Palace)

EMI had CRT based 35mm twin lens scanners at Alexandra Palace, Baird developed similar as the basis or the Cinema Television project, jointly with Gaumont British.

AP also had camera channel telecines, based on the Mechau mirror screw projector,
I guess Mickey Mouse September 1939 ran on the EMI whilst Pride & Prejudice inserts may well have been the Mechau.

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TK-JaKe wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Although, that makes me wonder when movies were first shown on television.
Depends what you mean by 'movies'.

'Television Comes to London' (1936), shot by the BBC ran frequently as a demonstration film before WWII.
it contains shots of Baird's 240 line mechanical scanner (at, I beleive, Baird Television Development Ltd.'s installation at Crystal Palace)

EMI had CRT based 35mm twin lens scanners at Alexandra Palace, Baird developed similar as the basis or the Cinema Television project, jointly with Gaumont British.

AP also had camera channel telecines, based on the Mechau mirror screw projector,
I guess Mickey Mouse September 1939 ran on the EMI whilst Pride & Prejudice inserts may well have been the Mechau.
I meant theatrical movies, where it would really attract comment if the quality was too low.

Those filmed inserts must have been kept at least for a short time, in case there was another repeat.
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I'm not sure about that, it was likely to be contracted for two performances only, and that was it.
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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

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Mark wrote:I'm not sure about that, it was likely to be contracted for two performances only, and that was it.
Oh, was that equity agreement (right?) already in place before the war?
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I'm assuming there was something in place, so if they knew that was it...

Any idea of the content of the inserts?
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Mark wrote:I'm assuming there was something in place, so if they knew that was it...

Any idea of the content of the inserts?
Mostly exteriors, rather than time-buying for set/costume changes. All seemed very very short. (So even IF they had survived, it would barely give any glimpse.)

Let's see, one at the start was a village; then very soon Mr. Bennet paying the visit on his neighbour that he had told his wife he would not make. (A new scene that's in no other version and that temporarily puts the viewer ahead of the other characters.) A similar thing happens with Darcy later on: For some reason, them ringing the doorbell is shown from the exterior. Even though that seems to me something that can be skipped and worked around.

Then there was a bit with Mrs. Bennet listening at the keyhole to Mr. Collins and his silly proposal. And later, Darcy finishing his explanatory letter.

But to be honest there was a lot of talk of "preview (sometimes with a number)" there in the left column of the camera script, and I'm not sure what it means.
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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

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Spiny Norman wrote:......

But to be honest there was a lot of talk of "preview (sometimes with a number)" there in the left column of the camera script, and I'm not sure what it means.
This may be fanciful speculation, but

if you go back to 'Television Comes to London' (1936) there is a suggestion that the vision mixer / director has only two faders to control vision output,
all sources Cam1 Cam2 Cam3 TK would be synchronous at this mixing point, there were almost certainly no synchronous switches that 'cut' during field blanking in the earliest days.

I have read, but couldn't tell you where, that the pre-selection of the source to the a-fader and the b-fader was the role of the 'engineer', not the vision mixer / director
thus if its reads "preview 2" it would mean Cam2 should be selected to the off-air fader. Much the same as, in later years, the P.A. calling 'On 1, 2 next'!

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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

Post by brigham »

There will most likely have been more than two channels at the desk by 1938. Dramatic Mixing Desks for radio had about 14 by this time.

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Post by Mark »

TK's explanation for 'preview' sounds a good bet.
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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

Post by TK-JaKe »

brigham wrote:There will most likely have been more than two channels at the desk by 1938. Dramatic Mixing Desks for radio had about 14 by this time.
I'm not saying that there were only two sources, or channels,

I am saying it was possible there was in 1938 the same restriction as in 1936, the EMI prototype, only one synchronous mixing point;
audio mixers don't have this requirement - pre-selection of vision source to a two channel synchronous mixer was the answer.

There is somewhere a telerecording, it may even be the 1953 coronation, that had no cuts at all, it was all rapid dissolves,
this suggest to me that synchronous cutting - in field blanking - was still to be universal.

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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

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It must defnitely be something in that direction. They had two sets with two cameras each, so cameras 1-4. That "preview (number)" always appears just before a "mix" (dissolve) to that same camera. They were dissolving and fading a lot. So it must have meant "prepare for dissolve to ...".
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Re: filmed inserts before WWII?

Post by Mark »

Here's the explanation for Preview, and a fascinating look at various productions including "Clive Of India".

Pre-War TV
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