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60's and 70's TV film stocks


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#1 Alessandro Malfatti

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 10:06 AM

So, I was watching Monty Python's Flying Circus the other day and I just couldn't help it but wonder what sort of film it was that was used for TV shows and news in the 1960's and 70's. Was it negative, reversal, VNF, whatever.
If anyone would care to share his knowledge about this I'd be quite thankful.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 11:26 AM

So, I was watching Monty Python's Flying Circus the other day and I just couldn't help it but wonder what sort of film it was that was used for TV shows and news in the 1960's and 70's. Was it negative, reversal, VNF, whatever.
If anyone would care to share his knowledge about this I'd be quite thankful.


American TV shows used 35mm negative stocks -- Kodak color negative once color photography became common for TV shows -- just like the features of the day. 5250 (50 ASA tungsten) came out in 1959, followed by 5251 (50 ASA tungsten with less grain) in 1962, followed by 5254 (100 ASA tungsten) in 1968.

16mm color reversal was common for 16mm color work because dust is an issue in 16mm and with reversal, dust is black, not white, which was considered less distracting. However, European labs got a handle on the dust problem and 16mm color negative became a lot more popular for docs and TV work there by the 1970's compared to the USA, where 16mm color reversal was generally the rule.

But I'm not sure when Europe started favoring 16mm color negative over reversal -- my guess is soon after 5254 (or in this case 7254) came out in 1968 because the 100 ASA speed was too darn tempting. In the USA, a low-contrast 16mm Ektachrome stock called ECO was more popular because the lower contrast made it more suitable for TV work and for making prints and blow-ups -- however, ECO was only 25 ASA. ECO (7252) came out in 1970. ECO was used for well-lit industrials, interviews, exterior work, etc.

In 1966, the Ektachrome EF stocks came out, replaced partially by the Ektachrome VNF line in 1975. The EF stocks were popular for docs and whatnot when they needed more speed than the ECO stock could provide.

So in terms of "Monty Python and the Flying Circus" (1969 and on), the BBC back then was using video for studio work and more mobile 16mm for location work, but I don't know which 16mm stocks were used at the time, 7254 100 ASA color neg or Ektachrome EF stocks. There is a skit on the show that actually calls attention to this video-film split where some members in a boardroom set, shot on video, look outside the window and door and realize that everytime the camera cuts to them (shot on location) standing in the window and doorway, the shot was done on film, but when they turn around to the camera on the soundstage set, they are shot on video. "Gentlemen, it seems we are completely surrounded by FILM!"

See Kodak's chronology of film stocks:
http://motion.kodak....ilm/chrono3.htm
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#3 John Holland

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 12:17 PM

Hi at that time , its would have been colour neg , so 7254 , may have been 51 to start ! Reversal stocks were used for News , quick process , and straight to T/C
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#4 Alessandro Malfatti

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Posted 04 November 2009 - 12:46 PM

Thanks for the explanation. Also what about sound, I guess News and the like used magnetic sound, did TV shows use optical sound?
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#5 John Holland

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Posted 04 November 2009 - 01:01 PM

News used mag stripe sound !! Drama /Comedy , a Nagra 1/4 inch sep mag , sound dumped onto the video .
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