Electronicam - The bifocal camera system developed by James L. Caddigan in association with Dumont Laboratories in 1955. The Electronicam
provided higher quality film and lower production costs and virtually rendered
"Kinescopes" obsolete. In essence, it combined simultaneous live TV with a
filming process. CAPTAIN VIDEO was filmed with the Electronicam process as a
test, however the first great triumph of this system came with the filming of
the classic 39 episodes of THE HONEYMOONERS/CBS/1955-56. Previously only the
cameraman could see the action that occurred on screen, now the editors,
directors, make-up and lighting personnel could simultaneously watch the filmed
action from separate monitors both during rehearsal and the actual filming.
Gizmo - The name of the video switcher designed by engineer George Gould
while working on the early sci-fi series TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET in 1951.
Developed with the assistance of ABC engineers Ralph Drucker and David Fee, the
Gizmo enabled Gould to superimpose the images of actors from one set to another
via electronic camera without the images washing out. As a result of this new
innovated process, production costs were brought down and scenes such as space
cadets walking under water with fish swimming by were now possible. Cost of
developing the device was a mere $100.00.
Golden Age, The - Term commonly used to describe the television programs
(many broadcast live) produced from approximately 1947 through the mid-fifties.
One of the first broadcasts of this kind was KRAFT TV THEATRE which premiered
May 7, 1947 with studio dramas performed in the tradition of live theater. (teen
idol, James Dean made 25 television appearances in these live dramas in the
1950s). The KRAFT TV THEATRE spawned other imitators such as ACTOR'S STUDIO,
ALCOA THEATRE, ARMSTRONG CIRCLE THEATRE, BRECK GOLDEN SHOWCASE, KAISER ALUMINUM
HOUR, DESILU PLAYHOUSE, GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATRE, HALLMARK HALL OF FAME, LUX
VIDEO THEATRE, MATINEE THEATRE, MOTOROLA TV HOUR, OMNIBUS, REVLON THEATRE and
THE US STEEL HOUR. Many of these programs are no longer in existence because
they were produced before the days of video tape. However, their sound and light
waves still exist in the vastness of outer space, hopefully entertaining
extraterrestrials everywhere. See also "Kinescope"
Hays Code See "The Motion Picture Production Code"
HDTV - The shortened version of "High Definition Television" one of the
coming standards in the future of television technology. Presently, America's TV
picture tube is made up of 525 horizontal lines, but the HDTV consists of 1125
horizontal lines thus producing a higher definition picture with the sharpness
of a 35 mm movie. The system however is not compatible with the some 200 million
existing US television sets. This may be remedied by the utilization of the HRTV
"High Resolution TV" a system with 1050 lines in development. Currently the HDTV
system runs from $1,800 to $4000.
Iconoscope - This device is the "eye" of the TV camera. Television
pioneer Vladimir K. Zworykin invented an early model of the iconoscope which
made good picture transmission possible. Zworykin was also responsible for the
first electronic camera and perfecting the Kinescope. He is considered the
Father of Television.
Infomercials - Generally a half-hour program whose sole purpose is to
sell a product. The infomercial started in 1984 after the Federal Trade
Commission lifted restrictions on how much time a local TV station could sell.
Since that time TV has been inundated with thousands of hours of lengthy
testimonials and product pitches for such items as Richard Simmons' Deal-A-Meal;
Kitchenmate Mixer, The Psychic Network, Carleton Sheets Real Estate Success
Seminars, Tony Robbins' Personnel Power Videotapes, the GripMaster tool, and
dozens of exercise equipment commercials such as the Flip Trak Tread Mill, the
Nautilus Adjustable Slant Board and Bench, the Health Rider, the Power Rider and
the Health Walker. Forerunners to these lengthy TV spots were Ronco products
like the Veg-O-Matic ("it slices, it dices...") and the Pocket Fisherman
marketed in the fifties and sixties. See also "Promercials"
JICTAR - Acronym for Joint Industry Committee For Television Research.
JICTAR is the British equivalent of the American rating services A.C. Nielsen &
Arbitron who record television viewing patterns which determine fees charged for
commercial air time. The organization is supported by major British advertisers.
Kinescope - Before the advent of video-tape recording storage techniques,
all television programming was shot live (not filmed but telecast directly
around the country). Because of this technology, much of what was performed on
the Golden Age of television in the 1950s was lost forever. However, there were
shows stored via the Kinescope method. This was the process whereby a movie
camera loaded with film recorded the images directly off a TV monitor. This
produced a very poor copy of what was broadcast but considering the alternative
it was quite good.
Laugh Track See "The Mackenzie"
Little Annie See "Stanton-Lazarfeld Program Analyzer"
Little Black Box, The See "Audimeter"
Live Television - In the early days of television all broadcasts were
done "live" which meant the program signal was shot/transmitted during the
actual performance to the home viewer's set, one take only, no chance for
mistakes. The lack of recording technology prevented any of these shows from
being stored except by filming the TV monitor with a film camera. These were
known as "Kinescopes." With the advent of videotape in the late 1950s, the
"live" television empire set up in New York City began to grind to a halt.
Economics dictated that television had to go on film for the sake of ease of
distribution and rerun efficiency. Eventually New York could not compete with
Hollywood and soon "live" television slowly faded. Currently, with the
exceptions of live broadcasts from major sporting events, local news broadcasts
and a few prime time programs as NBC's SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and ABC's NIGHTLINE
with Ted Koppel, the majority of today's programming is produced on videotape
and aired at a later time. See also "Television"
MacGuffin, The - An object or secret used only as a devise or pretext for
a suspense plot. The term originated with filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. The
MacGuffin could be anything (microfilm, military plans, etc.) It didn't matter
what the MacGuffin was just as long it helped develop and carry along the plot.
The MacGuffin in Hitchcock's quintessential comedy-thriller North By Northwest
(1959) starring Cary Grant was a set of government secrets praised by Hitchcock
as being "the most impertinent, the most nonexistent, and the most absurd" of
all his MacGuffin inventions.
Mackenzie, The - The nickname of the canned laughter machine used in the
television industry to "sweeten" (adding sound effects such as laughter) to a
program track. Jackie Gleason explained his opposition to the laugh track by
saying "I'd hate to do something on our show (THE HONEYMOONERS) that was a laugh
on someone else's." An early example of a mechanical laugh track, known as "The
Laff Box" was created in the mid-fifties by CBS employees, Charley and Bob
Networks - Currently defined as any service airing at least 15 hours of
programming a week and in at least 75 percent of TV households. The following is
a short survey of networks in the USA.
- CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) was
begun in 1927 as United Independent Broadcasting, a radio network. One year
later, William S. Paley bought control of the network for $400,000 and renamed
the network the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). Both CBS & NBC were granted
commercial licenses for their New York stations on July 1, 1941 with NBC on
channel one: WNBT (now WNBT-TV) and CBS on channel four: WCBW-TV (now WCBS-TV).
- NBC who had opened experimental TV station W2XBS in New York in 1930,
inaugurated its first regular TV service on April 30, 1939. This was the
official opening of the World's Fair in New York.
- The FCC granted the DuMont
network its first television station license W2XWV in New York on April 13,
1940. Dumont was administered from New York's flagship station WABD (now WNEW-TV).
Founder of the system was Dr. Allen B. Dumont who developed and manufactured the
first all electronic TV set at his New Jersey Laboratory. Dumont marketed 14"
home TV sets as early as 1938.
- A 1941 FCC ruling required RCA to divest itself
of one of its two networks; NBC Blue ("The Blue Network") was sold in 1943 to
Edward Noble for $8 million, and becomes ABC in 1945. Due to increasing
competition from NBC, CBS and ABC, the DuMont network failed in 1955.
- The ABC
network started its own New York station in August of 1948. Previously ABC had
used the facilities of the DuMont network to produce such programming as PLAY
THE GAME/DUM/1946 acclaimed as ABC's first program.
- The Public Broadcasting
System (PBS) was founded in 1968 by an act of congress (Public Television Act of
1967) to support non-commercial TV & radio programs. The programming would be
free of Federal interference and help foster regional diversity.
- In the fall of
1986 the FOX Network (the first fourth network since the demise of DuMont
network) began broadcasting via their syndicated affiliates nationwide. Their
first program was THE JOAN RIVERS SHOW, a late night talk show which aired live
from Hollywood at 11:00 P.M.. till midnight. On April 5, 1987, FOX kicked off a
series of first run comedy, variety. and dramas including: MARRIED...WITH
CHILDREN, THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW, 21 JUMP STREET, DUET, MR. PRESIDENT, KAREN'S
SONG, DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BEANS BAXTER and
WEREWOLF. The Fox Broadcasting Company (FOX) was founded by maverick,
Australian-born businessman, Rupert Murdoch. Some 80 to 110 affiliates have
joined forces to form the new network. He later purchased the bible of weekly TV
viewing TV Guide magazine.
- In 1990, new networks were introduced including the
SCI-FI Channel, Comedy Central Network, the UPN Network and the WB (Warner
Oaters - Slang term used to describe the cowboy western, especially
low-budget westerns that once filled television screens in the late 1950s and
early 1960s. Its origins probably refer to the many horses that appeared on the
shows and the fact that they ate "oats." In the year 1959, the prime time
schedule included an incredible 29 western programs. That's an average of 4.1
shoot-em-ups a night, not including the police and detective series. Westerns
are also referred to as "Horse Operas."
People Meter See "A.C. Nielsen Ratings Service"
Plugola - The placing of a product on-camera without the permission of
the TV station or network. In the 1950s, writers and directors took money behind
the backs of TV production company for agreeing to place or "plug" a product on
the air. Alan Freed, Cleveland's WJM radio station deejay who coined the phrase
"rock and roll," was accused of a similar practice called "payola" in 1959 for
accepting money for pay-for-play practices that got a record played on the radio
if some money changed hands.
Prequels - Describes a story whose plotline is set before the original
story. An example of a prequel is the motion picture Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With
Me (1992). Produced after the original series upon which it was based (TWIN
PEAKS/ABC/1990-91), the film focused on the last weeks in the life of Laura
Palmer before she was killed. The original storyline of the TWIN PEAKS series
began with clairvoyant FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) called into to
discover "Who killed Laura Palmer?", a seemingly innocent high school student
who was actually turning tricks at a seedy Canadian border bar and brothel.
Another example was the prequel frontier adventure YOUNG DAN'L BOONE/CBS/1977
starring Rick Moses as frontiersman in his mid-twenties. This series was
produced after the frontier adventure DANIEL BOONE/NBC/1964-70 when actor Fess
Parker (who also played Disney's Davy Crockett) starred as Indian fighter Daniel
Prime Time - Term first used in 1959 to define the television viewing
time and programs broadcast between the evening hours of 7:00 to 11:00 P.M.
Currently prime time is considered between the hours of 8:00 to 11:00 P.M., six
nights a week. On Sunday, however, prime time starts an hour earlier at 7:00
P.M. but that first hour can only be used for news programs or family shows or
family oriented situation comedy/dramas. According to the A.C. Nielsen Company,
the most popular half-hour of prime time TV viewing is the 8:30 to 9:00 P.M.
period, attracting 104.5 million viewers during an average minute. The most
popular evening for TV viewing is Sunday night, pulling 103.8 million people
during the average minute. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered
the major networks in the fall of 1971 to cut back their evening programming
from 7:30 to 8:00 P.M.. This was supposed to encourage local programming and
original shows, not reruns. However, over the years because of economics, the
high cost of independent productions and initial high investment needed, nothing
but inexpensive game show, wild life series and miscellaneous reruns filled the
Program Guides See
BOOKS - "TV Guide Magazine"
Promercials - The act of inserting a commerial message within a TV program as part of the show's dialogue. For instance, a TV character may be rding in a car with a friend and the friend begins a discussion about the car ("What a nice car....") . This little commentary integrates the brand or product into the plot. It's a variation on brand placement when the camera might show a closeup of a product during a scene. Let's say a character is eating cereal in the kitchen and the camera makes sure the front of the box is promintenly displayed in the shot. The goal or the "Promercials" (a mash-up of “promotion” and “commercial”) is to replace commercials with something that viewers will not zip through or zap when they view recorded TV shows. The practice of using promericals began to appear regularly in 2010.
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