ABC TV at Gore Hill in the Fifties

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All contributions to be addressed to the Editor, "Radio-Active",
Box 487, G.P.O.,
Volume 10 – No.2     Literary contributions are invited     March 15, 1956


We publish here the remaining sections of the ABC’s official Jargon List.

Section E: Studio Team

This is only a glossary of commonly used names and titles. It is not to be implied yhat all officers indicated will necessarily appear in any one production.

Producer In charge; calls shots
Production Assistant Timer. Cues, etc. (sometimes called Script Assistant)
Floor Manager In charge of floor
Switcher Controls and mixes video circuits
Floor Assistant Dollies big cameras. Clears cable or assists with visuals
Rigger Erects sets, etc.
C.C.U. Operator Operates camera control unit and controls pictures from camera
Audio Control Operator Controls all microphones, plays simple FX records
Effects Operator In studio or control booth
Boom Operator Operates Audio Boom
Telecine Operator Operates film, slides, etc.
Talent Any person in live show
Cast In dramatic show
Prompter May be Floor Manager or Floor Assistant
Technical producer In charge of technical staff and operations and studio equipment
Lighting Engineer In charge of design and provision of lighting – responsible to Producer and Technical Producer
Lighting Assistant Sets up and operates lighting
Designer With producer designs settings, costumes, etc. for production: in charge of riggers
Wardrobe For on the spot requirements
Make-up For on the spot requirements




Section F: Film

A Telerecording or

A Kinescope

A film of a TV programme recorded on film electronically (as distinct from optically)
Telecine Play back of a programme on film
Telerecording The operation of Recording a TV programme on film
Double system Sound and vision recorded on separate films
Single system Sound and vision together on one film
Separate film Sound and vision on separate films as in double system
Married film Sound and vision from separate film joined in single system
Film (or optical film) A film other than a telerecording
In synch Sound and action synchronised
Out of synch Sound and action not synchronised
Insert A bit of film inserted into a programme
Leader A lead-in of special frames on the film strip to cue the film
"Roll film" Start the film going



Section G: O.B.

O.B. Outside Broadcast Any broadcast away from the studio; can cover any topic, indoors or out
O.B. Unit Mobile control room, plus ancillary vehicles
Dish The reflector of a microwave link
R.E. Roving Eye A camera mounted on a moving vehicle



Section H: Script

Full script A script in which every word spoken is written – as a play
Skeleton script A script in which the shape of a programme is indicated, and talent speaks ad lib. To plan



Section J: Miscellaneous

Continuity The linking of programmes, generally from announcer’s booth
Presentation The broadcasting of continuity, fill-ins, spot announcements, station identifications, etc.
Break-down Analysis of finished show
Simulcast Simultaneous broadcast on sound radio and television
Output The picture that is being transmitted over the air





High key lighting Lighting which results in a picture grading from grey to TV white
Low key lighting Lighting which results in a picture grading from TV black to grey


Camera Operations

Ease Very slow camera movement
Lose Reverse of "super"
Open Switch in nominated microphone or sound source
Hit Suddenly bring in sound
Cut Suddenly cut out sound

RADIO-ACTIVE, February 15, 1956 – Page 12 and 13



By "One of Them"

It wasn’t long after the first Television Training school finished thar some of us had the idea of getting together with the existing TV Study Group which had been running for some time. A meeting was called, and we decided to prepare various demonstrations for the benefit (??) and entertainment (???) of the members of the Second TV Course. Skeleton teams were selected for each of the proposed programmes. Unfortunately, some of those concerned were scheduled for leave, and others were unavailable for various reasons; so that the number on call to carry out the exercises was not as big as we had hoped. The time factor, too, became a problem – even a minute of TV seems to need hours of preparation. Then the Christmas and New Year holiday period intervened. All in all, it looked as though some of the programmes were going to be too rushed and, as a result, not of the quality which we had envisaged.

On the technical side, co-operating whole-heartedly, were Bob Forster (control unit), Leo Fowler (camera) and John Appleton (camera), ably led by Dave Tapp.

It is a point to be noted that although the exercises which had been carried out at the first School had been done with only one camera, without exception each team used two cameras for these demonstrations.

The secret of successful television is team work – as all of us certainly realised at the end of the demonstrations. Even the most unambitious show is dependant upon this factor.

Just how effective the demonstrations were is something we cannot say. No doubt the members of the School would have been in a better position to access the programmes if they had been shown later in the course. But the objective was to give an introduction to TV and to provide discussion points – and this was achieved. The rehearsals went very well, and, what is more to the point, the actual programmes appeared on time and ran to time.

Now for some details. Sid Mounsey, Tony Evans, Peter Macgregor and Paul Maclay organised a news bulletin, which was directed by Mungo MacCallum. This showed various ways in which news can be presented visually – ranging from film to animated maps. Jill Lyons and Peter Page assisted on the floor. The programme went off very well, despite the humid conditions under which everybody was working. Peter Macgregor very nearly fried.

The news show was followed by "Nicky and Noodle" a Puppet Show for children. This was the story of a little boy and his dog, and was expertly handled by a professional team – John Hetherington and Miss A. Macarthur Onslow. It was directed by Kay Kinane, with Peter Page as floor manager, and was a great success.

Kay Kinane and Mungo MacCallum arranged an instructional programme, which was a demonstration, by an expert of physical training for women.

After lunch there was plenty of action. Bob Davidson directed a demonstration programme on boxing. Bob, as some will know, has been a boxing instructor for a considerable time, and felt completely at home with his programme. The show was most popular. Brian McClenaughan was compere and the boxers were the Australian Fly Weight champion, Frankie Bennett and a notable Featherweight boxer, Lennie Burns. (At the Saturday rehearsal they had been a little too realistic and Bob had to get them to take a bit of a sting out of their work for the actual demonstration).

The Women’s Session followed. The subject was modern art, and the programme title "This Week’s Talking Point." Mollie Shackleton interviewed James Gleeson on the subject of several modern paintings which were on view. This show was directed by Kay Kinane and floor managed by Peter Page. The School inspected the paintings on the floor of the studio afterwards, and there were discussions which came up best in greys on the TV screen.

Then came an unrehearsed Rural item – "The Myxo Story". It was an experiment to see how far an expert (who in this case was Mr. G. Edgar, B.V.Sc., Director of Veterinary Research at the Glenfield Veterinary Research Station) could carry a programme ad lib. Using slides, maps and a rabbit )a live rabbit which had myxomatosis, but which unfortunately did not show the disease properly – even though it had been specially infected 10 days earlier).

The last programme was "Dreams". This was an attempt to illustrate how various TV techniques can be used in one programme: dramatisation, interview, ad lib. Visuals and monologue. It was directed by Mungo MacCullum, assisted by Paul Maclay, floor managed by Dick Healy and compered by Peter Shrubb. Briefly, the subject of dreams was introduced, and there followed a domestic scene with Anne Bullen and Gordon Glenwright, two Sydney radio players – after which Anne Bullen’s "dream" arising out of incident was shown in reversed polarity. The "dream" was then analysed. The well-known psychiatrist, Dr. McGeorge, then explained Freud’s theory of dreams; and, by way of illustration, a dream was related by a "patient" (played by Jennifer Wykeham) and analysed (up to a point) by Dr. McGeorge.

RADIO-ACTIVE, February 15, 1956 – Page 16


All contributions to be addressed to the Editor, "Radio-Active",
Box 487, G.P.O.,
Volume 10 – No.2     Literary contributions are invited     March 15, 1956



On Friday, February 24, in Sydney’s TV studio, the Postmaster-General (the Hon. C.W. Davidson), and the Chairman (Sir Richard Boyer) and members of the Commission witnessed a demonstration of the nature and diversity of some of the programmes which will be available to viewers when ABC-TV gets under way.

Present also at the demonstration were the G.M., the A.G.M. and the BBC Representative in Australia (Mr. Robert Stead).

The programmes presented were in fact extracts from material designed to make up a full evening’s entertainment. They were divided into two continuous units, the first unit being produced by Mungo MacCallum and the second by Kay Kinane. In the result, the effectiveness of TV staff training to date was made obvious. Also – as will be further seen from the photographs on this page – the number of people who may be involved in TV studio production of a full evening programme was emphasised. The demonstration included a news bulletin presented by Michael Charlton, and illustrated by excerpts from newsreel films, visuals, maps, plans, etc.: a complete weather survey, in which Harold Bond, of the Sydney Meteorological Bureau surveyed the weather over the Australian continent in general, and in New South Wales in particular, and concluded by showing on a Bretzicon the following day’s weather in the making: a rural programme, introduced by Bruce Webber, in which, first, Fred Widdows dealt with the quality and prices of vegetables available at Sydney markets, and second, Miss Margaret Beale (of Sydney Technical College) gave a cooking demonstration: a puppet show for children with John Hetherington and Annette Macarthur Onslow manipulating the puppets: and, finally, an extract from Café Continental, compared by Arthur Wyndham.

Two cameras were used throughout the show, and also in use was the Mole-Richardson boom, which enables the microphone to be extended up to 171/2 feet in almost any direction in the studio.

At the conclusion of the demonstration the Minister congratulated the producers, the technicians, performers, announcers and floor assistants on the efficient job all had done.

Certainly the success of the effort augured well for the telecasts at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

St Peter's Group

Staff who took part in the ABC-TV demonstration attended by the Postmaster-General and the Chairman and members of the Commission, in Sydney on February 24.

(Click on Image to enlarge and Hover over faces to show peoples names)

RADIO-ACTIVE, March 15, 1956 – Page 5



Thousands of New South Wales people who visit the Royal Easter Show in Sydney this year will have their first experience of television – per medium of the ABC.

ABC-TV has been allotted space in the centre of the Wine Pavilion where a temporary TV studio and control room will be set up, and where, from Friday, March 23, to Tuesday, April 3, inclusive, several quarter-hour programmes will be televised each day.

Sound programmes will be broadcast as formerly from the studio in the Commemorative Pavilion; but telecasts and sound broadcasts will be dovetailed, so that one medium will not clash with the other.

TV monitor screens will be available in the Wine Pavilion; and viewers will be able both to watch productions in the studio and to view them on the screen. In addition, co-axial cables will transmit the programmes to screens in the Commemorative Pavilion and the Manufacturers’ Hall.

The programmes will cover rural interests, women’s interests (including handicrafts, cooking, etc.), children’s club, and variety. Every evening there will be two meteorological sessions, in which the weather up to date will be surveyed on maps, etc., and forecasts will be given. Viewers will see the following day’s weather map in the making, and isobars and other details will appear on the screen as if drawn by an invisible hand.

Another service programme with which the ABC will make its TV debut at the Show will entail the bringing of lost children to the screen. Parents will be asked to call at the lost children’s tent to collect their straying offspring. It is possible that extra tents will become necessary to accommodate the children who will be lost.



Talbot Duckmanton (Manager for Tasmania, at present seconded to TV for special duties) returned recently from a world tour during which he visited Malaya, Great Britain, Italy, France, West Germany, Holland, the United States of America and Canada. The purpose of his mission was to investigate the major sources of supply of film material, and to make arrangements in the countries visited for an exchange of films. In Rome, for instance, he attended a meeting of the European Broadcasting Union – to which in fact mist countries in the world with radio and television services belong – and arranged for an exchange of film material between the ABCV and kindred organisations in other member nations of the Union.

Overseas material which has been lined up includes films depicting the activities of Australian troops in Malaya; newsreel and travelogue films (for instance, a travelogue film from Holland showing life along the canals); an Austrian film linked with the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, and made in places where the composer lived and worked; and from Italy, a film on the life of Pope Pius XII. Plans are also in hand for the purchase of films on fashion trends in America and Europe, for use in the Women’s Session; and it is hoped to exchange with other countries material on interior decorating and home management.

In short, a very wide variety of film material from local and overseas sources will be available for use on ABC-TV; though there will, of course, be a balance between this material and live studio productions and outside broadcasts.

RADIO-ACTIVE, March 15, 1956 – Page 6


All contributions to be addressed to the Editor, "Radio-Active",
Box 487, G.P.O.,
Volume 10 – No.4     Literary contributions are invited     May 15, 1956


Television and the Staff

By Charles Moses

This is the first of a series of special articles on ABC-TV, referred to in our last issue. Here the General Manager writes of the effect of television developments on the staff generally, and answers a number of questions which the approach of our television service has raised.

We expect that the ABC’s television service in Sydney and Melbourne will begin in November this year. To achieve this objective, there is a lot of work to be done in the coming months and I am sure each one of you would be ready to share in the detailed planning and practical work that is before us. Our plans are not yet complete but the main outlines are clear and I can now give you a general picture of them, especially about staff training. In the next few issues of RADIO ACTIVE there will be a series of articles giving more detailed information about various aspects of our plans.

You have all probably been wondering how the coming of television will affect you. The first point I would like to make clear is that our television service is to be integrated as closely as possible with our existing sound broadcasting service and therefore will concern to a greater or lesser degree a large proportion of the staff, even though they may not be directly working on television programmes. Naturally we will need officers with specialised qualifications and training for specific television duties, particularly the actual production of programmes, but the heads of our existing specialist programme departments will in future be responsible for both sound and television, and our administrative staff (augmented where necessary) will be servicing both kinds of programme activity.

For this reason, I hope you will all be interested in learning as much as you can about television. It will be just as important, for example, that the accounts staff in Sydney and Melbourne – and later in other States – should have a general understanding of television as it is now for them to have a general knowledge of the programme side of sound broadcasting. We will do all we can to help these sections of the staff in learning something about television.

As to those who would like to move into specific television work, I want to make it clear that all of you who have qualifications that justify your being chosen for special training, will have an opportunity of attending a television school in due course. A committee has been set up to make sure that the claims of every member of the staff will be carefully considered.

There is, however, one proviso at the moment, this being that we can arrange training opportunities for officers living in centres other than Sydney or Melbourne only if they are prepared to move in the event of their later being appointed to television positions. As we have not a great deal of time before our service is due to start, we cannot afford to allot places at the training schools to people who, for personal reasons which I can understand, could not be considered for the first appointments in Sydney or Melbourne. They will have their chance later on: we will of course continue to arrange training schools from time to time even after our service begins.

Over the past two and a half years, over thirty members of the staff have been overseas, most of them at their own expense, or on scholarships, to learn as much as possible about TV. These officers have formed the nucleus of our training team, passing on their knowledge and experience to as many as possible of their colleagues. But I do not want those of you who are keenly interested in TV and have not been able to go abroad – either because they had to think of their families or for other important reasons – to feel that they will be at a disadvantage.

It will be some little time before final decisions are made about quite a number of our permanent television appointments and in the meantime our television schools will provide an excellent training for all who have the qualifications and temperament for this work. Some of you have already had a chance to try your hand at television, either through the courses run by the Technical College in Melbourne or, more recently, in the three "familiarisation" schools which have been organised in Sydney. In all, some 90 members of the staff have now had the opportunity of learning the fundamentals of TV. The results achieved at the "familiarisation" schools, which are intended to provide only a basic training, have been remarkably good, although there is a long way to go before those trained at these early schools would feel ready for the exacting task of helping to keep an actual programme service going.

We hope to arrange two more "familiarisation" schools in Sydney before the end of July, 1956. After that the Sydney School, which will concentrate on training for studio programmes, will be used for a series of "workshops" in which those who have shown most aptitude during the various preliminary courses, will be given the opportunity of more intensive training and of undertaking more and more advanced practical work. The first of our "workshops" is in fact in progress at the moment: we interrupted the schedule of "familiarisation" courses to arrange this workshop to take advantage of the presence in this cou8ntry of Mr. Rudy Bretz, whose books about TV many of you will have read and who agreed to conduct this particular school for us. For the later workshops, that is, those to be held in the three or four months before our service goes on air, we are hoping that the BBC will make available to us the help of a senior experienced member of their TV staff.

So far we have not been able to undertake any OB (outside telecast) training because we have as yet no equipment, but this month the first of our television OB units is due to arrive in Melbourne. As soon as it is assembled and in running order, we plan to begin "familiarisation" courses with it and, later, more intensive training in all types of OB programme work. We have already made arrangements with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to lend us one of their best OB producers, Mr. George Retzlaff, to take charge of our OB training from about early August onwards. He will remain with us until the Olympic Games are over.

Eventually we will have two TV OB units – one for Sydney and one for Melbourne – and the second will probably be delivered in August. However, we shall concentrate both units in Melbourne during the training period and probably until the Games are concluded. Our studio training will therefore be concentrated in Sydney and our OB training in Melbourne: this division of effort will help us to get through all the preparatory work that has to be done before our service starts.

Finally, a word to those of you who do not see your own personal future in TV. We certainly do not intend that sound broadcasting should be neglected or forgotten because of our exciting new responsibilities in TV. There are some forms of programme material that will always be more suitable for sound than for TV – for example if we can see the orchestra it does not add a great deal to the enjoyment of a symphony; to see a speaker giving a talk sometimes distracts us from the subject matter of his talk. Moreover, for many years to come sound broadcasting will be providing the only radio available for a large part of our population. No decision has yet been made by the Government about the extension of television to other capital cities and clearly it will be a long time before such a service can be provided for the majority of our country centres. We therefore have very important responsibilities in sound broadcasting and we intend to keep on trying to improve the standard and effectiveness of our sound programmes. This being so, no ambitious member of the staff need feel that it is advisable for him or her to try to move into television in order to make progress in our service. The fact is that those of the programme staff who would prefer to stay in sound can be assured that there will be plenty of avenues of promotion open to them.

RADIO-ACTIVE, May 15, 1956 – Pages 3 and 4




by Arthur Wyndham

During a recent trip overseas Arthur Wyndham (Sydney Announcer) attended the BBC Television Training School, and spent several weeks attached to Lime Grove and the Outside Broadcasts Department. Here he writes of a fascinating aspect of TV production which he observed at the BBC.

In 1926, when the world’s first viewers sprang back goggle-eyed from the monitor screen, television was regarded a little short of magic. To-day its simple principles are understood by many and accepted without question by most. However, magic of ever increasing complexity is performed daily in the BBC’s studios, and although chronic viewers are quick to advance explanatory theories, they are usually wide of the mark.

Much of this is due to the inspired genius of one man, Mr. D. R. Campbell. A senior BBC engineer whose patient work over the years has perfected the techniques of "Inlay" and "Overlay," and who designed and built the complicated equipment necessary for its implementation. When an artist’s reflection in a mirror suddenly changes before your eyes to the face of another, when tiny figures dance on a piano keyboard and then disappear, when actors appear at the window of a building you know was bombed out during the war, then you can be certain that Mr. Campbell or one of his followers is at the back of it.

Briefly, the object of Inlay, which we will have a look at first, is to superimpose all or part of one picture on to part of another picture, but without the obvious disadvantages of transparency apparent with normal superimposition.

Say, for example, we had the outline of a building painted on a scenery flat, and we wanted a live actor to appear and move at one of its windows. The scenery flat is our primary picture – picture A. The actor is photographed against a black backdrop by a second camera and becomes the secondary picture, or picture B. Now you can see that the task is to mask out the window from the primary picture and insert, or inlay, picture B.

If you were to be shown the inlay equipment, you would see two preview screens in the normal viewing position, registering the two pictures A and B. Below them, and placed vertically, is a blank cathode-ray tube. Place your hand on the blank tube, and you will see it perfectly reproduced on picture A. Within the outline of the hand, however, you will see parts of picture B.

Take another example. Place a penny on the blank tube, and again you will find part of picture B, neatly enclosed by the circumference of the penny, inlaid on picture A and blacking out what lies beneath.

That is HOW it works. Here, in brief detail, is WHY it works.

Within the blank tube a beam of electrons is carrying out the same scanning operation with which we are familiar in camera and receiver tubes. Immediately above it a photo electric cell, to which both cameras are connected, registers changes in the light value. When the scanning spot is balked by the mask, the photo electric cell reacts violently, and automatically switches to the second camera. When the scanning spot is clear of the mask, and full light value is restored, it immediately switches back to the first camera. The complete line scan, including two camera switches, takes only 100 micro-seconds.

Now let us have a look at the solution of our original problem – inlaying a live actor into the window of a building drawn on a scenery flat. A mask of cardboard is cut to the exact picture proportions of the window, and moved around on the blank tube until the window is neatly blacked out in picture A. The mask is simultaneously reproduced on picture B, except that here it appears as picture brightness, with the rest of the frame blank. The actor, against his black backdrop, is then moved into position within the mask area, and the camera is tracked in or out until he is correctly proportional. The two cameras are then linked to a single output channel by remote control, the composite picture emerges on transmission, and bewildered viewers are left wondering how it was done.

Overlay is a much more highly complex operation, and as yet not fully perfected. As its name implies, it is the process of laying a secondary picture over the top of instead of into a primary picture. Whereas an inlaid subject is restricted to movement within the confines of the masked area, and will be obliterated when moving beyond it, an overlaid subject may move freely across the whole of the primary picture, and obliterate the background in passing.

The capacity of inlay/overlay equipment for trickery is practically limitless, and producers are devoting more and more of their energies to the creation of new ideas for hoodwinking the viewing public.

In seeking a different way of presenting the popular number, "Rock Around the Clock", a light entertainment producer filled the studio with antique clocks of assorted aspect. The camera slowly moved among them, and as it tracked into a close-up of each one in turn a group of singers and dancers was inlaid into the face. Another had two dancers performing on a high dais to a zither accompaniment of "Lights of Vienna." The zither was photographed in close up, and the tiny figures of the dancers, taken from well back on a wide angle lens, were inlaid into the corner of the instruments. At the end of the dance they leapt from the dais, moved out of the masked area, and appeared to disappear into thin air.

The most ambitious use of inlay I saw while training with the BBC was by Brian Tesler, one of the Corporation’s youngest and most imaginative producers. A compere stepped through a simulated movie screen and stood beside it to introduce in turn excerpts from old musical films and live studio routines which appeared to be projected continuously on to it. If anyone has the time to listen I will be glad to explain how, but space does not permit me to do so here.

The same equipment makes possible dissolves in geometric patterns, "wipes," where one picture appears to pull the other off the screen, and other equally incredible and useful tricks.

Finally, a further brief note on overlay. And how by reversing its lighting requirements, it is possible to produce one of television’s most spectacular pieces of magic. In a demonstration I saw given by the equipment’s inventor, a girl and a chair were overlaid on a static back-projected kitchen scene. Overlay can only function with the maximum of light reflection, and the girl was therefore dressed in near-white clothes, and subjected to twice the normal intensity of studio lighting. By taking off her top coat, under which she wore a black, floor length dress, her body immediately disappeared, leaving only a disembodied head and arms. When she removed her white cap, her dark hair tumbled out and obliterated the clear outline of her head and neck. She took off her gloves, picked up a black cloth, and slowly covered her arms and face. On the chair could be seen a coat, hat and gloves, but of the girl who wore them, there was no trace – and yet she was standing right beside the chair.

I found however, that while the use of these trick effects was often startling and frequently ingenious, over-use of them is inclined to strangle the artistry of unaided presentation.

RADIO-ACTIVE, May 15, 1956 – Pages 14 and 15





All contributions to be addressed to the Editor, "Radio-Active",
Box 487, G.P.O.,
Volume 10 – No.5     Literary contributions are invited     June 15, 1956

Staff Club Notes – Sydney

In continuation of the series of lectures on aspects of TV arranged by Sydney Film Group, Kay Kinane (Federal Youth Ed. Editor-Producer, seconded to television duties) spoke at Broadcast House Theatrette on May 8 on "TV and the People." Her talk was illustrated by kinescope film excerpts.

On May 15, by way of variety, a TV Brains Trust undertook to answer questions on ABC-TV sent in previously by members of the staff. Members of the Brains Trust were Rudy Bretz (American TV expert – Chairman); Robert Stead (BBC Representative in Australia); Clmment Semmler (Asst. C/Progs); Talbot Duckmanton (TV – Special Duties); Neil Hutchison (D/D &F); and Mungo MacCallum (Asst. D/Talks).

An interested audience heard members of the Trust answer questions on O.B.’s and discuss the relative importance of O.B.’s and studio productions. Questions on drama production led speakers to touch on matters relating to writers, producers and talent, to the part that film will play, and to the opportunities that will be given to Australians.

A question as to opportunities for women announcers on TV drew some interesting comment from Robert Stead and Mungo MacCullum. The consensus of opinion was that though male announcers, generally speaking, have the advantage in the matter of voice, on TV viewers will incline to women announcers as being more pleasant to look at!

The telecasting of symphony concerts and recitals was the subject of another question put up to the Brains Trust, and led to an interesting exchange of opinions on a matter which has so far proved problematic.

Altogether, a very interesting hour was spent, and Dr. Keith Barry expressed the feeling of all in thanking the speakers heartuly.

The speaker on May 22 was Anthony Evans (H.O. Rural), just returned from the U.S.A. where he attended Iowa State College on a Fullbright Scholarship. His subject was TV and Film.

RADIO-ACTIVE, June 15, 1956 – Page 13


All contributions to be addressed to the Editor, "Radio-Active",
Box 487, G.P.O.,
Volume 10 – No.6     Literary contributions are invited     July 16, 1956

The Nature of TELEVISION

In continuation of our special series of articles on ABC-TV, Neil Hutchison, Director of Drama and Features, and Clement Semmler, Assistant Controller of Programmes, examine the nature of the new medium, and emphasise the challenge and the opportunity it presents.

A cynical American once remarked that television is a place to which little movies are sent when they are bad. We have to see to it that that will not be an accurate description of our own service; for television is perhaps the most powerful and influential publicity medium of modern times, and its potentiality for good and bad can hardly be exaggerated.

The impact of sound radio is great, and over the years it has had enormous influence in the community. But the impact of television, it is computed, is as much as nine times greater.

The ABC will carry the obligations imposed upon it in sound radio into the new medium. We shall be committed to entertain, to educate and to inform. In fact, it will be our job to reflect all activities and aspects of the community.

Commercial television naturally always looks for the mass audience. This is necessary because its prosperity depends on its ability to sell the greatest number of products to the greatest number of people. National Broadcasting has a different role to play. It must serve many minorities and it must serve them in such a way that when those minorities are added together, the sum total of the community emerges. In fact, we have to serve all the people some of the time.

A survey which was recently carried out in America brought to light the fact that 70 per cent. of the population was satisfied with the television service given them. This was, of course, a most satisfying result for the commercial interests concerned; but it meant that 30 per cent. Of the American community was dissatisfied, and that, because there was no national television service, this 30 per cent. Was largely unrepresented in American television.

We believe that minorities are sometimes as important as majorities, and that we would be wrong to neglect their interests. Such a view is integral in the democratic faith as we know it in the Anglo-Saxon world. It has always been part of the true democrat’s philosophy to recognise the rights of minorities and to give to them a little bit more scope than that to which they are entitled in terms of their numbers. In that way, minorities are encouraged to grow and to establish themselves in an atmosphere of freedom.

Just how a mass audience addicted to the lowest common denominator in radio or television entertainment can be won over to the type of programme which represents better standards and includes, at least, an element of information and education is, and always has been, a perennial problem with programme planners. Perhaps the answer lies in fragmentation, i.e., a policy of aiming particular programmes at particular sections (not minorities) in the mass media audience, and so chipping off more and more strata to join the general audience of the station or network concerned. In any case, we must beware the situation of a quasi-democracy in which every listener or viewer believes he is entitled to the type of programme that he thinks he wants.

In the musical world, the ABC has already had considerable success in this direction. The broadcasting of the great works of music has resulted over the years in an enormous increase in the number of people studying music and attending concerts. The Commission has been, in fact, a little ahead of the public, but not so far ahead as to be out of touch. The consequence is that interest in good music has been fostered, and it is still growing. This is the sort of operation which is in the very essence of National broadcasting. We hope and believe that it is a policy which will pay off in the new medium.

Now there is no getting away from it that television is altogether more absorbing and more compelling than its radio counterpart. This presents us with an opportunity and a challenge. For television can be much more than an instrument for the dissemination of entertainment and good fun. All entertainment is education in some way, many times more effective than scholastic education, because of the appeal to emotion rather than intellect. Because TV entertainment wears the warmth and colour of the senses, it is potentially one of the strongest and deepest of educative sources. Any consistent patterning in the mass communication of human relations, of attitudes, values and goals, is education in the broadest sense of the term. It is instructive to remember that definition of culture first suggested by T.S.Eliot, i.e., that the interests of the average man; the environment of his everyday life; his sources of entertainment – whether sport, theatre or the books he reads (whether "pulp" or good prose); his conversations; the levels of his appreciation; all these things constitute his culture. Here surely is one of the great tasks ahead for television. This powerful medium, properly used, can contribute towards raising and improving the culture of the common man.

It will be our job then to see that, as in sound, entertainment is framed by enlightenment and good taste. In the past, we have been able to do this largely because our income has been independent of the popularity of individual programmes. The BBC has enjoyed the same advantage, but, and it is a big but, "when it comes to television (and here we quote Sir George Barnes) the broadcasting public’s acceptance of programmes upon which we have hitherto relied is forfeited if a single strand programme (like TV) is too liberally sprinkled with non-popular items. Television by its nature is a means of communication with the many. Programmes are far too costly to cast on the air unless they are received. They must find and keep their audience, or cease."

In any consideration of the nature of television we must bear in mind, too, those technological improvements and advances which, if they are not here now, will surely come. Colour television is now a reality in United States of America. The large networks are transmitting colour programmes regularly, and indeed, recently the Vice President of the NBC television network predicted that by 1960 there would be 12 million colour sets in use in the U.S.A. The BBC is well advanced in its experiments in colour; inevitably, therefore, we must regards colour television as being just over the Australian horizon, and even now we must be prepared to consider the effect that colour will have on the types of programmes we put out, their presentation, and their impact on the various sections of the community. Again, although at the moment there are very considerable problems in the coverage of television transmitters and in the matter of arranging relays, experiments even now are showing the likelihood of a state of affairs in the not too distant future when world hookups by television will be possible. "Worldvision" as it is called, will again be a powerful means of preserving world unity and above all of extending the mental horizons of viewers in every country in the world.

Now a question is frequently being asked, what will be the nature of our first TV programmes? Naturally a good deal of thought and organisation is even at this very moment being put into this problem. (In a later article it is hoped to give more detailed information about programme plans than is possible at the moment. – Ed.)

Obviously the ABC, which in sound broadcasting has such a proud record of Australian material and programmes, will be again jealous of this reputation and will endeavour to provide the highest possible proportion of Australian programmes. Naturally, of course, this problem must be assessed in relation to the facilities we will have, the size of our studios (and these will not be large to begin with), and within these limits by the standard of live production and presentation we can attempt. Nevertheless the ABC will have drama and feature productions, variety shows (of a simpler kind until we have our larger studios, both in Sydney and Melbourne, somewhere towards the middle of next year), interesting rural and talks programmes of the interview and celebrity type, religious telecasts, news and newsreels, studio sporting programmes where we will meet sporting personalities who are household names in Australia, and so on. We are examining the practicability of presenting good music on television. We will have children’s programmes essentially Australian in character and in a similar way we will present, entertainingly and instructively, service programmes to housewives and kindergarten programmes to mothers and their small children. In all our "live" Australian programmes, in fact, we will endeavour to reach all strata of viewing taste. Then of course we will have our mobile units in television, OB units as they are called. These huge vans with their complex associated technical equipment can bring on to the viewing screens programmes which constitute our greatest draw cards. Australia, for instance, is well known as a sporting nation; it is difficult for any of us who have been abroad to describe fully the attraction and popularity of sporting telecasts. Even to those less addicted to watching it in the flesh, sport provides some of the purest and most enthralling TV material. The contrast between the rigours of the arena and the cosiness of the home is more piquant than that felt by ringside spectators. Moreover, the contestants really have to forget that they’re being televised; they’re more genuinely unselfconscious than actors or interviewers or newscasters can ever be. Above all, it is most difficult to tear one’s eyes from the screen during a fast match, race or bout.

But we mustn’t run away with the idea that OB’s in television only extend to sport. Indeed where television is well established in other countries it has been found that the full out-put of OB departments will cover almost every phase of TV programmes – it is the microcosm within the macrocosm, as it were, and its miniature organisation controls the roving eye which feeds into the whole network. We can visit celebrities in their homes, we can cover those many happenings in the world around us fraught with drama and human interest, which help to make up the complicated pattern of life and activity. The departure of an ocean liner, a ballroom dancing competition, the arrival of Royal personages, a solemn State occasion – these and ever so many more happenings can constitute vital, authentic and informative television programme material through the medium of outside broadcast cameras.

Our film cameras can go further afield. They can cover phases of Australian life – the great outback, the rugged mountains (the Snowy River project, for example), the wilds of New Guinea – all the time reflecting the face and patterns of Australian life to Australian viewers.

Then, of course, our programme output can and will include films especially made for television in other countries; drawn from Britain, America, Canada and the Continent, and representing the very best in entertainment, information and education. We will be fortunate also in that, having the necessary equipment, we will be able to "telerecord" live programmes which we present in Melbourne and show them in Sydney and similarly show Sydney kinescopes in Melbourne. This will add to the basic interest of our programme pattern.

Obviously the problems which will arise from our first essays into the programme field will be enormous, but it goes without saying that all of us who are concerned with television have faith in the medium and in our own abilities to surmount our many obstacles.

Perhaps it may be said that television to-day seems to be at a point in its existence rather similar to that at which newspaper proprietors and magazine publishers found themselves some 70 or 80 years ago. Then there was the whole newly literate public to be captured, to be exploited, maybe even to be drugged – or on the other hand to be quickened into a richer life. In any event a cultural revolution did take place; and even if we sometimes feel that a popular and mass circulation press may have some limitations in this regard, we must always remember also such wonderful literary institutions as Everyman’s Library, Penguin Books and so on which originating from the same sources, have been a vital and compensating factor in our community life and culture. Television, therefore, may be said to come into the same order of things, and it can and will make its mark in the national consciousness once our programmes begin to appeal as programmes which insult no one’s taste or intelligence, and are at the very least on the level of interest of a book, play or even film that "no one can afford to miss."

RADIO-ACTIVE, July 16, 1956 – Pages 3, 4 and 16



Television training has been moving steadily forward since our last report.

A workshop, carrying the training one step further, was conducted by the American TV expert, Rudy Bretz. His easy, informal manner, coupled with an obvious command of the medium made the workshop an outstanding experience for the 21 staff members attending. They had daily lectures on aspects of TV planning and programming, and each school member produced three short programmes for class discussion and criticism. An excellent team spirit allowed first rate objective criticism to develop.

A further elementary school followed this workshop, with the usual enthusiastic response: eight interstate staff members took part, as well as 13 more from Sydney. This was the last of the current series of elementary training schools, except for a short school for script assistants.

This latter course was a crowded three and a half days for 19 girls, introducing them to the intricacies of being "girl Friday" to a TV producer. After a bewildering introduction to the studio, where they tried their hand at everything from working cameras to calling shots in the producer’s booth, the girls settled down to doing routine script assistant work for three short productions. They typed scripts, filled out an impressive array of requisition forms and raced round Sydney finding props, as well as assisting at the productions.

The next phase of training has now started at St.Peter’s Hall with the first of the specialist department workshops under way. Children’s Hour are trying out "Argus" and "Phidias" and other sound personalities in front of the camera, and rehearsing shows which will be part of the opening transmission at Gore Hill from the small presentation studio.

Other specialist department workshops will follow, and an OB school in Victoria, using the resplendent new OB van, which is currently being put into operation in Melbourne.

Rural and Sporting are the next departments to try out programmes in workshops, and St. Peter’s Hall is bulging at the seams as more and more props for different departments have to be stored. Then will follow workshops for programmes from the Drama and Features Department, Light Entertainment and Music, Talks and Religious Broadcasts. Programme officers concerned are closely watching these presentations, while drawing up the first preliminary layouts of the programme schedules for the beginning of our service in Sydney and Melbourne.

RADIO-ACTIVE, July 16, 1956 – Page 7




All contributions to be addressed to the Editor, "Radio-Active",
Box 487, G.P.O.,
Volume 10 – No.7     Literary contributions are invited     August 16, 1956


The Principles of Television Studio Design

And their application at

Gore Hill and Ripponlea

By Stanley Darling, Technical Supervisor


The comparatively late start Australia is making in television has several advantages, one important one being that we can thereby profit by the experience of other television organisations which, by now, have found out what was wrong with their planning and what they would do if they could start again. Of course, the story is not ended yet. No doubt in our turn we shall be warning future builders of television studios of things we would have done differently if we had the chance. We have, however, become very much aware of three very important principles of television studio design which we have used as our guide posts.

Firstly, the problem of economics. You have been told often enough that television production and operating costs are very high – up to ten times as high as for an equivalent radio programme. What is not quite so obvious is the fact that programme costs depend very much on the effectiveness of the facilities available to the producers and the staff. If the studios are too small, or if access to them is difficult, or if their scenery supply is in some other part of town, all these things add alarmingly to the total cost of the programmes. It follows therefore that a studio building should provide facilities for programmes to be produced in the free-est, simplest and most economical way, and that the omission of these facilities will lead to higher operating costs.

The second principle is the need to have adequate scope for expansion. If the chosen site is not big enough, there is no alternative but to locate studio additions on some other site. We would then either have to establish a second expensive scenery manufacturing organisation at the second site, or face up to the extremely high transport bill for trucking the scenery, etc., from the main centre to the newly added studio or studios. Just what is a sufficient size for a studio centre is something of a sixty-four dollar question, because if you err too much on the liberal side you have to go very far afield to find a suitable site; and again, up go operating costs. Despite the warnings of their predecessors, most television authorities have made the mistake of underestimating the area required. We can see up to eight acres at Gore Hill in Sydney, and the same at Ripponlea in Melbourne. Time will tell whether or not we have short-measured our requirements.

The third guiding principle in our television studio design is the paramount need for flexibility. Television is a rapidly developing art. New types of camera tubes, colour, video tape recording, radical developments in programme types – all of these could change quite significantly the functional requirements of the building. It is therefore important that it should always be possible to adapt the facilities to meet new developments. It is important too that the layout of the studio buildings should be such that its various sections can be expanded as much as may be necessary independently of one another.

Given the three general principles mentioned above, the following is a list of the basic requirements of a television studio building such as we need.


Size of Studios

Although some television programmes can be produced in small studios, the scope of such programmes is limited, and the cost can be high. Current thought is that television studios should not be less than about 5,000 square feet, and might well be up to 10,000 square feet. It is considered that it is not possible to utilise to the full the expensive equipment in the studio, nor the production potential of the staff and the artists, in a studio of smaller dimensions. Our first two studios in both Sydney and Melbourne will be 80’ x 60’ each, but we have in addition a small presentation booth 30’ x 20’ intended for announcements and very simple talks type programmes. The next studio to be built in each city will probably be larger. The desirable height for a television studio is 35 feet, but for economic reasons it will not be possible to achieve this in our first studios.


Number of Studios

It is difficult to provide a range of "live" TV programmes with less than two studios, as one will normally be required to accommodate the permanent or semi-permanent sets for the regular programmes, such as the Women’s and Children’s Sessions, leaving the other available for the presentation of plays, variety programmes and other productions. A major production normally occupies a studio for at least a full day for setting up scenery, etc., and camera rehearsals. That studio will not therefore be available for any other assignment on that day. In fact, programmes of special importance may require the full use of a studio for two or even three days.

The television centres in Sydney and Melbourne therefore will have two main studios and the presentation booth as mentioned above, but the areas of land available to us could, if necessary, accommodate up yo six more large studios.


Studio Ancillaries

These are as follows:

  1. Television Engineering Centre:
  2. This is the nerve centre of the building, and includes the Master Control Room, the control rooms to each individual studio, the telecine room for the presentation of programmes from film, the telerecording room for recording programmes on film, and the processing room associated with the telerecorder. In addition there are the necessary maintenance rooms, storerooms and workshops.

  3. Scenery Supply:
  4. This includes the raw material store, set constructor’s shop for the manufacture of the scenery, the workshop where it is painted and given its final preparations, and the storage area. The two important requirements of the scenery supply area are that access from it to the studios should be as simple and as open as possible, and that it should be possible to expand the scenery storage space rapidly as programme activity grows. It is considered overseas that the storage area available should be roughly three times the aggregate area of the studios.

    (c) Dressing Rooms, Make-up, Etc.:

    These of course need to be close to the studios, with direct and fairly private access to them. They should, if possible, be on the same floor as the studios.

  5. Wardrobe and Graphic Art Section:
  6. Whilst the wardrobe section is self explanatory, the latter is intended to provide captions, models and other visual shortcuts to television presentation. These activities should be reasonably handy to the studios.

  7. General Engineering Services:

The chief of these, of course, is air conditioning, which is a very considerable item in the overall building cost; but is essential because of the large amount of heat generated by the lighting in the studios.

In addition to the above, it is necessary to provide accommodation for film handling, for storage of properties, for scenery designers, for offices and for essential amenities, including the canteen facilities. Also required are a garage and associated workshop for O/B units, and storerooms for various types of engineering equipment and for film. Adequate rooms for dry rehearsals are needed; but there is a tendency overseas to prefer to locate these in the city, especially if the main studio centre is some distance away from the centre of the city.


Last, but by no means least, are some garden areas close to the studios, which can be used as open air locations for programmes such as the Women’s Session, interviews, gardening demonstrations, etc. A large parking area near the studios is also essential.

Having provided for this list of requirements, the final problem is how best, to put the sections of the building together. Here we have four guides:

  1. Access between the studios and the scenery storage area must be unhindered, and the distance reasonably short. For this reason all studios and the scenery area should, if possible, be on the one level and connected by a scenery runway.
  2. The television engineering centre should be located as near as possible to the centre of the studio area, because it would be useful if the distances of all the studios from the Master Control Room could be approximately the same – though this is never really possible where there are more than three or four studios.
  3. The layout should provide a natural mutual segregation of the four main types of traffic; scenery, artists, engineering and audiences. It is not possible to provide full segregation but we have achieved a reasonable degree of it by locating all dressing room activities on the studio floor at the end remote from the scenery runway, and all engineering on the floor above.
  4. The layout should permit expansion of the various activities independently of one another. To this end, in both centres, we have located the scenery area in one corner of the block and have left the ground clear for the expansion of this activity along one boundary of the site. Provision for studio expansion is a little different in Ripponlea as compared to Gore Hill, due to the topography and shape of the land; but the principles remain the same. Concerning the dressing rooms, as each new studio is added, a new group of dressing rooms will be required.

The engineering activities can be expanded as required, because of their location on the upper floor. In both Sydney and Melbourne we have used the device of surrounding our first studios by a ring of offices. This assists in the soundproofing of the studios against outside noises and also provides useful accommodation close to the studios.

For various reasons, including the relatively short time we had to prepare for TV, it was not possible to have the Sydney and Melbourne buildings completed in time for the beginning of our service; but we hope to have the central core in each city, comprising the presentation booth and its control room, the Master Control Room and the telecine and the telerecording rooms, in operation by November. The first of our main studios in Sydney should be in operation about Easter of next year, and the first main studio in Melbourne a few months later. Naturally, having to start the service in a building which is still under construction complicates our problem. It will, however, have one advantage at least; practically all television studio buildings at present operating are perpetually in a state of being rebuilt in some part or other. This tends to be resented by the staff using the building. We will be used to it, right from the beginning!

The following is a brief resume of the accommodation to be provided in the buildings now planned:



Lower Ground Floor:

Rehearsal rooms, film storage, electrical switchroom, lighting store, engineering store, air conditioning, compressor room, engineering workshop, O/B garage, temporary cafeteria.

Ground Floor:

Two main studios, presentation booth and control room, an immediate property store, associated dressing rooms, wardrobe area, theatrette, and some offices.

Mezzanine Floor:

Art section, film handling section, some offices and some storage.

First Floor:

Master Control, studio control rooms, telecine room, telerecording room and processing room, maintenance areas, engineering and administrative office areas.


Ground Floor:

Two studios, presentation booth and control room, theatrette, some offices, dressing rooms and, later a cafeteria

First Floor:

Master Control room, studio control rooms, telecine rooms, telerecording room, processing area, maintenance rooms, film handling area and offices.

The O/B garage and workshop, emergency plant room and substation will be located in the separate Service block.

The scenery manufacturing and storage area is also a detached building at ground floor level.

RADIO-ACTIVE, August 15, 1956 – Pages 3 to 6




All contributions to be addressed to the Editor, "Radio-Active",
Box 487, G.P.O.,
Volume 10 – No.8     Literary contributions are invited     September 17, 1956

Lloyd Hadfield, Director of Technical Services, in an article contributed to our special series on ABC-TV draws attention to the considerable increase in the number of ABC personnel which must result – and is already resulting – from the setting up of our own technical services. He indicates the wide variety of skill, experience and achievement represented in those who are now, and who in the coming months will be, joining the staff.

It may be a point to remember, in this connection, that though they may differ from one another in experience and in function, all the members of the technical staff will have this in common – that they will represent something quiet new in our organisation. It will be all the more important therefore that they should from the very beginning feel that they are one with us, and that they and members of the programme and administrative staffs should get to know one another as quickly as possible. That presents a difficulty, of course, at the present stage, owing to the fact that engineers and technicians are necessarily engrossed in the job of getting ABC-TV on to an operational footing, and are consequently in contact with only a small portion of the staff as yet.

Beginning with the next issue of the staff magazine, however, we propose to introduce members of the technical staff through its pages, and hope that this will help to make them known to everybody. Meantime, RADIO-ACTIVE ventures to say on behalf of the staff generally – "Welcome to the ABC!"


RADIO-ACTIVE, September 17, 1956 – Page 2



Some Technical Aspects of TV


Lloyd Hadfield, Director of Technical Services


With the advent of Television the ABC is acquiring a technical service of its own. This service is responsible for planning, operating and maintaining the studios and outside equipment for the National Stations in Melbourne and Sydney.

By the end of this year it is expected that there will be some 120 people in this new department. At present there is a small nucleus of seven engineers and about 50 technicians, the latter covering several grades from Technician’s Assistant (T.A.) to Supervising Technician Grade B. Those who have already joined us bring with them a wealth of experience acquired in the fields of sound broadcasting, radar and the film industry. A number of the staff have had the advantage of observing television overseas, and a few have worked in television in England for some years; but the large majority will have to absorb as much as possible of the new medium as quickly as possible.

Television covers a large section of engineering, and, in order to run the stations efficiently, we need experts in such varied categories as the operation and maintenance of sound and television studio equipment, VHF radio and UHF television links, electronic instruments, scaffolding erection, mechanical and electrical workshops, engineering stores, film processing and editing equipment, power generators and, last but not least, air conditioning plant.

Some idea of the scope and complexity of television equipment is shown by the fact that we will be using at least 200 different types of electron valves, varying in value from a few shillings to £1000 each, and that some of the mechanical components are made to an accuracy of two ten-thousands of an inch. To those who feel that television engineering is a simple business, I like to quote a BBC estimate of approximately 20 valve stages in an average sound studio, compared with approximately 1,800 in an average television studio. I would like, therefore, to beg patience and understanding in a television studio when something goes wrong, and the poor maintenance technician is expected to fix the fault in a couple of seconds!

Many of you will be wondering just what electronic equipment goes to make up a television studio centre. Perhaps you have heard of a number of new words such as "telecine" and "telerecord". For those people unfamiliar with television, the best way to understand how the various sections go together is to an analogy with sound broadcasting. A television station follows the same broad principles, except that, wherever the sound programme goes, the picture must go also. The equivalents are roughly as follows:-


Sound studio Television studio
Outside broadcast point Outside broadcast van
Sound programme lines OB radio links
Gramophone and tape replay machines Telecine
Disc cutting and tape recorders Telerecord
Switch room Master Control


Sound studios contain microphones and sound mixing desks; a television studio contains the same sound equipment, but in addition, has television cameras to generate the picture, plus a vision mixing control desk. It must also have lighting equipment, together with a lighting control desk. With all these various functions to co-ordinate the television studio must also have a comprehensive talk-back system, so that the producer can have adequate control. In fact, this co-ordination is so essential that if the talk-back system breaks down, the studio is halted just as effectively as it would be by a power black-out!

To carry out an outside broadcast in sound broadcasting, one needs microphones, an amplifier and mixer and a sound programme line back to the studio centre. With television, in addition to the sound apparatus, one requires OB type cameras to obtain the picture, together with the amplifiers and mixers; but to send this picture back to the studio, a telephone line is not good enough. The frequency band required for sound is of the order 30 cycles per second to 10, 000 cycles per second. For vision (with the Australian system) the frequency band is from zero to 5,000,000 cycles per second. To get a signal with such a wide bandwidth back to the studio centre, one must have either a series of microwave radio links or else a very expensive co-axial cable. At each link repeating station, both power and communication are required. Add this to the communication and power problems at the OB Van and one can readily see that the engineering associated with a television outside broadcast is considerably in excess of an equivalent sound broadcast.

The equivalent to the gramophone and tape replay machine in sound broadcasting is the telecine machine in television. Just as a record or a tape is used to store a sound programme, film is used to store both the vision and sound in television. The films used in telecine machines to produce a television programme are exactly the same as the film used in the motion picture industry. A film for projection at the local theatre, when placed in a telecine machine, will show the same programme on the home receiver.

In general, telecine machines use of two principles to obtain the television signals. The first principle is simply to project the film directly into a television camera, using fairly standard film projectors. The second principle is the so-called "flying spot scanner", where a highly intense spot is made to scan the film very rapidly. The amount of light which manages to pass through the film at any instant is then converted into the television signal. The latter type of machine is the one the ABC will be using. With Australian standards, this type of machine is capable of producing pictures of the highest technical quality in television.

It is of interest to consider the enormous variety of film which these machines will handle. They will televise from 16 mm. or 35 mm. film, either positive or negative, with either optical or magnetic sound, and with the sound track either on the same piece of film or on a separate piece.

If one wishes to record and store a sound broadcast for later use, one uses either discs or tape; in television one uses a telerecorder. The telerecorder is merely a film camera which is set up to photograph the television picture as shown on a high grade receiver. It is easy to produce some sort of film record of a television show by this means, but it is extremely difficult to produce a really high quality record. The film, when obtained in this manner, may be televised later by using the telecine machine. Of course, the sound content of the programme must also be recorded, and in the machines which the ABC will use, we shall record the sound on a magnetic track on a separate length of 16 mm. film. The two lengths of film then hold the vision and sound stored on them separately and must always be kept in synchronism when re-played. Just as in sound broadcasting we can take a number of copies from this record, so this may be done in television by using normal motion picture techniques.

Finally we come to the heart and nerve centre of the studios, the Master Control Room. It is here that the programmes coming from the studios, the OB vans and the telecine machines are switched and sent of to the transmitter for transmission. It is here also that selected programmes can be switched to the Telerecord Room for telerecording and subsequent storage, ready for later transmission.

The Master Control Room not only receives all the television programmes and switches them out to where they are required, but it also contains the pulse generating apparatus which acts as a nerve centre to the whole station, keeping all the various programme sources in exact synchronism. Sound programmes may be mixed together to form a composite programme without the technicians having to worry very much about exact synchronism, but vision programmes to something like a tenth part of a millionth part of a second before two pictures can be mixed or superimposed! This sounds like an impossibly short length of time, but I can assure you that to a television technician it is an everyday affair.

I have managed to give you some indication of the technical ramifications of a television studio centre such as the ABC will soon be operating and maintaining. Television engineering covers a tremendously wide field, and although the ABC engineering staff have a lot to learn, an interesting and exciting time lies ahead.

What of the future? Sooner or later we shall have to face colour television. Where possible we have seen that our apparatus will handle colour as well as black and white. I feel that it is highly probable that some very far-reaching developments will occur in colour television before we become actively interested. At present colour is vastly more complex than black and white, in fact, so complex that itiis a field which is wide open to major simplifying developments.

Then we must look forward to the normal development and expansion of television in Australia. The possibility of television stations in the other capital cities; the immense problems, both economic and technical of taking television into country homes; the prospect of seeing Sydney and Melbourne linked together with a video circuit – the development of all these things must be of great interest to the ABC.

RADIO-ACTIVE, September 17, 1956 – Page 3 & 4


Overseas TV Experts on loan to ABC

The ABC recently welcomed two TV experts whom their respective countries – Britain and Canada – have loaned us for a time. One of these experts is Royston Morley, Chief Instructor in TV at the BBC Training School in London.

Royston Morley has had very wide experience in TV in Britain and elsewhere. A short time ago he was invited to Sweden, to assist the Swedish Broadcasting Organisation in the establishment of a television service. One of the BBC’s star television drama producers, he as also a successful TV and stage playwright. During his time in Australia, Royston will work mainly in Sydney.

The other visiting expert is George Retzlaff, supervising producer of CBC-TV sports programmes at Toronto.

George supervised CBC-TV coverage at the British Empire Games, held in Vancouver in 1954, and much of the heavy schedule of eastern and western football games carried out by CBC Television last fall.

Born in Kiel, Germany in 1921, George came with his family to Canada in 1928, and received his education in Winnipeg. He took an active part in football, basketball, hockey, curling, soccer and baseball. From 1951 he was TV cameraman in Toronto, and moved from that job into Sports production.

RADIO-ACTIVE, September 17, 1956 – Page 6



ABC personnel from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane at the TV O/B Workshop held in Melbourne recently. Standing (from L.): J. Byrne, Mungo MacCallum (Director of Workshop), R. McDonald, Tony Bennett, A. Wyndham, D. Carroll, Bill Newnham, B. McClenaughan, Peggy McLeod, M.McGinn, J. Buttle, Della Hilton, J.Munro, G. White, Phillipa Haesler, J. Pickup, B. Webber, H. Ternes. Kneeling (from L.) Bill Woods, "Bush" Hamersley, Bob Sanders, Dick Healy, R. Hammond. Present also at the Workshop, but not in the picture were Pat Russell and Ann Akon.

RADIO-ACTIVE, September 17, 1956 – Page 7



All contributions to be addressed to the Editor, "Radio-Active",
Box 487, G.P.O.,
Volume 10 – No.9     Literary contributions are invited     October 19, 1956

Television Programmes

By Clement Semmler

Mr. Semmler, Assistant Controller of Programmes is responsible for ABC-TV programme planning. Here he writes in both general and specific terms about the various types of programme which will be included in the National Service.

ABC television programmes will begin in Sydney on November 5, and in Melbourne on November 17. By now we have issued our advance schedules for quite a number of weeks. It might be a good point, therefore, to take stock of the general scope of the various types of TV programme, and to indicate what the ABC, at this stage, can do about it.

First of all, a little TV philosophy. As a medium it holds great possibilities; it also harbours its dangers. Its inducements to passivity haven’t been overstressed. But if Australia is to be a land of civilised habits, with its people living a full, active and mentally vigorous life, then TV, like sound broadcasting, must play its part to this end. It must constantly show people of all classes how they can use their minds to greater profit and pleasure; stimulating their interests; entertaining them whole-heartedly; heightening their awareness; suggesting the many avenues for the use of leisure. Not that TV must monopolise that leisure, nor seek to do battle with the picture theatre, the concert hall, the stage, the stadium or the grand stand. Since it will undoubtedly in the future have the lion’s share of broadcasting, it must take its place with distinction, among the others, in helping Australians of the future to put the increasing opportunities for recreation they will have, to good purposes.

Now, let’s look at a few specific types of programme. I daresay it is the serious music lover who will have the least provocation to exchange his radio for a TV set. Yet television, especially in ballet and opera, can offer a whole new world of experience to the musically-minded viewer; and the telecasting of concerts can attract the newcomer to music with the intriguing "shots" of orchestra, conductor and soloists that the camera brings. Through the medium of the OB camera especially we hope to bring all these things to our viewers eventually; but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and what with studio limitations, et cetra, at the beginning, anyhow (and in this general respect Melbourne will have to lag behind Sydney a little) we will have to be content with shorter TV music presentations of the recital and ensemble type. We have one or two very interesting and good quality films, too, including a splendid series of French Ballet which we will programme weekly.

By far the widest form of programme types presents itself in spoken word or Talks television. There are documentaries, magazines, discussions, forums, interviews, and even "panel games" or "quizzes" of the more academic or intellectual type. (Animal, vegetable or mineral, as done on the BBC with a panel of distinguished archeologists and scientists, is a case in point). Then I suppose we can put under Talks animal and wild life programmes, which are sure-fire winners in this medium; and the Women’s Session, which takes on a new mantle in TV. I suppose the best TV in this category – indeed, where the challenge of TV to sound radio in this field will be most sharply felt – is the discussion. Whether it is a political discussion, like the BBC’s In The News, or a more general type of controversial forum, the opportunity for the viewer to be present, as it were, at an actual encounter of speakers, face to face with each other, holds a great fascination. We in the ABC appreciate this, and hope to introduce studio programmes of this type at an early stage in both cities. We will produce at least one magazine-interview type programme a week, and a composite session called Picture Page which, topical in scope, will attempt to reflect as many facets of contemporary life as possible. The recently completed Talks workshop in Sydney has demonstrated that these programmes are eminently practicable. Allied to this sphere of activities are religious, rural and children’s programmes – all with marked possibilities for TV, and in each of which categories we shall endeavour to present one studio programme a week. Our rural programme, called Australia Unlimited, will be designed to interest the city viewer in what is going on round him, and in his own country, while ABC Children’s TV Club will aim to carry on the proud traditions of the Argonauts. By the way, we have some wonderful examples of documentary and "built" telecasts on film from those of you who will be viewing in Sydney and Melbourne, an archaeological series called Buried Treasure – dealing with such subjects as Tollund Man, Stonehenge and The Etruscans; a series on contemporary artists at work – including Graham Sutherland, Sickert, John Piper and others; and the brilliant documentary War in the Air.

Nor in this spoken word category should I forget news. I found, like most of my colleagues who were abroad looking at TV, that there is some diversity of opinion about the presentation of news proper on TV. Yet I would say that all of us are convinced that we must attempt "hard news" on TV, and so it will be. We plan to present on most days a small "unit programme" to begin with, made up of a short news bulletin, a newsreel, and of course, "the weather". Even in this modest target, the difficulties are great. The availability of illustration for the latest news items is unpredictable, and camera-men can’t always get where reporters can. (To expect custom to change quickly is to ignore the power of tradition.) But, above all, a genuine use of television in the news field can not only contribute to the health of the nation, but can open up new possibilities of responsible service and achievement to journalists.

As for drama – well, it would seem to me difficult for any sound-only production to seem as important as a performance on TV of, say, Hamlet, The Confidential Clerk or Pygmalion, since it will always be a fascination to see how TV "takes" such works. But the two media have different dramatic potentialities. Baldly, television is the more vivid, the more immediate medium; sound radio, the subtler, the more imaginative. Thus George Orwell’s 1984 on TV showed magnificently and realistically (since one viewer at least died of shock) the physical horror of the book; but the grand irony of the whole conception – Orwell’s own distance from it – tended in performance to be lost. To see Macbeth on TV is to have presented a Chicago style murder plot set in past history, with a grand visual portrayal of a domineering wife, witches and what have you. On sound radio, the suspense and tragedy conjured by Shakespeare’s language remain in our minds; TV can never do the same, for instance, with such a passage as "The raven himself is hoarse. That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan Under my batlements."

A note at this point on the importance of writing for TV. As my friend Royston Morley, of the BBC, recently reminded us in a Guest of Honour broadcast, the function of the writer can well influence the cultural and sociological significance of the medium.

Again, within the limitations of studios and other facilities, we will nevertheless essay at least one "live" play a fortnight, and hope to increase this quota very soon. On film we have plays of all types, feature length films (including such well-known British films as The Foreman Went to France and Tom Brown’s Schooldays; and some first class popular detective series including Fabian of Scotland Yard, Sherlock Holmes and Adventures of Ellery Queen. And talking of films, you will enjoy the series called Movie Museum, which delves into the history of the film, and re-presents sequences from such classics as The Great Train Robbery and Birth of a Nation.

Of Outside Broadcasts – covering of sporting, national events, public occasions, et cetera – I need say little, TV’s pre-eminence being obvious. Sporting TV should be one of our greatest drawcards, in view of the deservedly fine reputation of our sound service. Even for those least addicted to watching it in the flesh, sport provides some of the most enthralling TV material. Perhaps it’s got something to do with the piquant contrast between the rigours of the arena and the cosiness of the home: or perhaps with the complete unselfconsciousness of the contestants or players being televised (since they’re still intent on winning, cameras or no cameras). But there it is. Anyway, we have a magnificently equipped OB van in both Sydney and Melbourne, and the writing, if not on the wall, is even now in our preliminary schedules where our coverage will include the Olympic Games, National Tennis, Sheffield Cricket, as well as highlight occasions to be attended by H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburugh during his Australian visit.

And last, but not least, Light Entertainment. Of course, television comes into its own here. It has been said that the social historian of the future will find his evidence of the sensibility of the average man by scrutinising, not the novels, plays or even films of the period, but the half-hour programmes of wisecracking and caricature which have become so conspicuous a feature of broadcast entertainment. If the facile, rapid humour of sound radio evaporates considerably on TV, the medium nevertheless has found its own highlights in "spectaculars" and panel games. The latter indeed has become in Britain and the U.S.A. a phenomenon of modern entertainment (a case history involving millions of patients which may well baffle our future social historian). Now, while our ABC light entertainment shows will have to be simple in format to begin with, we still intend to start off with one a week, and we think we can find plenty of local talent to make these shows attractive to viewers. Later on, when we have our large studio, we’ll do better.

As for film – we have some very good shows. They include Life with Elizabeth, Frankie Laine, My Hero, Liberace, Amos N’Andy, Life of Riley and a number of others.

In conclusion – our immediate aim is to increase our output of quality "live" programmes. Our workshops and training, the enthusiasm of all concerned – and I include the grand work of our technical and engineering people – the presence in Australia of overseas experts Royston Morley (BBC) and George Retzlaff (CBC) to assist in studio and OB training – all these factors will contribute, I hope, in achieving this end – and the ultimate success of our service.

RADIO-ACTIVE, October 19, 1956 – Pages 3 and 4


Introducing the ABC – TV engineering staff


The Director of Technical Services is perhaps hardly in need of introduction here, as his was, naturally, the first engineering appointment to be made, and he has been with us for eighteen months.

LLOYD D. HADFIELD is an honours graduate of the University of Sydney, and holds the degrees of B.Sc. and B.E.

He spent three years in England with EMI, engaged in TV research and development – with an emphasis on film channels. On his return to Australia in 1951 he worked on electronic development associated with guided missiles, Salisbury, South Australia.

During the war he served as a Radar Officer in the A.I.F.

He was South Australian champion hammer thrower in the South Australian Amateur Athletics Championships at Adelaide University Oval from 1952 to 1955, and holds at present the Victorian and South Australian Open Hammer Throwing records.



KENNETH NOEL MIDDLETON, Supervising Engineer (Sydney), holds the degree of B.Sc. (Lond.) and is an associate member of the Institute of Physics.

Throughout the war he worked with the Home Office in the Directorate of Communications, and afterward spent six years with the Department of Civil Aviation. During much of this latter time he was stationed in New Guinea – for which he is prepared to put in a good word at any time.

He played hockey for an English County and also in New Guinea. Other interests are classical music and astronomy.



COLIN FREDERICK STOCKBRIDGE, Supervising Engineer (Melbourne), holds the Diploma of Electrical Engineering awarded by Sydney Technical College, and is an associate member of the Institute of Engineers.

He spent three and a half years in the United Kingdom studying TV; and in 1954 he made a second trip to the U.K. On this occasion he flew in a RAF Hastings ‘plane, calling in such places as Baghdad and Tripoli en route.

Prior to joining our staff, he was engaged on work relating to guided missiles, in South Australia.

Since taking up his present duties he has not, he says, found much time for outside interests. He likes tennis, however, and listening to recorded music.



THOMAS KEVIN BOURKE, Senior Engineer, graduated from the University of Queensland as B.E. (Elec.).

He comes to us from the PMG’s Department, where he was an engineer in the Radio Section in Brisbane.

He is a keen footballer and was a member of the Australian Rugby Union Team which toured England in 1947/8.

During the war he served as a Radar Officer in the RAAF.



JOHN A. POLL, Senior Engineer, received his training at Sydney Technical College, where he qualified for the Diploma of Radio Engineering. He also uses the letters, A.M.I.E. (Aust.).

He spent about twelve years wit A.W.A., working mainly in the Research Laboratories, and was for the last five years almost exclusively engaged on TV development work. Involved in this was considerable experience in actual telecasting on closed circuit – in the field of medical teaching, for example, and in coverage of the Royal Tour.

He is a keen tennis player and motorist. Riding is also an interest – and he has made a start on skiing. Not least among his interests is classical music.



DAVID MARK PRICHARD, Senior Engineer, is another product of Sydney Technical College, his qualifications being Dip.Rad.Eng., Dip.Elec.Eng., and A.M.I.E. (Aust.).

He was formerly with the PMG’s Department, engaged on Radio Telephone survey work. Earlier, he was engaged in surveys for radio-active materials in the Northern Territory.

Specifically on the TV side, he spent two years with the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, working on TV equipment design.

Sporting interests are surfing, surf life-saving and social tennis.



CARL REINHOLD WILHELM, Senior Engineer, holds a Fellowship Diploma of Communication Engineering from Royal Melbourne Technical College.

Prior to joining the ABC staff he was for three years at the PMG Research Laboratories. Earlier, he spent some time in England, where he worked at EMI Research laboratories, alongside Lloyd Hadfield and Colin Stockbridge.

Like other members of the engineering team, he finds TV a full-time occupation at the moment. But when opportunity and the season favour it, he goes skiing.

RADIO-ACTIVE, October 19, 1956 – Pages 8 & 9

All contributions to be addressed to the Editor, "Radio-Active",
Box 487, G.P.O.,
Volume 10 – No.10     Literary contributions are invited     November 15, 1956




National Television – Station ABN, Sydney – opened at 7 o’clock on Monday night, November 5.

"OPENING NIGHT", announced a superbly printed, star-studded card; "ABC-TV" appeared through the slender bars of a rotating ovoid. Then Michael Charlton, swaying only slightly under the stresses of the moment, and with considerable charm, welcomed viewers and introduced the Chairman, Sir Richard Boyer. Commendable in both brevity and delivery, speeches were made by Sir Richard, the Postmaster General, the Prime Minister and Senator McKenna, who represented the Leader of the Opposition. ABC-TV was away to a most impressive start.

This part of the programme was televised from King’s Cross, and soon we were up on top of the building with Brian McClenaughan having a fast look around the city’s skyline. A "pan". I thought, that moved rather too swiftly, leaving the commentator panting in pursuit.

All film is televised from the immense tele-cine machine in the temporary building, known as the Arcon, at Gore Hill, to the north of the city. That’s where we were taken for John West to explain something of this monstrous piece of equipment. It was ironical that sound (which the ABC has been dealing with for 24 years) and not picture, caused the first casualty. A short film of the violinist Christian Ferras showed the fiddler in a most energetic passage from a work that, to this reporter, remains unknown. As he played on in soundless ecstasy (except for a few hissed comments from "off stage", and a burst of orchestral music the title of which turned out to be "Desolation and Despair" we were wafted from today’s electronic wonderland back to the era of the silent movie.

"In television" said Michael, "you get a few moments of panic and tension. We’re having one now".

But soon the programme was swinging along merrily again. Val Cooney sang, Douglas Channel beamed, and Brian Rhys-Jones with Paul O’Loughlin were pleasantly informal.

Having forgotten nothing of the technique that made him an ace broadcaster, the G.M. was our next official speaker. He was followed by Sir Ian Jacob, who brought the job of running a TV service into sharp focus when he referred to our "unrelenting and continuous task". We could almost sense the quivers of apprehension from our TV pioneers behind the scenes.

For some reason, never made entirely clear, Frank Legg was introduced with a kitten snuggled in his arms. I suspect it was a neat device to occupy the hands, those unruly extremities of the television artist. Frank, plus the highly photogenic Siamese kitten, chatted happily with Mrs. Chica Lowe, introduced world traveller Brigadier Smeeton and his daughter, who were in turn followed by Julitha Walsh and her corroboree sticks. Julitha is such a pretty girl I would gladly have settled for a longer look at her face and less at her sticks. Mrs. Rossi, who is to be compere of "Woman’s World", was unfortunately injured in a car smash and could not appear, but two off her little children were able and charming deputies. Their only rivals as lovable characters were the Merlya puppets.

Trouble struck again with the Newsreel. The film broke, and we were plunged "into the black". A shame. What we saw of the newsreel was first-class. The break caught Michael a little unprepared. "Are we on?" he asked? We were.

Newsreader Jim Dibble put up a most polished performance. His was an impressive debut as a TV newscaster.

Things were really going well by this time, and we settled back happily for the first live artist play to be telecast in Australia – Barrie’s "The Twelve Pound Look". It could hardly be faulted. The staging, acting, camera work and production were entirely satisfactory and often quite brilliant. Congratulations especially to Margo Lee and producer Paul O’Loughlin.

From then on we moved from the real exciting, immediate staff of Television to film. Good though it was – "My Hero", with Robert Cummings, "War in the Air" documentary and the amusing "This is the ABC" – something of the magic had departed. We were back to home movies.

Although it was an exciting night, a foretaste of all sorts of good things to come. The programme had movement, variety and the spice of the unexpected. The technical achievement was considerable.

RADIO-ACTIVE, November 15, 1956 - Page 5


Who’s Who in ABC – TV

FRANK J. ALBANESE, Senior Film Editor, H.O., is from New York City, where recently he did TV work with the CBS as Senior Editor for daily news telecasts featuring Charles Colingwood, well known news commentator.

Before joining CBS about four years ago, he was engaged as a producer-director of TV programmes – both live and film – at an NBC affiliate TV station in Rhodes Island.

The exciting phase of his work with CBS was going out in the field with remote equipment to film-record with live sound a tremendous variety of spot news events.

In ABC-TV he will be responsible for film editing standards and procedures; and during the Olympic Games he will edit telerecordings which will be viewed in Sydney and Melbourne.

Outside leisure-time activities have included hunting deer and other wild game with bow and arrow; photography – both 16 mm. and still photography; and horseback riding in Arizona, New Mexico, Lower California and the New England States.

HERBERT L. (BERT) NICHOLAS, Chief Cinecameraman, H.O., spent some time with Cinesound as Director of Photography – newsreels and feature films.

More recently ha was with Herschell’s Films, in Melbourne, where he was in charge of the production of documentary, industrial and advertising films.

During the period he was with Cinesound, an overseas assignment took him (in 1948) to Hong Kong, where he made an exclusive film of the arrival there of the destroyer H.M.S. Amethyst, after her escape from the Chinese communists in the Yangtse Kiang River.

On home assignments he has been all over Australia, covering all kinds of stories. One that he recalls concerned the Stinson aircraft which crashed on Lamington Plateau in Queensland in 1937, and was lost for ten days.

He is an A Grade tennis player, and has also played competition table tennis.

LIONEL HOWARD PYE, Film Librarian, H.O., began his association with films at Hoyts Theatre in 1929 – at the tail-end of the "silent" era.

During the war he served as a Projectionist attached to various R.A.A.F. units, and was Welfare Secretary to an air navigation school. In 1942, and again in 1943 he produced the R.A.A.F. Rascals’ Review, which toured Victorian country towns raising money for welfare funds.

After the war he spent five and a half years with the State Film Centre in Victoria, where his work included the organisation of a circuit of 66 towns (covering the more remote areas of the State) and the provision of semi-instructional and documentary films, planned to have an interest for rural dwellers. During this period he graduated to Senior Films Officer, which involved supervision of a large scale non-theatrical film library.

His sporting interests are hockey, golf and badminton.

REGINALD M. (REG) BARRETT, Film Editor, H.O., was a cameraman and film editor with Cinesound prior to joining the ABC-TV staff, and worked on such films as Sons of Matthew and Undertow – a documentary on surf life-saving.

During the war he served as a photographer with the A.I.F. in Borneo, New Britain, New Guinea, Bougainville, etc. He photographed troop landings at Tarakan, Brunei and Balik Papan; and was also the first cameraman to get into Java and to secure a film there after the war. A particularly interesting assignment was the photographing of the war criminal trials in Jesselton, North Borneo, when the Japanese responsible for the Sandakan Death March were arranged.

DOREEN CASTLE, Senior Make-up Officer, H.O., gained her early professional experience at the BBC – where spent some time prior to coming to Australia about nine years ago. Since that time she has worked here on all types of film – documentary, feature, educational, etc.; and has also undertaken make-up work in amateur theatre – mainly the Viennese Little Theatre and the Sydney Little Theatre Society. Apart from these activities, she has found time to be a monitor on inter-state trunk lines in the PMG’s Department, and to pursue many and varied leisure-time interests. One of these is fencing, which she took up about seven years ago – obviously with no litle success, for at a carnival held in Sydney in 1953 she won the GPO Foils Women’s Championship.

Another interest is French flower making – and yet another, public speaking. Miss Castle attended classes in public speaking, human relations, etc., held in Sydney under the auspices of the Dale Carnegie Institute, and completed the course in May last. She is interested in public affairs generally, and has had considerable experience as a speaker at meetings of various societies, and as a broadcaster. Miss Castle is a Justice of the Peace.

WILLIAM KENNARD, Senior Graphics Designer, H.O., is a Londoner. He entered the British film industry in 1936 and – as décor and lettering artist – has worked on such films as Henry V and Hamlet.

During the war he served in the R.A.F., where he indulged in a complete changeof occupation – as a Corporal-Fitter.

Prior to joining our staff he spent six years as an artist in the Caption department (TV) of the BBC, where he worked in direct contact with producers and designers, and gained much experience in the presentation of graphics. During this time he was for nearly two years with the News Service, working under Tahu Hole – and, incidentally, alongside Ivan Chapman, of the ABC-TV News Service, H.O.

He is a keen golfer, and plays off a handicap of 14. In 1948 he won the cup presented by film star John Mills for competition among Denham and Pinewood studios; and last year he collected the Governor’s Cup – Junior Division – in the BBC Club competition.

He has brought his wife and two girls to Australia – and intends to stay.

RADIO-ACTIVE, November 15, 1956 - Page 6 and 7




By Martin Royal

The OB Workshop just concluded in Sydney reminded me somewhat of one of those fantastic ‘working up’ exercises in the Navy during the war, when everyone on board was called upon to do someone else’s job – a nervewracking and frequently embarrassing experience which never failed, as I remember, to give a certain sadistic pleasure to an apoplectic Training Commander whose job it was to transform, in the source of a few short weeks, an ill-assorted ship’s company into an efficient fighting unit capable of waging war at sea.

But perhaps I have exceeded the decent limits of comparison; for Mungo MacCallum, our Training Commander on the OB course was not given to apoplexy, nor did he appear at any time to gain sadistic pleasure from the numerous shortcomings of his dull-witted charges. By ABC standards alone we must have appeared an ill-assorted crew as we assembled at the showground studio (our temporary headquarters) on that first morning of the course. We came from everywhere – we came from Sporting, Announcing, Religious Broadcasts and Federal Programmes. How Mungo must have despaired! And yet by the end of the three weeks’ course we found ourselves enthusiastic members of (dare I say it?) a reasonably efficient team.

Most of us concentrating on some particular aspect of TV OB’s – producing, commentating, floor managing and so on: but all of us enjoyed the invaluable experience of getting to know the other fellow’s job as well as our own – an advantage rarely experienced ion sound broadcasting. Everyone, for instance, had a turn as producer in ‘the van’. An OB producer, unlike his counterpart in the studio, is called upon to do his own switching – or punching – of shots. It’s a frightening experience at first. You climb into the van: the door closes, and from then on there is no looking back, no further contact with the sunny world outside. In semi-darkness you gaze nervously at the three pictures being offered you by cameras 1, 2 and 3, and, immediately in front of you, a battery of keys reminiscent of a complicated typewriter. Your reflexes give an involuntary shudder. The game of chess begins. (Game, did I say? Because, this is no game: this is premeditated suicide!)

Grimly, desperately, you apply yourself.

‘Take one! On you one!

Take two! On you two!

Dissolve to three! On you three!’

A quick intake of breath – a half-strangled cry from Mungo MacCallum standing behind you, and you realise the worst has happened. You’re not on 3 at all. You’ve faded to black! You pray for something to happen, but nothing does. Blindly, irrationally you start punching keys – anything to get away from the black! At last, a picture – not the one you had planned so carefully in the run-down – but a picture. Sanity – of a sort – returns. Mungo MacCallum breathes again; and you, poor you (television producing is such a personal thing) prepare to face the next round.

‘Take one’. (Punch!) ‘On you one.’

‘Take two.’ (Punch!) ‘On you two’

Punch! Punch! Punch!…

At the end of it all you stumble limply from the van, receiving a perfunctory pat on the back from the next victim as he climbs in to take your place. You mutter some word of artificial encouragement in return, and miserably crawl away to contemplate the future and the inevitable post mortem. But to your surprise, when the hour of reckoning comes, you find that others have made similar mistakes. And, almost without realising it, you begin to look forward to your next turn in the box.

Personnel at the OB-TV Workshop at Sydney Showground, October 8 to 27

Oddly enough conditions inside the van are a lot better than you might imagine. There’s an air conditioning system (Forbes Street staff please note!) and reasonably comfortable seating accommodation for up to seven people, on two different levels. On the ‘lower’ floor, towards the front of the van, sit the two CCU operators (in our case Jack Christopher and John Laker), whose job it is to control the quality of the pictures coming in from each camera. Behind and above them are ranged from left to right, the Script Assistant, the Producer, the Technical Director (Lloyd Berndt) and the Sound Technician (Gordon Waterhouse). Other members of the Sydney OB Technical team include the three cameramen, Pat Kavanagh, Eddie Barnevelt and Peter Katchenko; and Ron May, who plans the technical details for all OB programmes. Most of the, with us, were finding their feet on the course, but already they have reached a remarkable standard of efficiency, which we on the programme side would do well to emulate.

As I have already mentioned, our training headquarters were ideally situated in the ABC’s studio suite at the Sydney Showground. Outside, in front of the Commemoration Pavilion, the grassed cattle-judging enclosure provided ample space in which to conduct our preliminary production exercises. Towards the end of the first week we embarked upon our first big venture – the televising of the Metropolitan Grass Court Tennis Championships at Strathfield. After that followed visits to the GPS Sports at the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Commemoration of Benefactors at Sydney University. On the second Saturday of the course we visited the North Sydney Olympic Pool, and that afternoon television cameras captured the thrill and excitement of a young Australian swimmer breaking no less than six world records. During the week that followed preparations were made to cover the Trafalgar Day celebrations at the Naval Dockyard, Garden Island – a most ambitious and intricate project which that afternoon I had the privilege of welcoming viewers to ABC-TV Channel 2 on the occasion of our first OB test transmission. The working-up stage had passed. The ship was now ready for sea.

RADIO-ACTIVE, November 15, 1956 – Page 10





There are pessimists who argue that news and television don’t go together. Only a short lap behind them are the wary with their plea to "wait a little while". Why, some ask, can’t we stick to the good old leisurely newsreels like those served up in the cinemas… why not leave the news to Sound where it belongs?

Experienced and far-seeing news and TV men overseas flatly rejected the claim that the day’s events could not be marshalled and presented in palatable form on the television screen. The major TV organisations in the United States set the ball rolling by tackling the undisputed difficulties and making the immense advantage of TV work for them. Britain and Canada followed in their wake. Continental and other countries are turning in the same direction. Notable among these is Australia. Our acquaintance with TV will be unique: we will be mating news and vision right from the start.

Earlier this year an Australian journalist visiting London ‘sat in’ with me for several weeks to see for himself the hurly-burly that goes hand in hand with writing scripts and commentaries for the BBC’s TV News and Newsreel programmes. After transmission that evening he asked, "How long did it take to get your first ulcer!" It was by no means an unreasonable remark. (The visitor was an ABC reporter. The fears of peptic ravages couldn’t match the fascination of what he’d seen at Alexandra Palace. He was an early, and very willing recruit to the troop which will be writing the news for the ABC’s Channel 2 in Sydney.)

But television and newsmen have a mutual and irresistible attraction the world over. The bait, of course, is TV news. It’s a challenge that sent our Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Hamilton, on an exhaustive round of the main studios and film editing rooms of Britain, Western Europe and North America. TV techniques in London, Canada and the United States have likewise been the special targets of former Queensland News Editor, Keith Fraser, who now supervises the team at our TV set-up in Sydney. The lure of November 5 also resulted in three other Australian journalists leaving their TV news jobs overseas – Bill Hudson in New York, Rick Tyler in Vancouver, myself in London – to come to the ABC. American film and TV experts, George Riesenberger and Frank Albanese, have also joined us. So, too, have former Cinesound cameraman and film-editor, Reg Barrett, and the BBC graphics artist, Bill Kennard. This nucleus of the squad responsible for getting the ABC news into vision moved into our TV News Centre at St. Leonards, Sydney, a few weeks ago. They immediately set about the task of passing their know-how to their colleagues who will be working with them. Long months of sometimes tedious buildup had at last merged into that essential younger brother of the real thing – the "workshop".

Newcomers quickly knuckled down to the job of gearing their talents to the intricacies of writing to film. From Sydney we’ve had Anne Ringwood, John Hinde, Syd Mounsey, John Crew, Ken Cook. Melbourne has sent us the News editor for Victoria, Jack taylor and his Chief of Staff, Perce Mooney, along with Tony Eggleton, Ernie Swindells, Joe Hannigan, Peter Baster, Jim Ramsay and Eddie Dean. They’ve been compiling scripts for news stories filmed by ABC cameramen and put into final shape by ABC film editors. Even after we go on air, there will be no let-up in training, because other journalists will have the chance of proving their aptitude for the new toy; they will get their baptism under actual service conditions.

What then can our viewers expect from us? There will be the news of the day together with newsreels, and on Sunday a half-hour news magazine. The will be presented by announcers in vision. They will usher in films, graphs, maps, still photographs and studio interviews with people in the news – all extremely effective ways of bringing the day’s events to life. Our newsreel and magazine programmes will be entirely on film with commentary in the background to guide them along.

The merits of having the announcer actually appearing has long been a thorny issue. The BBC, for instance, feared at first that the announcer might become a "personality" and so perhaps make the news less authoritative. The initial compromise tried out in London was the announcer reading his script with the aid of a tele-prompter, an ingenious gadget which enabled him to speak without looking down at the desk in front of him. The typescript was enlarged and flashed on a small screen, and the announcer himself dictated the speed merely by pressing an electric button with his foot. However, everyone felt a bit uneasy about the whole thing. It was obvious that a man simply could not keep in his mind all the information he was giving with such unruffled fluency. It looked, and was, unnatural and phoney. The doubts were clinched one memorable evening when the paper clogged in the tele-prompter. The smooth flow of words ceased abruptly and the announcer was left floundering and helpless. Since then, the news has been read direct from the script. The announcer memorises what he can and glances down at the bulletin to fill in the gaps. News announcers are now regular evening visitors to the lounge-rooms of millions of homes in Britain. The impartiality of the news certainly hasn’t suffered, and the announcers do not "project" themselves unduly as persons. It’s worth noting, perhaps, that among the familiar news-readers on the BBC’s TV News is Wallace Greensdale, who is equally well-known as the compere of the Goon Show.

The ABC goes into its new venture with a tremendous advantage up its sleeve – its own tried and comprehensive news-gathering service, which is unique and envied in the world of broadcasting. As well as this solid backing, we have our own cine-cameramen. We can also call upon our camera ‘correspondents’ at dozens of important centres throughout Australia. To ensure a truly universal coverage we will have at our disposal the United Press and Movietone Services, together with exchange agreements with important TV organisations in Britain, the Continent, the United States and Canada.

This continuous flow of news film will be handled by ABC journalists and film editors before our producers put the programmes on the air. There will be new stresses and new pressures and remorseless deadlines to combat. But the need for all our writers, cameramen and technicians to pool their skills will never lessen so long as newsmen and television come to grips. Taken singly, they aim to inform and to illustrate. Blend them and you have the challenge of TV news.

RADIO-ACTIVE, November 15, 1956 – Page 12 & 13