View Full Version : Fake color TVs and 1950s Hollywood


Carmine
10-22-2015, 08:59 PM
I've been watching a lot of older movies on the free subchannels (Movies!, This, Grit, and so forth). One re-occurring theme seems to be re-coloring B&W sets into color.

I can understand why they might do this on a 60's TV show (12" color security monitors on Mission Impossible? Me thinks not.) But I would think, and have heard, that movie studios hated television during the 50s. In fact, that's why they did all the wide-screen and color spectaculars... to make TV seem crappy by comparison. Yet in many of these movies, they'll show a rectangular set with a great color picture; something that didn't even exist in real life.

I wonder why. Have a look at this Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis movie. Anybody have a guess what kind of set this is? The logo looks like it could either be Magnavox or Zenith. It almost looks like a prototype set.

MRX37
10-22-2015, 09:05 PM
Dude its like inception. I'm looking at a TV inside another TV.

Really they probably did it because they shot the film they planned to super impose over the TV screen in color and couldn't be bothered to make it black and white or use black and white film.

Or they were going for the whole "20 minutes into the future" look.

Carmine
10-22-2015, 09:14 PM
I suppose that photo at least proves that I only have vintage sets in my house. :D

Too lazy to shoot in B&W... Yeah, I suppose that's possible.

Link that some people here might find interesting about the studios fear of color TV until Disney "broke ranks"....

http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/25023.html

MRX37
10-22-2015, 09:30 PM
BTW you're in my area. What are you picking up for sub channels these days? I just have this, this, and this...

http://i.imgur.com/OpfIDaa.jpg

vts1134
10-22-2015, 09:38 PM
BTW you're in my area. What are you picking up for sub channels these days? I just have this, this, and this...


:lmao:

Jeffhs
10-22-2015, 10:57 PM
The TV looks like a Zenith, from the vertical channel display window and the words "Zenith Space Command" (barely visible in the photo). It almost has to be Zenith, IMO, since I'm sure the original Zenith Radio Corporation had ironclad patents on the designs of its TVs until they sold out to foreign interests in the late '80s-early '90s.

For MRX37 in the Detroit area: You should be getting several more DTV subchannels besides ThisTV, as the Detroit market is quite large. I live 30+ miles east of Cleveland and get MeTV (subchannel of CBS channel 19), Antenna TV (subchannel of FOX channel 8), COZI TV (subchannel of ABC channel 5), as well as THIStv as a subchannel of MyTV channel 43 and Movies! as a subchannel of CW network affiliate channel 55. I am almost sure your area's network stations must carry these subchannels and probably others, since the Detroit market is much larger than Cleveland (the latter includes two other smaller cities besides, each with their own TV stations). I'll take a look at the TV Guide listings for the Detroit area after I write this; I'll be surprised if I find only one station with a DTV subchannel since, again, this doesn't seem right in such a large TV market.

BTW, I got a heck of a laugh out of your post in which you said, "I only get this, and this, and this...", showing pictures of three TVs, each tuned to the Detroit area's THIS TV affiliate. :D

MRX37
10-22-2015, 11:18 PM
Yeah I meant it as a joke. I actually get a lot more channels then this

consoleguy67
10-23-2015, 05:51 AM
The set could very likely be a Magnavox. Jerry and Dean used to do print advertisements for them.

earlyfilm
10-23-2015, 06:55 AM
Too lazy to shoot in B&W... Yeah, I suppose that's possible.

Link that some people here might find interesting about the studios fear of color TV until Disney "broke ranks"....

http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/25023.html

I take some minor issues with your link's conclusion.

When Walt Disney conceived Disneyland, his studio was funded by the profits of the last feature funding the next feature. When he decided to build Disneyland, Walt suddenly realized that he needed a reliable source of additional funding. He went to both NBC and CBS and both of them were not interested. Du Mont was distributing primarily on film and was losing money and was not open to new deals.

In desperation Walt finally went to ABC, which at the moment had low cost shows that were turning a small profit, but the network had the least number of stations of the four networks. ABC invested and partially funded Disneyland to get the Disney hour program, to use that as a hook to draw more stations into their network and it worked very well.

ABC's network had been developed to be compatible with color and the expense of a color film chain on the East coast would not have been prohibitive. Still Disney wanted the larger audience and despite the fact that they had helped to start his theme park business, ABC was completely shut out by Disney and not even given a chance to bid on the new color series.

Another example, happened in 1960 (from memory, I may be off a year or so), when Jack Parr walked off his NBC B&W show, and his replacement tanked. Jack came back a short while later, but by then WSB the NBC affiliate in Atlanta had replaced his show with an expensive new feature film package. WSB could not afford to put that expensive package on the shelf and let it expire, so they chose to not pickup Jack Parr, so Crosley station WLW-A, the ABC affiliate, whose movie packages were rather long in the tooth, grabbed Jack Parr. Several weeks before the show was set to start, WLW-A ran "10 second teaser shared ID promos that said "Jack's Back and in color, too!" The promos were in B&W (they had no local color film chain), and the public started screaming. WLW-A had already purchased the necessary equipment to transmit remotely-originated color, and this reaction was completely unexpected.

The solution was for WLW-A to buy some production time at WSB and produce a few video tape promos for the show in color from the NBC source material, which they could run in color without problems, and do a voice over for the latest updates. This quickly shut down the critics.

James

zeno
10-23-2015, 02:58 PM
The set is a Zenith 19" & it is a color set.
Probably a late 70' upright chassis with EFL tube
or an L -line plus gen 2 system 3.

I used to "spot" TV's & B&W sets showing color were common.
Another thing they did was tape over the brand, especially
Sonys. Always drove me nuts when a show set in the 50's
used a 70's Jap set as a prop. Lavern & Sherly had
a 12 B&W panasonic made about '75

73 Zeno:smoke:

dieseljeep
10-23-2015, 09:27 PM
The set could very likely be a Magnavox. Jerry and Dean used to do print advertisements for them.

The set shown on the Zenith color TV screen is definately a Magnavox. The Magnavox shield logo was one that they stuck over the hole, where the UHF tuner would go, on a non-UHF set. :scratch2:

old_tv_nut
10-23-2015, 10:09 PM
First of all, they did not shoot 24 frame per second film of a 60 field per second TV - the result is a terrible mess of flickering shutter bars.

Also, it is extremely difficult to get the exposure of a CRT correct with respect to the surrounding scene - you have to make the picture much closer in brightness to the surrounding light than usual, either by turning down the TV or using brighter lights in the studio; but then the TV picture gets washed out by reflected light. Normally TVs are viewed in relatively dim surround. This was especially important in the home for CRT sets, which did not have very good contrast due to reflection of room light. The eye made up for it by simultaneous contrast between the gray "blacks" and the brilliant highlights - but you couldn't photograph that successfully because the resulting film would not be able to produce the contrast range between dim room light and brilliant TV highlights. Also, the movie image would not fill the viewer's full field of vision the way a real room would, so the effect would not be the same even if the film had the same dynamic range as the original scene.

Some movies with much larger production budgets would have TVs modified to run at 24 Hz and have special video sources to drive them, but this was relatively rare. The optical effects to superimpose a picture were much more readily available. And finally, if they weren't spending the money and jumping through the hoops to use real TV pictures, they also wouldn't do any special black and white process, but just use the same color film they were using for the rest of the movie.

Carmine
10-24-2015, 08:59 AM
MRX, with a double bowtie reflector that I bought a decade+ ago at a garage sale, I get the following, and their subchannels:

2, 4, 7, 9, 20, 31, 38, 50, 56, 62.

As of a couple weeks ago, I could still get analog 42 out of Sarnia, in my basement, with just a loop on the back of my Zenith sets.

As for the rest of the thread, I understand the technical reasons for not showing actual TV broadcasts. My observation was that on the one hand, Hollywood created things like Technicolor, Panavision, Cinemascope and even 3D/surround sound to battle against the popularity of television, making it seem tiny and monchrome. Yet in their own productions, the made TV appear even better than it was, with bright rectangular color a decade before it was reality.

MRX37
10-24-2015, 10:06 AM
So no CBC 9 from Windsor I take it.

And channel 42 is still out there? Wow.

Carmine
10-24-2015, 10:38 AM
Nine is on my list. Not much worth watching anymore, but it's there.

Off the topic, but do you remember channel 78? I don't think any US licenses were granted above 70 (could be wrong). I'm 43 and have no memory of 78 beyond seeing it listed in Detroit-area listings from Canada, and knowing that my grandparents must have thought enough of it to tune it on the exact 19" varactor tuned Zenith you posted earlier.

Wish I knew the programming or could see a logo. Wonder what became of it.

MRX37
10-24-2015, 10:57 AM
Oh I missed that. I haven't picked up a hint of channel 9 since they cut off analog in Canada.

Channel 78 was way, way before my time.

In a related gripe, I hate that you have to scan for channels and can't input them manually. If it's not on the list you can't change to it. I could probably DX and find 9 if I had a DTV box that would stay on 9 and allow me to adjust my antenna!

Electronic M
10-24-2015, 12:52 PM
In a related gripe, I hate that you have to scan for channels and can't input them manually. If it's not on the list you can't change to it. I could probably DX and find 9 if I had a DTV box that would stay on 9 and allow me to adjust my antenna!

Look for older Zenith/LG/Insignia boxes. IIRC the model is DTV-900(or 901). Those have great reception and can manually tune in the menus.

Tom9589
10-24-2015, 01:41 PM
Channels 70 through 83 were turned over to the cellular telephone industry sometime in the late 90s. We had channel 69 in Atlanta and that is the highest channel number still in operation.

Hopefully channel 78 was re-located rather than have the plug pulled on it. At least that's what the FCC said they were going to do.

TVTim
10-24-2015, 07:38 PM
Lavern & Sherly had
a 12 B&W panasonic made about '75

73 Zeno:smoke:

When I watched Laverne and Shirley last week and wondered about the TV. It does look way too new for the era.

zeno
10-24-2015, 07:57 PM
Our highest UHF was 68. IIRC it started as a pay TV as was
ch 27 out of Worcester ( Zenith system) for a while.
IIRC there was an airborn UHF in the Ohio area in the 60's
that may have used channels above 69.

Missed the TV in TV & I agree its a Maggy. I dont remember
the style so was is an industrial model ??? Looks abt 1960 vintage.

73 Zeno:smoke:

Carmine
10-24-2015, 08:18 PM
Hopefully channel 78 was re-located rather than have the plug pulled on it. At least that's what the FCC said they were going to do.

Channel 78 was broadcasting from Canada, so hopefully they could tell the FCC to pound sand. Canada is still broadcasting in analog (I checked again, 42 is still on the air. I'll put a real antenna on a set and do a screen shot.)

Of course, I think 78 was long gone before the age of cell phones.

magnasonic66
10-25-2015, 11:26 AM
The TV set in the Martin-Lewis movie was a Magnavox, most or all of Dean Martin's movies had Magnavox products in them after the breakup. I'm pretty sure the Jerry Lewis picture "The Lady's Man" had a couple of Magnavox consoles in it too. "Visit to a Small Planet" from 1960 has Jerry as a being from outer space. There is a top of the line Magnavox console in the living room of a TV personality who claims there is no life in the universe but us.

Carmine
10-25-2015, 01:06 PM
I was thinking Magnavox, but hoping it might have been a Zenith prototype. I believe they mentioned a rectangular screen color set in an early 50s shareholders report. Of course we know they never sold it to the public. The control panel does look a bit like their other color prototypes.

Robert Grant
11-02-2015, 11:49 PM
CBET Windsor is still on Channel 9, though they went DTV on 9/1/2011 (IIRC). Their virtual channel is 9 and they actually transmit on 9.

CBEFT began on Channel 78 in 1976. They moved to 54 several years later (1982, IIRC). This was to make room for cellular telephone, but it also improved reception in my Eastside Detroit neighborhood. To do this, the FCC took vacant channel 54 away from Toledo to give it to Windsor, and gave channel 36 to Toledo as a replacement. CBEFT was moved again, to Channel 35, with much less power, and that did not last a year (CBC decided that if you did not live in a large city AND speak the dominant language, you'll have to pay a premium price for it).

Several American UHFs were on the higher channels in the early days of UHF. Youngstown had a channel 83, Lima a 73, and Bowling Green a 70 - all the way to the mid-1970s, when they moved to 57 (and further to 27 in the mid-1980s). The higher UHF channels proved to be "naturally unattractive". Transmitters were not as efficient, tuners had a higher noise figure, attenuation from trees (especially needleleaf) greater, and multipath worse than on the lower UHF channels.

Carmine
11-03-2015, 08:56 PM
Thanks... That's good info. I remember channel 54, mostly French language nature documentaries as I recall.

cbenham
11-22-2015, 07:08 PM
I've been watching a lot of older movies on the free subchannels (Movies!, This, Grit, and so forth). One re-occurring theme seems to be re-coloring B&W sets into color.

The best movie for seeing B&W TV equipment making GLORIOUS TECHNICOLOR PICTURES is called "My Blue Heaven." Shot in Technicolor in 1950, there are shots of RCA B&W TK-11 Studio cameras and control room equipment making great color "video" images, and even a shot of an RCA 9PC41 B&W home projection set with really nice moving color images on it.

There is another film I saw in the 1950s with similar color TV effects, so
Hollywood must have been trying to lampoon B&W TV with these films

Hawkwind
06-25-2016, 01:57 PM
Check out the movie. Will success spoil rock hunter. Lampoons television very well

cbenham
06-29-2016, 11:33 PM
Channels 70 through 83 were turned over to the cellular telephone industry sometime in the late 90s. We had channel 69 in Atlanta and that is the highest channel number still in operation.

Hopefully channel 78 was re-located rather than have the plug pulled on it. At least that's what the FCC said they were going to do.

In the mid to late 1950s a channel 82 or 83 transmitter was used to re-transmit the harbor radar images near Boston [as I recall] for small boat users. All the owners needed was a small portable B&W TV on his boat and he could see a real time radar image of the entire harbor and watch his boat and all others whether it was foggy or not. Very inexpensive way to make boating safer without having to install his own radar set on his boat.

David Roper
06-30-2016, 04:25 AM
The 21" rectangular color set that Zenith made in 1954.

(http://earlytelevision.org/pdf/zenith_rectangular_crt.pdf)

I couldn't even guess what that might sell for if it ever turned up.