View Full Version : Best commercially available examples of TK-41 color?


benman94
08-12-2017, 08:38 PM
The title pretty much says it all...

What are the best examples of TK-40A and TK-41 color available on DVD and/or BluRay?

Eric H
08-12-2017, 09:18 PM
Tough question, most shows from that era were shot on film, the ones that's weren't, like the Evening with Fred Astaire or Dinah Shore aren't on DVD, at least not in their color videotape versions.
Variety shows are hard to get on Home Video, probably because of copyright issues.

I think the 1960 version of Peter Pan is on DVD though, I think it was shot with a TK-41.

old_tv_nut
08-12-2017, 10:06 PM
Best is hard to say. The earlier it is, the noisier it is, due to improvements in both the TK-41 and videotape. Some transfers to DVD, such as the early Bell Telephone Hour, have had very strong noise reduction applied, resulting in a misrepresentation of the noise and video smear of the camera/tape. And of course, very noisy material does not code well in MPEG, which has its own effect on the texture of the noise.

As to color itself, disregarding other aspects of quality, some of the best I have seen is the fragment of tape remaining from the RCA exhibit at the New York World's Fair, though of course it's only on Youtube, not on a DVD.

http://www.videokarma.org/showthread.php?t=257935&highlight=world%27s+fair

The color on commercial DVD's is always suspect because you don't know how much "correction" was applied when the transfer was made.

old_tv_nut
08-12-2017, 10:32 PM
Tough question, most shows from that era were shot on film, the ones that's weren't, like the Evening with Fred Astaire or Dinah Shore aren't on DVD, at least not in their color videotape versions.
Variety shows are hard to get on Home Video, probably because of copyright issues.

I think the 1960 version of Peter Pan is on DVD though, I think it was shot with a TK-41.

No color cameras other than TK-41's were available in 1960.

benman94
08-12-2017, 10:39 PM
I guess I'll open my question up to be a bit more general then:

What material exists on DVD/BluRay that is positively from a TK-41, image quality and MPEG-2 artifacts be damned?

old_tv_nut
08-12-2017, 11:27 PM
The 1960 Peter Pan:
https://smile.amazon.com/Peter-Pan-Starring-Mary-Martin/dp/B00361EWJA/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1502594281&sr=1-2&keywords=Peter+Pan+mary+martin+color
Note that Amazon sells a version that is a copy of the commercial pressed DVD on DVD-R media. You may be able to find a used commercial version. Also caution not to order the 1955 version, which is a monochrome kinescope.

I think all of Dean Martin's shows used TK-41s.
Here's a big collection I have:
https://smile.amazon.com/Best-Dean-Martin-Variety-Show/dp/B0090SVD9A/ref=sr_1_3?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1502594051&sr=1-3&keywords=best+of+dean+martin+variety+show+dvd
There are also various more selective single DVD's.

Bell Telephone hour:
https://smile.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dmovies-tv&field-keywords=bell+telephone+hour
Note that each of these has been compiled of segments of multiple programs, based on a particular star or other theme. I don't think I have seen any DVD's representing a single complete program. As I mentioned above, some of these are the worst examples of either noise or over-zealous noise reduction, or both.

Eric H
08-12-2017, 11:32 PM
Some Bozo the Clown was shot on a TK like this 1966 clip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRLPW8RlUvE

What's not clear is if the Bozo DVD's that are available are from this era/area.

https://www.amazon.com/Bozo-Worlds-Most-Famous-Clown/dp/B000P1KPGI/ref=pd_sbs_74_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B000P1KPGI&pd_rd_r=5EDKWMJDCD9AKA9D82T2&pd_rd_w=5wm4p&pd_rd_wg=pn5bh&psc=1&refRID=5EDKWMJDCD9AKA9D82T2

old_tv_nut
08-13-2017, 12:10 AM
I wrote a paper in 2008 on the color performance of the TK-41, including not only the hue and saturation errors, but the tonal rendition due to the limitations of gamma correction.

http://www.bretl.com/viewing1950scolor.htm

There is much more than I can summarize here, so I suggest you download it and take some time reading, but some things worth noting are:

1) The camera spectral response was carefully tweaked to match the NTSC phosphors. An incorrect green response in the early prototypes (October 1949) caused flesh tones to be too red-orange (and yellows to be orangish), which contributed to comments at the time that the RCA system color was not right.

In November 1949, they had corrected the green trim filters, and the resulting response was very close to correct. This spectral response was maintained from that time forward until the flat dichroic mirror optics and narrow trim filters were replaced by dichroic prisms in the early 60s. While the prism optics spectral curves were much wider (and therefore more efficient), they still matched the NTSC phosphors very closely. It is interesting to note that Technicolor film cameras had gone through a similar evolution from more lossy filters to dichroic prisms in the late 1940s.

I see variations in flesh tones on some of these DVDs (even differences from one Dean Martin clip to another) that I attribute to electrical setup of the cameras (especially the long menu of image orthicon settings) and variations in the NTSC signal as it passed through the less than perfectly stable video distribution amps of the day.

2) It was not possible to fully correct for the CRT gamma, because the shadow noise would become unbearable. As a result, the TK-41 pictures as displayed on a low contrast color CRT of the time lost most detail and color saturation in the shadows. Also, the rendition of the midtones was overly contrasty, resulting in the need for rather flat lighting, careful exposure, and controlling the contrast range of the studio set. Another interesting comparison is that Technicolor was a similarly contrasty process, requiring similar control of scene contrast, but it had the advantage of showing dense prints in a darkened room, so shadow detail could still be seen, while the contrast compensated for the color appearance effects of bright projected pictures with a dark surround.

ceebee23
08-13-2017, 02:57 AM
Does make one wonder what the pictures looked like on the sets of the ... live programs such as football etc.

And I do wonder what the few CBS color system programs looked in terms of color reproduction but that is another topic.

tornadoman
08-13-2017, 06:10 AM
The Howdy Doody Show- 40 Episode Collection Box Set
https://www.amazon.com/Howdy-Doody-Show-Episode-Collection/dp/B001EWVANE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1502618688&sr=8-2&keywords=howdy+doody
On the Bonus Disc of this set is the complete last episode from 1960. Really good quality transfer including NBC peacock at the beginning.

Also available in a single (out-of-print) DVD: https://www.amazon.com/Howdy-Doody-Show-Clarabell-Episodes/dp/B000056N9F/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502645860&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=howdy+doody+clarabelle+speaks


Low-quality version of the same program here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd1nSzxjxV8

etype2
08-13-2017, 07:43 AM
Here is a clip from 1966 taken with a TK-41.
https://youtu.be/KF_9wRVnazQ

The AndyWilliam shows looked pretty good also.

From 1966: https://youtu.be/pFb2qZfmh4M

tornadoman
08-13-2017, 07:56 AM
Yep, forgot about that Andy Williams DVD set. It has TK-41-shot excerpts from various episodes, including the Christmas specials.
https://www.amazon.com/Andy-Williams-Collection/dp/B0041LATEQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1502625199&sr=1-1&keywords=andy+williams+show

etype2
08-13-2017, 08:17 AM
I got to see that 1966 Christmas special live. Bought our first color set, (RCA) in August 1966. Remembered the Andy Williams shows as particularly good for the time.

tornadoman
08-13-2017, 08:26 AM
In reading a previous thread (http://www.videokarma.org/archive/index.php/t-255007.html), I believe the 1965 CBS Cinderella was also from the tail end of the TK-41 usage at CBS.
https://www.amazon.com/Rodgers-Hammersteins-Cinderella-Ginger-Rogers/dp/B00JHH1ZN8/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_15_t_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=Y73Z3N3GMWDTND7RKR99

jmdocs
08-13-2017, 04:11 PM
Elvis Presley's 1968 "comeback" special (a/k/a" "Singer Presents Elvis), which looks terrific. Petula Clark's special ("Petula") from earlier that year and the same producers also looks terrific on its DVD. The Tennessee Ernie Ford estate (I think) put out a series of DVDs of his shows for a short time, several from 1960-61. Not 100% great quality on the discs (some compression artifacting) but they contain the Peacock, the commercials, and even the telops at the end ("Joe E. Brown is the ringmaster for the Timex All Star Circus, Saturday, in color...") They are worth tracking down. There is a recent official release of Bob Hope specials, which include some of the color episodes that started in 1965. The earliest really good color videotape that's been commercially released is the 1960 "Howdy Doody" that's been mentioned. The "Bell Telephone Hour" DVDs are of wildly varying quality, but contain some material dating to 1959, which is pretty awesome.

jsowers
08-13-2017, 11:30 PM
Here is one that looks pretty good in the YouTube clips, Esther Williams in Cypress Gardens, from 8-8-60. Some of it is color film, but the parts with Esther, Fernando Lamas and Joey Bishop look to be color videotape. Hugh Downs does a beer commercial that's very good too. To quote a Billy Crystal line when he did Fernando, they "look marvelous." It looks like most of it was shot outside. The second clip is longer and has several musical numbers and the first one starts with the NBC peacock.

Here are some clips...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvq-Y-HQ17o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=913eJIf1nGg

And here is where you can get this color special and many others. The Film Collectors Society of America. It's $14.99 plus shipping.

http://www.thefilmcsa.com/esther-williams-at-cypress-gardens.html

Here is their listing of TV specials and many date to the 1960-65 era. It's a treasure trove of stuff and many things I've never heard of before. I have no experience buying any of their offerings so proceed at your own risk. But just looking through their catalog is like stepping back in time for me.

http://www.thefilmcsa.com/tv.html

old_tv_nut
08-13-2017, 11:55 PM
Here is one that looks pretty good in the YouTube clips, Esther Williams in Cypress Gardens, from 8-8-60.

I agree that the talent shots seem to be live camera to tape, but I wouldn't call any of this even "pretty" good. The video response is awful, blurred and with ringing on the edges (probably from too many generations of different tape formats would be my guess), the hue changes drastically from near normal to yellow/greenish faces later on, and the MPEG coding has significant I-frame pulsing and detail artifact twitching, and appears to be down-rez'd too far, although it's hard to tell since the original video response is so bad. The only positive thing to note is that any noise in the source has been removed in all these generations of processing.

jmdocs
08-14-2017, 03:24 PM
One other oddity that showed up on "legit" DVD a while back: "The Shirley Temple Show", a/k/a "Shirley Temple's Storybook." The transfers were very good, and most were shot on color tape in 1960. The shows themselves...pretty terrible.

Steve D.
08-14-2017, 04:09 PM
No color cameras other than TK-41's were available in 1960.


GE was still in the broadcast equipment business in the 60's & 70's This included a line of color cameras. Here is a GE color camera photographed in the late 1970's.

benman94
08-15-2017, 01:42 PM
Thanks all for the replies. I'm going to see if I can't get in touch with Dan Wingate, the fellow that restored an Eddie Fisher color kine, a Dinah Shore color kine, and the filmed color Burns and Allen program from 1954. I have a project I'm working on that could benefit from nice examples of very early color footage.

oldtvman
09-21-2017, 01:08 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUTKl_z9474

mr_rye89
09-22-2017, 08:58 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUTKl_z9474

That's amazing. very crisp video and the color fidelity is good, and the flesh tones look right on.

Hawkwind
09-24-2017, 07:45 AM
https://archive.org/details/SteveAllenPlymouthShow

"An episode of "The Steve Allen Plymouth Show". Unfortunately there is a time-code on this copy. Complete with original commercials for Plymouth, but credits are missing. A variety show, with performers including Frankie Laine, Jack Kerouac, Pam Garner, William Bendix, Dayton Allen, and Gabriel Dell."

oldtvman
09-24-2017, 11:50 AM
Does make one wonder what the pictures looked like on the sets of the ... live programs such as football etc.

And I do wonder what the few CBS color system programs looked in terms of color reproduction but that is another topic.

I don't have to wonder I was a witness to it all.

tornadoman
11-06-2017, 05:51 AM
Came across another, more obscure, Bell Telephone Hour DVD, (doesn't mention Bell Telephone in the title on Amazon). It's a compilation of the Christmas shows they did over the years, including some 1959 footage as well. Great choice as we head closer to the Holidays.

https://www.amazon.com/Old-Fashioned-Christmas-Florence-Henderson/dp/B002TZS59C/ref=tmm_dvd_title_1?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nn2qKQev__E

benman94
11-19-2017, 12:35 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBe0qy5k8vk

This is the 1959 television version of "The Jazz Singer". I'm assuming this would be TK-41 color. A restored version is available on DVD.

old_tv_nut
11-19-2017, 02:26 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBe0qy5k8vk

This is the 1959 television version of "The Jazz Singer". I'm assuming this would be TK-41 color. A restored version is available on DVD.

Definitely TK-41. You can tell by the facial tones (effects of gamma correction).

Eric H
11-19-2017, 04:06 PM
I wonder how the image from a 1950's Videotape compares to the image that would have been seen from a live broadcast?

It seems there's no real way to know this since all the existing TK-41 footage is from tape.

benman94
11-19-2017, 04:18 PM
I wonder how the image from a 1950's Videotape compares to the image that would have been seen from a live broadcast?

It seems there's no real way to know this since all the existing TK-41 footage is from tape.

My guess is that the tape looks substantially better than what would have been seen by most people.

Say the show originated in Los Angeles, and was being picked up by a viewer watching WWJ-TV in Detroit on a color roundie. The picture would have been sent via microwave links and coaxial cable from LA to Detroit, then the signal would have been re-broadcast locally, picked up at the viewer's antenna, pass through the RF/IF strips and finally been demodulated and displayed on the color kinescope. There is a greater number of variables involved in a live broadcast as opposed to tape, where the signal would have been simply recorded onto quad tape in LA. Pretty easy, and much less room for signal degradation.

I'd be curious to know what video from the ETF's TK-41 will look like. If the feed from the TK-41 at the ETF is recorded onto a medium that allows you to exceed broadcast spec, it would allow us to see what our roundies could have done under the best possible circumstances with video from a TK-41; the circuitry of the set becomes the more limiting factor as opposed to decades old 3M tape. That will be interesting to say the least...

Dave A
11-19-2017, 07:00 PM
The LA show would have gone to NYC first to insert network commercials (live, tape, kine, slides, balops, announcers) and returned to Detroit and the full network all the way back to LA.

benman94
11-19-2017, 07:11 PM
The LA show would have gone to NYC first to insert network commercials (live, tape, kine, slides, balops, announcers) and returned to Detroit and the full network all the way back to LA.

That's even worse than I imagined... Why on earth would they choose to do it that way? Wouldn't it have made more sense to just do the commercials on the West Coast?

Dave A
11-19-2017, 08:04 PM
Color was just an improvement on the existing BW network going from NYC west as it was built after the war but it was not a NBC/RCA/CBS/ABC/Dumont network. It was the monopoly of AT&T Long Lines and all of their charges for transmission to the local stations. Coaxial at first and then microwave along with improvements to local stations on the net to pass color.

Why build two network controls when one would do? It was analog, proc amps all along the path to keep the signal good and NYC had all the resources for the full network. And ad agency contracted announcers for any given refrigerator commercial could not be on both coasts. These were the day when ad agencies ruled. No need to keep a second crop of announcers, staff, studios, film, stagehands, et al in LA. Just use two one way paths. NYC was the center of the universe.

LA was perfect for talent, studios and shows going east then back west. Let NYC do the heavy lifting going west.

When I got in to broadcasting in 1970, AT&T was still pretty much the same one-way system. NFL on Sunday via CBS was an adventure to get on the air with early and late games. There was a closed-circuit AT&T show on Fridays on CBS after the afternoon soaps with a bunch of engineer types with thin black ties documenting all the switches and patches that needed to be made for any Sunday for the markets and time zones.

Electronic M
11-19-2017, 09:12 PM
There are some very interesting wikis on telco multiplexer/de-multipexers and tech going back to the beginning. It is fascinating how many calls they could fit down the same line with the Network video link, how many they could without video, other services that most consumers never saw (directly) etc.

They had to develop IIRC phase delay equalizers to compensate for color distortion from the long lines transport.

old_tv_nut
11-19-2017, 09:32 PM
In terms of how much tape itself degraded the TK-41 output, I would say that a keen eye can differentiate which degradations come from where. The main TK-41 limitation was signal to noise ratio. Tape could contribute things like moire patterns in high chroma areas (on the low-band machines), or head banding when the four individual heads did not match, which could show up as hue shifts or differences in SNR, but would be identifiable by the different bands in the picture. Other tape issues could be edge effects like ringing or overshoots due to the sharp filters in the tape machines.

Most of the degradations you see on youtube come from multiple generations of other tape formats through which the material has come down to us, and/or digital artifacts due to insufficient bit rate.