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benman94 08-12-2017 08:38 PM

Best commercially available examples of TK-41 color?
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.

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


Originally Posted by Eric H (Post 3188011)
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:
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:
There are also various more selective single DVD's.

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.

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

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.

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
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:

Low-quality version of the same program here:

etype2 08-13-2017 07:43 AM

Here is a clip from 1966 taken with a TK-41.

The AndyWilliam shows looked pretty good also.

From 1966:

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.

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 (, I believe the 1965 CBS Cinderella was also from the tail end of the TK-41 usage at CBS.

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.

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