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[#] Mon Nov 23 2015 13:46:22 EST from IGnatius T Foobar

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For those of you who might pine to see MST-3000, you can find a
Kickstarter page for it here:


Everyone give megabucks to this KS campaign.

It's already reached its $2M goal for production of a three-episode run, but with more funding it could be up to 12.

[#] Sat Jan 02 2016 03:30:22 EST from ax25

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Thanks for supporting a former resident of Hopkins Minnesota.  Here is a raspberry for you:


rberry.jpg (image/jpeg, 52261 bytes) [ View | Download ]
[#] Sat Jan 02 2016 18:02:14 EST from IGnatius T Foobar

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The kickstarter was a big success.  They totally blew away every fundraising goal and then some, raising more than six million dollars.  There will be 14 new episodes and also a Christmas special.  Not only does this mean we get the new season, but it also sends a message to the television executives they're courting, telling them that there really is demand to keep this great show going.

[#] Mon Jan 04 2016 22:53:43 EST from ax25

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Agreed, "We've got movie sign!".

[#] Wed Jan 06 2016 12:44:09 EST from vince-q

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In the slight off-chance that someone reading this just might be interested in streaming network tv in realtime for free from a legitimate source, have a look at:

They have a fairly good web interface but, even better, they have a ROKU app.

It's completely free if all you want to do is watch in real-time. If you want to record, you have to pay for their "cloud"-based "DVR" service which works well. AND... it can be used on any three different ROKU devices, anywhere on the internet, simultaneously.

In my ever humble (and usually right) opinion THIS is the wave of the future in TV watching/recording. It is also the beginning of the well-deserved demise of cable and satellite providers, all of which suck the big one.

[#] Wed Jan 06 2016 16:58:00 EST from zooer

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or to get channels you might want to watch: $19.00 after 3 months $29.00 / month)   But yea "free" for seven channels. 

[#] Fri Jan 08 2016 07:29:51 EST from IGnatius T Foobar

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Television delivered over the Internet ... whodathunkit :)

Regardless of the distribution method, I still want to get to a point where we can just subscribe to the channels we want instead of buying them as "packages."
I hate spending $6 every month on ESPN (that's what they charge providers) when I don't watch sportsball on television, ever.

My wife watches the Hallmark Channel. I keep telling her she's probably the only person under 70 in their audience.

[#] Fri Jan 08 2016 12:08:26 EST from fleeb

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Well, if she complains about the captioning on Hallmark, I know a little about what goes on with it, heh.

[#] Thu Jan 14 2016 09:15:57 EST from IGnatius T Foobar

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The latest news is that "Al Jazeera America" is shutting down. The network will cease operations on April 30.

But, if you want to keep receiving anti-Western jihadi propaganda, there's always the White House Twitter feed.

[#] Thu Jan 14 2016 10:54:07 EST from zooer

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[#] Fri Jan 15 2016 07:15:08 EST from fleeb

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Oh, shit... really?

Well. Damn. I guess that's yet another customer XOrbit loses.

[#] Mon Jul 11 2016 10:44:51 EDT from zooer

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I miss the days of Electro-mechanical devices. I have always enjoyed watching them, seeing how they worked, and thought about all the work that went into designing them.

Before everything was stored digitally on a server, TV commercials were played from videotape.  Years ago someone came up with the idea of trying to automate the process.  In the following videos there are examples.  I had always seen/used Sony's model but the idea is the same.  The machine in the video is one of the last models before they moved to digital.

I will try to explain what is going on.  At the top center of the video there are the VTRs (Video Tape Players) There were four or five VTRs with one being a backup unit.  The machine is finding the video tapes it needs to play, grabbing it, and putting it in a tape player.  The system then plays the tape when it needs to.  The tape player ejects the tape, the machine grabs it, puts it back in storage and grabs another tape.  At the end you see it put tapes to the side and a door spins.  This is how new tapes were added and no longer needed tapes were removed.
Before digital this is what was happening during a commercial break. At the end of the video there is some sort of sampled audio, I have no idea what that means.  It ruined the coolness of the video.

Here is an example of a much older model, (1970s?) it only loads two tapes at a time.  That is a two inch thick video tape was and I like how far it had to unroll in order to play the tape. (Your VHS took the tape out similar way)  I have seen the cartridges but not the machine. This video is PURE 70s cheezy style promo video.

If no one else enjoys these videos, Mr. Foobar will.

[#] Wed Jul 13 2016 10:52:48 EDT from IGnatius T Foobar

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Those are fantastic! That first video looks like it's actually running a demonstration program -- no tape stayed in a VTR long enough to actually play anything. Do/did you work in the broadcast industry?

When I was learning the biz in the early 1990's, small facilities would dream of the day when they could afford "1 inch" tape. In high school we used VHS (or as it was called in the industry, "half inch") but in college and in my internship at AT&T Microelectronics we used U-Matic SP (or "3/4 inch").

It is kind of sad that everything just sits on a motionless computer now.

[#] Wed Jul 13 2016 19:37:54 EDT from zooer

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Yes, I worked at a few stations.  I thought we discussed it before after you mentioned you did some TV work. (real men don't pre-view their edits) If you noticed the machine also re-arranged some tapes for quicker accesses later. It was designed well enough to put tapes close to machines that would be open at a later time.  Advanced planning.

The system I first saw was called the Sony BetaCart, holding about 40 five/ten minute betaSP tapes. Same basic idea, tape storage, tape transport and side loading VTPs Came with the operators keyboard computer and a "cool" bar code label maker for the machine to read the bar coes on the tapes.  It play back system went down once.... when it did, all hands on deck and a lot of shouting during a commercial break.  I also saw the all digital system freeze once as well. (1998/99)

I worked on a digital Odetics system that could fire off tape decks.  It was in a master control of the cable company I worked for.  I wasn't impressed with this.

I saw another video, one of the first non-linear editors, from 1971!  I didn't think that technology was that old.  This was different though, it stored low quality audio and B&W video on the refrigerator size hard drives.  The editor edited with a light pen, there was an edit list but no time line.  Two monitors, a preview and program monitor.  When the final product was ready the machine took the edit points stored on the non-linear editor, and that played the original tapes from VTRs, and switched all the video sources.  It wasn't pure digital like we know today.

I used an AVID in 1996/97, I was told it cost $80,000.  I remember the apple fanatic trainer was very excited that macs only had ONE button on their mice.  He was very excited about this and repeated how macs only had ONE how simple is that.  Not like those confusing two and three button mice on PCs.    It had 36 gigs of storage.  Four nine gig RAID drives.  Didn't take too long to fill nine gigs in those days.  The hard drives were so slow they needed to break the info onto three drives and the audio was stored on the forth drive.

I remember telling someone that these non-linear video editors will drop down to $250 some day. This person laughed at me.  You can get them cheaper or free on Linux.  Of course you no longer need tape decks, and related hardware.  

[#] Fri Jul 29 2016 15:28:05 EDT from the_mgt

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Interesting stuff, thanks for sharing.

There is much magic lost today, recently I showd my 6,5 year old son a video of Boston Dynamics roboter walking through the forrest, etc. He was like Gru's mom on Despicable Me: "Meh!"

I am probably a little younger than you folks are, but growing up in the 80s and 90s gave you a feel for how hard motor control can be. Today, everything is computercontrolled, digital and smooth as silk. We had to fix music tapes. Video tapes would degenerate, all the motors wore out, you had to replace rubbers, etc. Today, you only have to worry wether the battery is charged. Kind of boring.

[#] Mon Aug 22 2016 09:22:13 EDT from IGnatius T Foobar

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The kids certainly don't understand that kind of stuff. Generally they see that and think "why so complex?" as if microcontrollers and high density storage have always existed.

When I was a Mini-IG, I was absolutely fascinated when I went to a diner that had the little mini jukebox controllers on each table. When you put your quarters in, the speaker came on and you got to hear every selection that was in the queue until your selection(s) played. I of course was more interested in the infrastructure required to put such a marvel of engineering into a public place. The cables were gigantic. The central controller, if you were lucky enough to get a glimpse of it, was a massive array of relays.

It was probably a complete waste of money for those few establishments that upgraded to CD jukeboxes. Sure, they could now offer a bigger selection because of 10 tracks per disc instead of 2, but now those are obsolete too.

[#] Mon Aug 22 2016 09:28:09 EDT from IGnatius T Foobar

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A few more "massive cable" funfests:

My great-aunt was a lot like Aahz: she lived close to where she worked. She operated a business (a funeral home) on the main level of a fairly large house, and her living quarters were on the upper level. Some time in the late 1960's, she had a 1A2 Key Telephone System installed, so she could access both her home and business lines from three different locations in the house.
50 conductor cables to each phone, and a massive relay system in the basement.
I loved that.

And of course when I was in high school and college we still needed massive cables to connect each television camera back to its CCU. Everything analog and broken out onto its own pins. I don't know what they use today ... do they even *have* CCU's anymore?

[#] Mon Aug 22 2016 12:00:42 EDT from zooer

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I am sure Camera Control Units are still used.  Even though the NTSC (Never The Same Color) has been updated no two pieces of equipment is ever the same.  I bet the cameras still have to be tweaked.  I will ask a few friends, but like many of us, we have gotten out of the field.


[#] Mon Aug 22 2016 14:18:59 EDT from zooer

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I texted a buddy of mine, he suffers from CRS. (Can't Remember Shit)  He said his last few years at the TV station he worked IT and not production but he thought they still white balanced cameras.  He has bad memories of the TV station and is trying to forget as much as possible.

We also discussed the thickness of the camera cable.  There is a lot to a camera cable.  It used to have a lot more signals and I am sure digital has simplified all of that.  The camera's view finder could have several video sources.  The camera's lens which wouldn't need a cable, at least one video feed back from the control room.  Usually a program feed, we would send the video from one of the mixers on the switcher so the camera person could line up the box over the anchor's shoulder.  The camera cable needs to handle video for the teleprompter and any communications between the camera op and the control room.  I think the cable is probably still thick but not as think as it once was.

[#] Thu Aug 25 2016 15:19:48 EDT from zooer

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For the Americans here, a little insider not so secret secret. While watching the Today show Willard Scott, Al Roker always says, "And here is what is going on in your neck of the woods."  That wasn't just a catch phrase.  Back in the days when things were run from video tape, and the video tape had to get up to speed, that was an IMPORTANT cue for the local station to roll the locally inserted 30 second weather break.  "and here is what is going..." (roll tape) " on in your neck of the woods." Switch from network to local and take video tape.  That phrase was network telling the locals to roll their tape without saying "roll that beautiful bean footage."

If Al Rocker messed up, if there was a guest weather person and they messed that phrase up, the whole 30 second break was off for both local and network.  It wasn't a friendly funny phrase, it was a network cue. 
Now with digital and instant video it isn't as important.  Those "live" weather breaks are pre-recorded.  Two of them.  One for the top of the hour, one for the bottom, it was repeated for the second hour.  Unless weather changed, and it rarely did, we played the same two weather updates.  Once and a while we were live, but that was VERY rare.
Now you can giggle when you hear "and here is what is going on in your neck of the woods."

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