Meeting Report - Feb 17, 2009

The Hollywood Section’s February 17th meeting entitled "Remembering Analog Television" was held at the Motion Picture Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater. More than 75 people attended from both SMPTE and the Society of Television Engineers (STE), who co-sponsored the evening.

The evening began with a pre-show reception in the theater’s lobby, with food sponsored by Film Technology Co., Inc. Also on display were several early 1950s television sets that have been rebuilt by Ralph Sargent, Life Member of SMPTE and president of Film Technology. Mr. Sargent had additionally created a comprehensive poster panel display of the early history of analog television.   The program started with an excerpt from a 1939 Warner Bros. Mechanix Illustrated short subject entitled "Radio Finds its Eyes". This gave a quick overview of what audiences could expect in the future of television, 1930s-1940s style.

After some announcements from chair Paul Chapman, the program was turned over to Chris Bone, president of STE. He, in turn, introduced the speakers. First was John Silva, who spoke of his experiences in the first days of TV at station KTLA, including anecdotes from directing the Lawrence Welk Show?  He was followed by James Mendrala, who, among other things, told of adjusting the color phase of his TV station by telephone with one of their viewers watching her color TV, as the station at that time did not have a vectorscope to make the necessary settings.

Next up was Jim Smith, formerly of NBC. He told of the development of this network, and his time in engineering and operations. He also relayed some of the experiences of another ex NBC engineer Craig Curtis, who started at NBC in 1946. The last of the speakers was Don McCroskey, formerly with ABC Television. Don gave a comprehensive rundown of the evolution of TV stations in Los Angeles, which included some history of the building in which we were holding this meeting. It was the first building in Los Angeles specifically constructed as a TV studio.

After this, the speakers, together with Mr. Sargent, held a panel to answer questions from the audience. This brought up a few more interesting anecdotes, including the KTLA broadcast of an early atomic bomb test.  All of the presenters illustrated their talks with many fine pictures of the period.

The evening concluded with the 1934 film short "What, No Men?" using a new 35mm print made by YCM Laboratory from the original 3-strip Technicolor negatives.

Richard P. May – Past Chair
Ralph Sargent – Past Manager
Paul Chapman - Chair