NotesThe Richmond Hill (RHL) video mixer was originally ordered and used by the Video Tape Corporation in Sydney from 1969 - 1982. the following is a description by an employee of that company of its activities and in particular the operation of the RHL.
The RHL Vision Mixer was originally installed in 1969 at Video-Tape Corporation in Eastern Valley Way (East Roseville). VTC was Australia's first fully capable electronic colour video production facility - intending to pre-empt the launch of Colour TV in Australia - unfortunately the government delayed the start until 1975 - so VTC was caught - but still very successful.
Many of the campaigns produced were watersheds at their time, with Senior Technical Directors like Ed Button, Ian Peitsch, Brian Hicks and others making the equipment perform what were at the time - 'miracles'. Many of the productions were award winners both in Australia and overseas.
I joined VTC in 1975, as a Technician, and eventually left as a Senior Special Effects Editor in 1987 (after several earlier depart/return cycles). It was originally installed in the studio production 'gallery', with the dual tasks of switching live from the studio floor, and later to 'mix down' from edited A-B rolls to a final master. This was all performed on 2-inch tape - initially without time code assistance. An Ampex HS-100 videodisk was used to provide a slo-mo/ freeze facility in the production cycle.
As the company became more 'post-production' oriented, the mixer was moved 'upstairs' to be in proximity with the 2-inch VTRs (Ampex VR1200 and VR2000 models). At the same time, Three 'EECO' edit controllers were purchased to provide time code control of the VTR transports - these were very substantial TTL 'computers' that allowed us to cue and edit much more precisely - and repeatedly - on the cumbersome 2-inch tapes.
Unfortunately, 'timeline' control of vision mixers was still about 3 years away, so 'automatic' transitions were triggered by relay closures at the editing 'in' point.
Earlier I mentioned A-B rolls... this was a process where videotape mimicked the film industry - and the editor created a chequerboard edit on two (the A and B) 'sub masters' with overlapping footage. These reels were then played back in sync with each other, and the relevant dissolves, wipes etc could be effected manually until the director was satisfied. This in turn leads to a modification that is present on the front panel of the 'tub'... The two small switches and rotary switches - were installed to use a 'click track' for the automatic trigger of transitions.
I was involved in fitting that modification - which automated the AB compilation to a small extent - important at $1000 per hour on the rate card. From memory, the first button 'enabled' the function, while the second 'fired' a manual transition. The knobs provided control of the transition speed.
In operation, the A- (or B-) roll tape was laid with short tone bursts where a transition was supposed to start. When the tapes were played together, the tones were read by the 'click-track reader', and initiated the, transition effect. In practice, rarely were transitions in the right place, or of the same duration, so it was common to frantically flick the switches and knobs in the period between tones!
VTC was a fabulous working experience, and there is an honour roll far too long to mention here. The atmosphere was very creative - which was lost in the 80's as bean counters took over the profitable business of television production.
The unit you have on display was used in a 'second' suite for some years (until around 1980?) when a new three-mix/effects unit (also RHL) was purchased. In very fast succession, we also purchased a 'CDL' (Central Dynamics Limited), a 'Ross', and 'Grass Valley' vision mixers to handle expansion and increased functionality.
There was also significant expansion in the VTR department too - with more 2-inch machines (RCA), then 1-inch A-format (Ampex VPR-1), and then C-format (Ampex VPR-1C, VPR-80 and VPR-3), followed by analog Betacam machines from Sony. (What a dream - being able to freeze on tape !)
In line with these developments, VTC also moved forward with timecode editing - initially with a CMX-300, then 340, and 3400 editing systems.
When I left in 1987, I was using CMX-3400, GVG-300/3ME, Ampex ADO, and all sorts of VTRs in commercial and other production. IN all each of the editors would create six or more separate masters in a typical day - so spread over about 6 years in the hot seat amounts to some 7000+ edited masters ! (And I still watch TV!)
While not specifically working in the studio (I can refer you to someone who was)...We also had an Ikegami ('handy-looky') HL-33, one of Sydney's first portable/backpack broadcast colour cameras, as well as an Ampex VR-1000 'portable' 2-inch VTR with air-bearings and vacuum guides!). Studio cameras were initially Marconi Mk.VII, later complemented with Philips and Ikegami EC-35 - providing 'electronic cinematography'.
Film-to-tape transfers were performed with a Marconi Mk.VII (photoconductive) telecine (really awful quality!), followed by Australia's first Rank Cintel Mk3 'flying-spot' film scanner (serial number 5 or 7 from memory).
Audio facilities were initially a small mix down studio based on a Neve desk and 2-track ATRs. This was upgraded with a 3M 8-track, and eventually moved to second fiddle - when a larger Neve desk, and 16-track ATR were installed.
There are so many little nuggets of detail that come back to me as I write this, and so many experiences with the household names of Australian and international media - from Harry Secombe to Ita Buttrose! I suppose I have wandered enough for now - but please feel free to ask if there is anything else I can add. (Michael Coop, Wheelers Hill, VIC, recieved Tues, 29/01/2002)
It was subsequently used by Stephen Jones' company "Heuistic Video" from 1983 - 1988.
The Richmond Hill video mixer was originally purchased by the "Video Tape Corporation", Sydney in 1969 and used until 1982. Stephen Jones company Heuistic Video owned it from 1983 until 1988. It remained in the private ownership of Stephen Jones up until it was offered to the museum.