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WH
what West Country (East) Points West

There was a premiere of a film scheduled on BBC 2 one Saturday in the 90s that it was announced couldn't be shown due to 'technical issues'.


Reminds me of the “Heaven Can Wait” breakdown. I’m guessing they didn’t have a backup copy of the film. Probably wouldn’t be an issue these days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjyar_pu2FI

https://cleanfeed.thetvroom.com/6518/youtube-picks/bbc-one-abandons-late-film-due-to-technical-difficulties/ discusses the issues behind that incident in detail
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IS
Inspector Sands
The explanation of the robotic/stand alone VT machines makes a bit of sense, however...


They had plenty of stand alone VT machines, over in the YouTube Gold thread there was recently a video of Andi Peters looking round their then new playout area (the NTA) and they show the programme in BBC2 playing on one.

The thing about the robotic tape machine (the MARC) could be right. I wasn't aware of programmes being played from it, only trails, but I suppose it could have been tried at one point. Yes those MARC machines (like other similar devices) did have interlocks and light beams on the moving parts to stop them when open or if any obstruction appeared inside. They were a challenge at times

There are several issues with using tape cart machines for programmes, firstly you can't do a proper technical line up of the tape/machine.

Secondly you can't take them out of remote, if you did the cart software would throw a wobbly as it thinks the machine's not there any more. However in remote of course the machine is at the mercy of both the cart software and the playout automation. When I worked in that side of things a VT machine was taken out of remote, the keypad locked and a laminate put over the keyboard as soon as it went to air so only a human going through two seperate stages could stop it

The other issue is that doing subtitles is difficult as you need to load them into the inserter on the output of the VT the programme is coming from... and the cart has a choice of 5

I can't remember if that was an issue in the NTA as the subtitle system was a bit more advanced and I think might have added subtitles downstream? It was a factor when tape playout moved to the next area (maybe even the one after that) which used Flexicarts with only two VT machines so they were never utilised to their full potential

So in summary I think there's an element of truth to the story but I think that quote is from the announcer on BBC2 that night and it's a long time ago so it might not be entirely accurate
Last edited by Inspector Sands on 31 October 2020 8:25am - 3 times in total
CO
commseng London London
As ever with a story in the public domain there will be an element of reducing it to the basic parts, as the full details will go over almost everyone's heads.

To show it was an actual technical issue is probably enough to stop some of the speculation you see on forums that there was another reason why a programme is not shown as advertised.

I just love that in the case the case the film title was so appropriate to it being shown a few days later!
IS
Inspector Sands
As ever with a story in the public domain there will be an element of reducing it to the basic parts, as the full details will go over almost everyone's heads.

To show it was an actual technical issue is probably enough to stop some of the speculation you see on forums that there was another reason why a programme is not shown as advertised.

True, its very very rare. Programmes go wrong and drop off air but for one just to not make it to air at all at the last minute is very uncommon.

On here we can be a bit more detailed about the circumstances, our heads are higher

Quote:
I just love that in the case the case the film title was so appropriate to it being shown a few days later!

Yes and the announcer blew his big chance to make a joke on the name of the film, understandable in the circumstances I suppose
CO
commseng London London
What I've usually found is that when a live programme is going horribly wrong, it's been a combination of more than one fault.

Sometimes the small extra add on - a "could you just" late addition takes effort away from what you should have been concentrating on.
That means something is missed, for example a full check of every aspect of a backup, and then when there is another problem on the main, then the backup cannot be used.
The shouting about the late extra pails into the background as chaos levels rise and the phones and 4-wires all get really busy......
I suspect we have all been there.
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IS
Inspector Sands
When I worked in regional news it seemed that the more preparation that was done the more of a clusterf*** it turned out to be.

Some of the smoothest running programmes were the ones that were put together in a few hours
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SP
Steve in Pudsey Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
How long a cue did those machines run from? Watching it back again I wonder if the announcer was introducing something he knew wouldn't happen?

I've mentioned this before but this particular film seems to have been jinxed, it suffered a breakdown in 1992 when BBC Wales lost its network feed.



Their announcer seemed too embarrassed to do the obvious joke about having to wait to see the end of the film.

Curious that there seemingly wasn't an off air feed from Mendip available as a reserve, the maps suggest it should be easily receivable at BH Cardiff, although I guess things like subtitles might complicate using it.

Actually, would just taking Cardiff pres out of circuit with no incoming network have forced the transmitters onto RBS and restored the programme? Would Cardiff have been able to get back on (albeit messily) to do the news and closedown if they had done that?

(Edit: apparently we discussed all of these points back in February on p104)
Last edited by Steve in Pudsey on 31 October 2020 10:00am - 2 times in total
Write that down in your copybook now.
TE
Technologist London London

There are several issues with using tape cart machines for programmes, firstly you can't do a proper technical line up of the tape/machine. ......
Secondly you can't take them out of remote, if you did the cart software would throw a wobbly as it thinks the machine's not there any more. went to air so only a human going through two seperate stages could stop it

Can you imagine it but one "world class" broadcaster (all be it their description) used a Cart machine to run their news bulletins
- It took 2 mins 40 secs to de engage the machine add a tape for replay into the store area and then rengage
and then about 2 mins to find it and ask what should i do with this tape ??)

Quote:
The other issue is that doing subtitles is difficult as you need to load them into the inserter on the output of the VT the programme is coming from... and the cart has a choice of 5... I can't remember if that was an issue in the NTA as the subtitle system was a bit more advanced and I think might have added subtitles downstream?

It did but this is not the right ways to do it at all But no one listened to me ...
Adding subtitles at the end requires some very fast work to load the subtitles into the inserter
when the source was cut to air .. and because you needed to preview
there were the same number of the whole system as putting one one each VT and on a few selected lines in .. .
and you then need to get Time code from VT to the output - VITC (so why not subtitles!!) -
but as I got in early in the DTA the best and most correct way of doing it " subtitle at source" workflow was done ....
Load the tape load the subtitles Check that Vision Sound (Prog and AD)and subtitles are correct
- tell the automation that then machine ready for replay! -
The DTA also had a "police unit" on the output which did lots of things including sending a "clear subtitle" sequence
at the end of each item - something NO modern playout does ,,, hence sticking subtitles....,

What I've usually found is that when a live programme is going horribly wrong, it's been a combination of more than one fault.
Sometimes the small extra add on - a "could you just" late addition takes effort away from what you should have been concentrating on.... I suspect we have all been there.

Who would think that "just" adding a Bars to Line relay on the output of VT tranmission suite would put bars out when de operated
-so when the undocumented and well hidden PSU failed - bars appeared .... on BBC TWO !
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IS
Inspector Sands
[
Can you imagine it but one "world class" broadcaster (all be it their description) used a Cart machine to run their news bulletins
- It took 2 mins 40 secs to de engage the machine add a tape for replay into the store area and then rengage
and then about 2 mins to find it and ask what should i do with this tape ??)

A lot of news operations used Betacart though, or were they a lot more flexible?

Quote:

It did but this is not the right ways to do it at all But no one listened to me ...
Adding subtitles at the end requires some very fast work to load the subtitles into the inserter
when the source was cut to air .. and because you needed to preview
there were the same number of the whole system as putting one one each VT and on a few selected lines in .. .

The preview function was the most useful bit of that system - you could nudge subtitles off line and then send them to air - though I think I only used it once but the subtitles were so wrong that I failed miserably and we gave them up and put out an apology instead
TE
Technologist London London
Betacart was I think only a single storage space .
The Panasonic both MARC and the DVCpro product has a deep store and almost on air store I seem to remember,
Certainly the NTA MARC had two robots ....I was alway puzzled how they avoided each other .,

Nudging subtitles could be done in the DTA system as you loaded the tape or as it was on TX
But the real issue was “did you have to add or subtract the time ... “
It was not that obvious ....
but better quality control helped
As did doing a late (edited) programme with real time subtitles
As playout employed standby staff,
As late legal edits were a pain all the more so if the edit was to a prestriped tape..... if they had just cut the tape or assembly edit the very complex time code error processing we had would have coped ....,
Both NTA and DTA systems allowed you to add more of the subtitle files as you got the segments from different subtitlers ...
IS
Inspector Sands
Betacart was I think only a single storage space .
The Panasonic both MARC and the DVCpro product has a deep store and almost on air store I seem to remember,
Certainly the NTA MARC had two robots ....I was alway puzzled how they avoided each other .,

Yes MARCs had rotating columns of tapes on the left for the store and a holding section next to the machines for tapes that were needed soon. One robot picked the tapes from the store and put them into the hold, the other took them from the hold and put them into the machines. So there was only a small overlap area, I suppose the logic was just 'don't let both into the hold area'

Quote:
Nudging subtitles could be done in the DTA system as you loaded the tape or as it was on TX
But the real issue was “did you have to add or subtract the time ... “

Yes but in the NTA you could nudge offline while the programme was gong out. In the DTA it was done directly on the inserter so you had to get the maths correct before committing, you couldn't fiddle without confusing the audience
BL
bluecortina
Betacart was I think only a single storage space .
The Panasonic both MARC and the DVCpro product has a deep store and almost on air store I seem to remember,
Certainly the NTA MARC had two robots ....I was alway puzzled how they avoided each other .,

Nudging subtitles could be done in the DTA system as you loaded the tape or as it was on TX
But the real issue was “did you have to add or subtract the time ... “
It was not that obvious ....
but better quality control helped
As did doing a late (edited) programme with real time subtitles
As playout employed standby staff,
As late legal edits were a pain all the more so if the edit was to a prestriped tape..... if they had just cut the tape or assembly edit the very complex time code error processing we had would have coped ....,
Both NTA and DTA systems allowed you to add more of the subtitle files as you got the segments from different subtitlers ...


That really was the whole USP of Betacart - that you could pretty much load and unload cassettes by hand at will. You’d generally have the Bar Coder close to the machine and usually a standalone vt machine in case you didn’t even have time to bar code a cassette in a newsroom environment.

Commercial playout was a much more ‘sedate‘ affair using it, and of course incredibly reliable.

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