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Markymark6,978 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today
It seems strange how late the video/film combination was used though, it seems rare for any BBC sitcoms even in the late 80s to be all video, and even in the early 90s there were some still using film on location (and OFAH and One Foot In The Grave were still doing it into the 00s!). Ab Fab is a bit strange in that it seemed to mix the two sometimes, even in the same episode. Did seem to affect sitcoms more, there seem to be plenty of BBC dramas using video on location in the 70s and 80s.

Especially when you look at how many ITV sitcoms of the 70s and 80s used video on location, at least occasionally (I guess there were times when using video was impractical with the technology of the time). Strange to see ITV3 showing On The Buses from 1970 with videotaped location work, then seeing episodes of Bread and Brush Strokes from over 20 years later still using film.


Yes, I was surprised to see video being used on an On The Buses I caught the other day. Ironically there was a scene in the same episode that was set at a bus stop, but everything about it gave away it was in the studio, ( even for stuff of that era)

I think Thames sit coms of that era also used video outdoors, and ( as mentioned before in here) ATV’s children’s sci fi Timeslip was done as an OB with the output SHF’d back to Elstree where it was taped
james-20015,086 posts since 13 Sep 2015
Central (East) East Midlands Today
I guess using video on location was not the easiest back in the 60s and 70s, needing an OB unit and several big cameras! Would have had to wait until the 80s for more portable cameras and presumably the ability to shoot single camera and edit more easily.

I bought the original Twilight Zone on Blu-ray recently, and the 6 episodes they shot on video to try and save money are quite interesting. Not least because they're so basic in comparison to the filmed episodes, entirely studio based and mostly as-live. Good that they survive as video though seeing as they were made in 1960, not just scratchy, blurry telerecordings (which the person doing the commentary mentions was the only way those episodes were seen in repeats for years, I presume that's how they were screened in the UK originally too?). Again, would have had to wait probably until the 70s or 80s until you had the same flexibility with video as you did with film.
Last edited by james-2001 on 13 June 2019 11:21am
noggin14,455 posts since 26 Jun 2001
I guess using video on location was not the easiest back in the 60s and 70s, needing an OB unit and several big cameras! Would have had to wait until the 80s for more portable cameras and presumably the ability to shoot single camera and edit more easily.


Lightweight cameras really were the key enabler for OB-style location video drama, and allied to that portable 1" VTRs also had a role in some instances.

The BBC shot quite a lot of video drama on lightweight Fernseh, Ikegami HL79s and Sony BVP330 cameras in the late 70s and 80s. There were occasional Doctor Who video location shoots when most location stuff was still 16mm film, and a significant amount of costume drama (Barchester, To Serve Them All My Days, Mansfield Park etc.) had location video (though in some cases film was also still used for some location stuff)

A lot of location drama was shot 2 or 3 camera and cut as-live with just the single mixer cut being recorded to 2" or 1" VT (I think 1" really revolutionised this way of working) There were 'single camera units' (SCUs in BBC-speak) which used a single camera cabled back to a small OB truck with vision control, some basic sound equipment and a 1" VTR housed within, along with talkback. This style of working was particularly popular with Children's BBC productions. Camcorders were still not really available in any quality until the late 80s - and even Betacam SP wasn't really ever favoured for mainstream drama. (DigiBeta in the mid-90s brought the advent of location camcorder 'single camera' working to mainstream drama).
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davidhorman2,236 posts since 8 Mar 2005
Channel Channel Islands
There were occasional Doctor Who video location shoots when most location stuff was still 16mm film


I think there were just the three stories (until they went fully video for Colin Baker's last season in 1986 onwards). Tom Baker's first story, Robot , was a mix of studio and location, all on video, then his third episode The Sontaran Experiment was notably entirely on location and on video (both 1974), and then The Stones of Blood in 1978.

There was at least one occasion when they shot an interior set scene on film specifically for the aesthetics of it ( Kinda, 1982).