Sponsor (Sept-Dec 1958)

Record Details:

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leiape gets into the act STATUS REPORT VIDEOTAPE lion. An all-out, crash program has enabled the company to turn out, since last November, about 20 videotape recorders a month — or about one each day. In its last fiscal year, Ampex did a gross business of $30 million; the year before, its volume amounted to $18 million. This does not mean that recorders have accounted for the lion's share of this gain since the company also is heavy in instrumentalization (from giant computers to tiny gadgets that fit into the nose-cones of guided missiles). But the videotape equipment has played a substantial role, and a total of 150 recorders are now in operation. So now that videotape has gained such an enviable beachhead and its invasion of tv has begun, the question is: Where does it go from here? The answer: Almost anywhere. Already a number of national network tv advertising clients and their agencies are using tape commercials. Some are: Colgate's Palmolive soap (Ted Bates), Liggett & Myers' Chesterfield cigarettes (Mc-E), P&G's Tide (B&B), Lever's Imperial margarine (FC&B), Brown & Williamson's Kool cigarettes (Bates), Sealtest Dairy (N. W. Ayer), Allstate Insurance (Leo Burnett), Lever's Lux (JWT), Kellogg's cereals (Burnett). Others join the parade every week. In September, GM's Buick will do three tapes through Mc-E at NBC's Burbank, Calif., tape center. Flexibility is a major factor in many of the decisions that led such advertisers into tape. "With tape, there's no frost on your tv commercials when the robins are chirping outside," Ed Cashman, radio/ tv vice president of Hollywood's FC&B agency, told SPONSOR. For Edsel, this agency taped commercials for Wagon Train, also for last fall's Crosby-Sinatra-Clooney Edsel Show. "Film would have taken time to process," Cashman went on. "The flexibility of tape allows you to change copy, selling points, add statistics, bring out new features almost immediately." Add to this flexibility such other tape advantages as (1) economy ef CLEARING AWAY SOME COBWEBS ABOUT TAPE All the Westinghouse Broadcasting stations have recorders. Here are some things WBC has found out about a videotape operation: Tape: A reel of tape carries an hour's programing, costs $300, but can be erased and re-used 100 times without loss of quality For repairs : Many components such as re Rewind : A videotape holding a quarter-hour sistors, tubes, etc., are available at any sup show can be rewound and ready for play ply store. Heads, of course, come from factory back in as little as 10 or 12 seconds Heads: Recording heads are lasting about aw hours. Original head costs $1,200; after that they are replaced at $300 each Switching reels: On the recorder, one can switch reels of videotape in less than 30 seconds — about the time of a chain break fected through taping a string of commercials while camera crews are on hand at the studio, (2) the spontaneity feeling of a "live" commercial yet free of fluff perils due to taping ahead of air time, (3) The ability to fit shooting schedules to the convenience of stars who might be otherwise unable to leave a Broadway stage to do a live nighttime tv commercial, (4) the immediacy factor which permits an advertiser to make a last-minute copy change in a commercial just before taking to the air. As with goose and gander, what's good for the advertiser is good for the broadcaster. Stations and networks are discovering the same advantages in tape that are advertisers and agencies. It is like a child's erector set toy from which the list of things that can be built is virtually endless. "Videotape opens up a whole new future of opportunities," says Donald H. McGannon, president of Westinghouse Broadcasting Co. (Each of the WBC stations owns an Ampex recorder) . "The industry has been headed in the direction of automation; tape is a big step in that direction." Like others of the 43 stations that own recorders, WBC outlets are constantly discovering new ways to put their equipment to work. On-the-spot news coverage, elimination of kines, pre-airtiine show production, intra-station communications, on-location commercials for local clients, sales presentations to clients who may see exactly what they get if they buy, are just a few of many station applications. Meanwhile the networks have used tape to solve the costly, long-vexing problems of time zones and Daylight Saving (53 tape recorders are currently in use among the three webs). Now it is possible for them to keep their programing oil affiliates' "clock time" through delayed operations, eliminating the never-quite-satisfactory kines. At the same time they are finding their videotape useful for program development and in the production of commercials for clients. Six commercial producers are producing or about to produce taped tv ads. They are: Filmways, Elliot, Linger and Elliot, Telestudios, Guild Films, General Videotape Service, and Videotape Productions. The latter is being financed in part by Ampex. In the area of film producers and talent unions probably more controversy and confusion about videotape has been raised than in any other. Among the unions, especially AFTRA and SAG, the problem is jurisdiction. {Please turn to page 80) SPONSOR • 6 SEPTEMBER 1958