CONVERTING THE ORIGINAL FILMS TO DIGITAL VIDEO
Starting with the Video side of the A-Archives...
One of the biggest hurdles of this archival work is to preserve ALL of shows in which Mark and Nani performed on and produced. It's a challenge because they have been involved in showbiz for all eras and types of recorded analog moving images!
They really did start at the dawn of Television. Mark and Nani come from the era when nothing was recorded, it was only live, and they had to drive from city to city to do each TV show for each market. And their career has now passed the last of the 3-D HD - D1 and D2 - highest quality analog tape recordings (even though the signal is digital in that format, it is recorded on a linear tape that plays back for analog output, not "non-linear" from a hard drive). I'm so happy to say that because of Mark's vision for the future, I'm taking them into the Digital age, and hopefully with your help, way beyond!
So far, almost everything on this site had been from a video source of some type. The film archives have been a somewhat elusive goal... The films are what I'm trying to add to the collection these days, initially because some episodes of Allakazam are missing. But as I dig through the collection, its FUN to DISCOVER the hidden TREASURES!
To save this huge collection before it decays, means I also need a wide variety of video players.
With the idea of saving everything, I've been collecting video equipment by purchasing at auctions and accepting donations of every type of gear I can afford, some working, some I get for parts. I'm looking for and am finding pretty much every type... from 1" reel to reel, to Beta Cam, Beta SP, Digi-Beta, 3/4" U-matic, Sony DV Cam, 1/2" Reel to Reel, S-VHS, Hi-8, Laser Disc, and of course VHS and DVD. I don't have all of that yet, but we have quite a good pile of gear to sort through and try to make work.
2" Quad Video is a whole other topic... and is even more difficult to maintain and operate. That's way out of reach for me, technically. We can talk about the 2" collection in another "Allaka-Discovery" article.
At the same time, I must keep my old video editing software going on older equipment, and save money. I prefer not to use subscription software, that's why I've hit the limit on upgrades. Now I need to find older Mac's that will allow me to run the "legacy" versions of Final Cut Pro and Photoshop that I own.
Clem and I work together to break down the MacPros I get from different facilities that close down, and equipment auctions. We try to re-assemble the parts into working computers. It's fun to make them work but a big distraction from doing the archival work.
But what about the films?
Films of television are better known as, "Kinescopes"... the 16mm film format used to record and broadcast TV shows, prior to the popularity of Analog Video. While I know what I'm looking for in Video equipment, the film gear has been the most difficult for me to find... Especially the right equipment to convert the Kinescopes to Digital Video for preservation.
These days, everything is Digital Video, and mostly "Non-Linear". That's how you watch TV through cable and the internet. Broadcast TV requires a digital antenna. The world of analog is on its way out, and very quickly too.
But the world of Television back in the 1950's and early 1960's was quite different. It was all recorded on film! There was no video tape yet.
And even when video tape became the technology of choice for initial recording and some broadcast, it was not used for long term preservation. There are many sad stories of whole series of TV shows being lost because the original tape was expensive and therefore "reused".
Though the "Magic Land of Allakazam" was actually recorded on Video Tape first... those "Camera Masters" were immediately transferred to 35mm film for editing, as there was no way to easily edit the video tape at that time. The sound did not go through any "re-mixing", they just used what was originally recorded, so the post-production process could be kept to a minimum the budget!
Sadly, but or one single show, the 35mm versions of the Allakazam episodes were all lost. The versions we see now are the surviving 16mm Kinescopes that were sent around the world to air the show in local markets.
Mark and Nani have closely guarded these remaining films of Allakazam, along with many other films that I am only now discovering!
I had the good fortune to find one of the "workhorses" of the TV industry dating back to the mid 60's that was used and recently restored, to play these Kinescopes and convert them to video. I won at auction, an RCA TP-66 projector. Sadly it did not have a video camera, and that is my current search... to find a camera with the right macro lens to actually take a video image right off of the film print.