of the reel for the Quad
era has ended in post production with the removal of the last 2-inch
Quadruplex machine from Television Centre, 43 years after the first
of the video recorders was installed at Lime Grove Studios, "It's
like the last days of steam," said Dave Rixon, post production
editor who has used the machines for the past ten years, "It's
sad to see such a lovely-made machine go."
Each measuring roughly the size of four fridge-freezers, the VR2000
machines were the very first successful video tape recording machines,
previously recordings had to be made by pointing the film camera onto
a monitor - a slow and expensive process.
Developed by the American company Ampex during the mid-1950s, the machines
were introduced to the BBC in 1958. The Quads were understandably a
huge technical leap and played an integral part in programme making.
When one-inch video tape was introduced in 1982, the larger tape machines
ceased to be used on a daily basis.
"The tapes are huge though," explained Rixon, who joined the
BBC in 1970, "They are about a foot across and very heavy."
The post-production team now use digibeta, "We don't even edit
on tape," said Rixon, "It's fascinating for me because I've
seen the changes at the BBC during my career."
There is a silver lining for Quad machine enthusiasts, however. Rather
than being sent to the scrap-heap, the last machine, at the age of 34,
will be heading to a company in the Middle East. "The fact that
up to its removal it could replay 40 year old recordings and still produce
good results says something for the format," said Colin Bainbridge,
VT archive area supervisor, BBC Resources. "I wonder if tape-based
digis will achieve such immortality."
caption: Farewell to Quad: Steve Newnham, Dave Rixon and Jeff Eaton
Photo by Tully Chaudry