The station bought as part of the colour upgrade two Ampex 1" machines. A VPR-7903 for the OB van and a VPR-7953 for the studio. The studio machine being for replay of OB recordings, studio segs, promos and id's. It's time base corrector (TBC) offered heterodyne processing which allowed us to also use it as a TBC for our Sony VO-2850 U-Matic edit suite, which was used to cut news stories. With the Ampex TBC we played the stories to air directly from the VO-2850 U-Matic vtr. The 1" machines had a tape transport that opened for simple threading, all guides retracted and the tape was simply wrapped around the audio stack and scanner. A large knob with 'open' and 'close' was the operator interface for this. It was essential to tension up the tape before closing the transport.
We almost lost the coverage of a Polocrosse competition as a spec of dust became wedged on the scanner. The result was a huge loss of RF and the TBC could not fully stabilise it. With further attempts the techs found that an old Astor black & white monitor would run the output with stability. We recovered the Polocrosse match by shooting the Astor screen with a studio camera. There was still a band of lost vision across the screen and it was black & white, but due to the importance of the event it went to air.
As the machines aged, months not years, so did the reliabilty of their recordings. With the open/close transport we started to have trouble with tape paths. Compatibility between the studio and OB machines also suffered. We reached a point where we would not wind an OB recording off the machine, so preserving the tape path, then take the machine out of the OB van, up to the studio, connect it to the TBC and dub it off to 2".
An RCA TPR-10 portable 2" machine later replaced the VPR-7903.
In the foreground corners of the pic are the 35mm slide projectors. On the left an RCA on the black & white EMI telecine chain and an unremembered brand on the Philips colour telecine chain to the right. Also on the left is the spool arm of a Bell & Howell 16mm projector. The RCA slide projector was later installed on the Philips telecine. Photo courtesy of Rhys.