Condition of Johnny Carson tapes

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Vahan, Oct 12, 2017 at 1:16 AM.

  1. Vahan

    Vahan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Glendale, CA, USA
    I was on Facebook, and someone pointed out how in the PBS documentary on Carson on American Experience, when they showed all those tapes buried in the Kansas salt mines, some of the containers where the tapes are in have rust on their edges, and wondered if this would affect the condition of the tapes.

    My understanding is that those tapes cannot be damaged beyond repair, if they're stored properly in a climate-controlled vault, like the Kansas salt mines. Videotape is said to last hundreds of years if stored properly.

    Here's the footage in question. Go to 2:59

     
  2. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    They dubbed all the tapes to digital in the last 10 years, using the best available vintage 2" machines that are very well-maintained in Burbank, most of them over at DC Video. The machines are good enough I would say that the shows look as good or better now that they did when first broadcast. I don't know what the policy is on rusted reels or damaged boxes.
     
  3. Vahan

    Vahan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Glendale, CA, USA
    Vidiot, do you know why some of the tapes are marked "BLOOPED"? What do they mean by "BLOOPED"?
     
  4. chicofishhead

    chicofishhead Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Chico, California
    I don't see any rust, and since the cases are made of plastic, I wouldn't expect to.

    What I think is weird is that they don't seem to be in any kind of order on the shelves.
     
  5. Vahan

    Vahan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Glendale, CA, USA
    Vidiot, why are some of the tapes marked "BLOOPED"? What do they mean by "BLOOPED"? Someone told me that it could mean that the tape was altered for the censor, but I'm not sure about that.
     
  6. Pete Sorbi

    Pete Sorbi Active Member

    Id be more interested in trying to drill into the Los Angeles (Burbank?) landfill and seeing the condition of *those* Johnny Carson tapes - after witnessing them digging up old E.T. Atari games and playing them - and also reading articles about how stuff doesn't decompose much beyond a certain depth - 40 year old hot dogs and the like - and also seeing an article about some tapes in Italy (?) that were literally in a flooded basement for a very long time -being baked and brought back to life - combining all these facts- it would be an interesting project - depending on whether the landfill was sanitary (dry) or one where they pumped lechate through it - and also how well they kept records - like - a sanitary landfill is all cells - so if you know which week - you should be able to figure out how deep....etc...
     
  7. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    My guess is censored, that they permanently spot-erased any naughty words uttered during the broadcast.

    Given that they've been bulldozed and sitting in the landfill for about 45 years, I suspect the decades of stuff on top of them will make them impossible to find. Even if you could find them, they're not going to play. I think there was a vague attempt by Carson to look into it 6 months after it happened, in early 1973, and even by then they decided it was a total loss.
     
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  8. Vahan

    Vahan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Glendale, CA, USA
    Thanks Vidiot.

    And I absolutely just how detailed the information written on those tapes are, even including the EXACT time each program was videotaped before it was broadcast. I can only assume nearly ALL existing master tapes of videotaped programs are like that.
     
  9. Pete Sorbi

    Pete Sorbi Active Member

    well - sanitary landfills are an odd beast - they fill different specific square cells every day....like a giant honeycomb - its not just a big pile that gets pushed around - I remember they had to find a bunch of paperwork for some mobster case or something (this was some crime show) - and it had been years since it was buried- and - other than having some gunk on them - they were able to pull boxes and reams of paper/etc out (and this was some big NY landfill...if I recall) - stuff just gets mummified in those sort of landfills - of course it wouldn't be worth the cost and permits and etc- but - I think its theoretically possible...plausible at least - especially if they dumped a literal truck full of video cans in there - anyways - the faster it got buried - the better .....mostly an interesting thought exercise...but...Ive personally looked at some 40 year old newspapers and other things pulled up by a big core sample..and....its not as compacted as you would think......
     
  10. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    There were generally assistant directors and others who would make "tape logs" for every show, and this process eventually became computerized in the late 1980s/early 1990s. This would list every moment of every show in terms of who was the guest, what songs were featured, which acts came out and performed, what comedy routines were done, and so on.

    Johnny Carson's nephew, Jeff Sotzing, is the guy now running Carson Enterprises and he meticulously went back and hired people to go through every word of every show that survives and actually note what jokes were used, what subject matter and really index the shows to the Nth degree. And they also created a visual database so you could also call up that digitized segment and bring up that moment on a computer screen. It's a very efficient system, but one that took many years to put together and process.

    Johnny Carson's nephew recalls his 'incredible experience'
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017 at 11:47 PM
  11. James Slattery

    James Slattery Active Member

    Location:
    Long Island
    Two questions. Firstly, what is the status of the guest hosted shows, of which there were many. Were these saved or discarded? Secondly, regarding salvaging, could the Dumont library, which was dumped into the East River, conceivably be salvaged if the films were in airtight cans?
     
  12. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    I think only Carson Enterprises could answer the question about guest host episodes. I would think the guest hosts signed release forms that assign all rights to Carson, but it's hard to say.

    As to "airtight cans," in your dreams. 45 years later? In the Hudson River? Come on. They wouldn't last a week. Film cans have a little air space just because of their design, and I would also bet thousands of films weren't in cans at all -- just a bunch of disorganized reels and cores. The trail on this stuff has been absolutely dead for decades.
     
  13. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Where are you seeing that marking?
     
  14. Vahan

    Vahan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Glendale, CA, USA
    To answer the first question, the video I linked to showed some of the tapes of episodes with guest hosts listed (i.e. Richard Dawson;
    On a few of the tapes, like the one that had Bert Convy as a guest-host.
     
  15. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Are these visible in that video you posted? I don't see "blooped" on any of those containers in the linked video. :confused:
     
  16. Vahan

    Vahan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Glendale, CA, USA
    The 3:39 mark.
     
  17. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Ah, thanks!
    Screen shot 2017-10-13 at 12.47.10 PM.jpg
     
  18. empirelvr

    empirelvr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    Plus, as regards to videotapes, if NBC treated these discard tapes the same way record label/recording studios and vaults treated tapes to be disposed started to in the 1970's, they would have been bulked (as well as maybe even sawed in half!) before hitting the landfill.
     
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  19. DaleClark

    DaleClark Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Bexley, Ohio
    I know our station as a kid ran the tonight show late after a Reds west coast baseball game. I wonder if any affiliates have any buried treasure. I assume the affiliate just recorded the original broadcast and played later.
     
  20. jupiter8

    jupiter8 Forum Resident

    Location:
    NJ, USA
    when I worked at a broadcast network in the 90s bulk erasers got a good workout-mind you, mostly betacam tapes we'd reuse -we'd use those 20 times before we'd dump them because they were considered expensive
     
  21. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    I don't think there was time -- I think they were just dumped. The newer tapes would survive for a period of time in the blue 3M plastic shipper case, but I think most of the early-to-mid-1960s tapes were basically in thick cardboard boxes, which are not going to survive well at all. This would be tough a year later, let alone 45 years later.

    BTW, anybody who wants to contact Carson Enterprises can do so here:

    Carson Entertainment Group
    P.O. Box 1520
    Fullerton, CA 92836
    Phone: (714) 626-0196
    Fax: (714) 626-0197
    Clips@CarsonEntertainmentGroup.com
     
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  22. MarkTheShark

    MarkTheShark Forum Resident

    Why would NBC have dumped Carson's tapes in a landfill? Wouldn't they have reused them? Unless they had already been taped over so many times as to not be usable for another pass. This stuff was expensive.
     
  23. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    Quite a few of them were the old 3M 399 brown-oxide tapes used for B&W in the 1960s and they wouldn't hold up for high-band color. There were actually hundreds of thousands of these old tapes junked for that very reason: you couldn't reuse them for 1970s TV because there were too many dropouts and too many technical issues. It was easier to toss them and start over.

    Bear in mind these were daily, throwaway shows like game shows or news shows that had zero rerun potential (back then). Nobody knew that they had any practical value.
     

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