Beatles on Ed Sullivan Video Question

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by stereoguy, Feb 10, 2024.

  1. stereoguy

    stereoguy Its Gotta Be True Stereo! Thread Starter

    So, like a lot of other Beatles Fans, last night at 8:00 exactly, I spun the DVD of The Beatles first appearance on Ed Sullvan. I hadnt seen it in a very long time, and noticed something.

    When the show opens and Ed talks to the crowd, the video quality is clean and clear, as if it was taken from the original 2 inch video tape. But as soon as The Beatles appear, the video quality degrades to what looks like was taken from a 1 inch copy. THEN, when The Beatles come back for their final 3 songs, the quality looks good again.

    Am I right on this? Dos the 2 inch master video reel with that entire show still exist?
    Vahan and longdist01 like this.
  2. seacliffe301

    seacliffe301 Forum Resident

    You would not be able to see any degradation of picture quality simply by looking at a 1” dub from a 2” master, unless there was a malfunction taking place with either the playback or record VTR. Whatever comprise in picture quality you’re seeing would be from a different issue.
    nosticker and Dan C like this.
  3. ky658

    ky658 Senior Member

    Ft Myers, Florida
    It’s also missing the Kent Cigarette commercials from the original CBS broadcast.
  4. stereoguy

    stereoguy Its Gotta Be True Stereo! Thread Starter


    Thanks. But respectfully, I'd disagree with you on that.
  5. seacliffe301

    seacliffe301 Forum Resident

    I'm curious as to why you you say that. 1" type C was the broadcast tape standard that replaced 2" throughout the industry. This included film to tape transfer and mastering in editorial, as well as being the mandated deliverable standard for air to all networks and major markets. And then let's not forget about archival. Many facilities simply stopped maintaining 2" VTR's and would transfer all 2" to 1" for long term storage. Also keep in mind that there were SMPTE standards to adhere to. The level of degradation that you describe simply would not have been tolerated.

    Do you believe that everything that you saw on television was being played from the original master? Doesn't work that way. Standard everyday procedures include production elements, sub masters, protection masters as well as dub masters be made long before the first copy for air is ever created. I've just cited 4 generations removed and this tape hasn't even hit the tape room at wherever it's being aired.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2024
  6. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    There is a theory that the original original videotape of The Beatles on Ed Sullivan was stolen and replaced with a ***tty copy. I agree that what survives and what has been reissued does not look like good, clean, 1960s 2" B&W master tapes. There are some theories, but I think the crime happened in the 1970s, so that trail is ice-cold by now.

    I used 2" VTRs every day throughout the 1970s, and was really happy at the end of the 1970s when 1"C came in. It was far easier to use, more reliable, plus you could see the picture in stop and rewind and slo-mo and all that other stuff. We loved 1" when it came in -- a lot changed once that happened.

    That's true in a way, but for a show as primitive as The Ed Sullivan Show, I don't think there was any editing until the late 1960s (if that), and I think the most they did was "dual record" the show on two VTRs simultaneously, in case one failed. I don't think the world of submasters, protection masters, and all that stuff happened until years later.

    Although: I was working at Complete Post in Hollywood when we restored all the 1960s/1970s Barbra Streisand CBS specials (which she wound up owning). I was shocked to one day stroll through the vault and discover a vault tape cart with not just all the master tapes and submaster tapes to a couple of the Streisand specials, but also all the iso camera master tapes, recorded directly from the cameras during production! I had no idea they were even doing that in the 1960s. Some years later, I asked noted director Dwight Hemion about that, and he nodded and said, "yes, on a show that big we did recorded protection copies and were able to go in and make fixes on shows where we had some technical problems, like the Color Me Barbra special where I think a camera failed."

    But of course, 2" videotape editing in the time of Ed Sullivan and so on was a nightmare, fraught with problems, and super-accurate SMPTE timecode editing didn't happen until almost a decade later. I agree with you that a lot of those old machines were not well-maintained, and there's quite a few old shows that technically got transferred to 1", and then the 2" master tapes were kind of dumped or mothballed or otherwise discarded... which is a shame, because the 1" tape copies weren't always that great.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2024
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  7. dr jazz

    dr jazz Forum Resident

    park ridge,il,usa
    Thanks vidiot for your usual insight and experience
    indigovic likes this.

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