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TVW On-Air Presentation

Posted by KeithMackenzie On October - 12 - 2009

ON-AIR PRESENTATION - “The Way It Used To Be” as recalled by former TVW Senior Director, Keith Mackenzie.


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Behind the glass wall is Terry Green in AMU1
VMU1 personnel Left to Right: Keith Mackenzie, Gerry Swift, Max Taylor and his Lighting Assistant.


When you watch Television in Australia, today, in 2009, and view a Commercial Channel’s ON-AIR Presentation of Programs, Promos and Commercials, it’s all being Transmitted to you from Melbourne or Sydney. It doesn’t matter whether you live in Adelaide, Brisbane or Perth, your local Channel’s content (unless it’s the local News or a local “Live” Program) will be coming from Melbourne or Sydney, and, it’s all automatic, generated by a Computer, and, once programed, no Human needs to be in attendance.

Not so in years gone by though– At TVW, back in the 60’s, when I joined the Company, all the TV Directors were rostered on to one of two, daily, 8 hour shifts, as Presentation Directors, referred to then as Coordinators. In those days we didn’t have TV on the air for 24 hours a day like today. We sat in a Control Room and put the TV Station to air. That meant sitting at a Vision Mixing panel and switching between Programs, Commercials and Promos, and, also Vision Mixing the evening News bulletin.

Items would be cued up with a run up time for the Sound and Vision to stabilize, usually of between 5 and 10 seconds. We had to run the item by calling the Film or Videotape operators via a Talkback system. We also inserted Slides from Telecine for some items.


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1965 version of the Master Log courtesy of Peter Croft


We worked off a Presentation log with every item detailed, and it was necessary to make sure that everything dovetailed together neatly, and, most importantly, that we didn’t miss, or mess up, any Commercials. That would mean that the Company lost revenue. If that happened, we’d then have to try and find a slot to do a Make-Good, which meant running the Commercial again at no cost to the client. It was also very important not to Schedule a Product clash in a Break so that we didn’t have, for example, 2 of the same Products, but, from 2 different manufacturers.

The Presentation Team consisted of six people, the Director, Audio operator, Telecine operator, Videotape operator, Booth Announcer for Voice overs, and, an Engineer in the Master Control area to monitor the technical output. All very different to today’s On-Air Presentation operation.


Early 1960’s On-Air Program Presentation Facilities


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Tim Ball and Brian Williams in Vision Mixing Unit (VMU2)


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Audio Mixing Unit (AMU2)



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Pam Leuba in the Announce Booth behind AMU2



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Frank Deusien in the original Master Control



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Ray Caley and Peter Buzzard in Telecine



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Ken McKay in Videotape







2 Responses to “TVW On-Air Presentation”

  1. John Slater says:

    It reminds me of my short stint as a on-air director, 7 second VTR roll & 5 second telecine roll I think??? What a pressure job, hats off to those who did it so well like Marion who placed her knitting down, did a break then picked up without dropping a stitch!.

  2. Rosemary Deusien says:

    I had heard stories from my father-in-law (Frank Deusien) in regard to his working at TVW and it is fascinating to see these photos of how it all used to be!

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