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Author Topic:   Ampex tapes with Apollo 11 (?) broadcasts
apollo16uvc
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From: Next to LEM, Descartes Highlands, Moon
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posted 07-08-2021 03:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo16uvc   Click Here to Email apollo16uvc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Found these three video tapes at an online auction in the USA. They have since been sent to me in Europe and should arrive by next month.

1" tape on a 10" spool.

If we have to go by the case identifier (79P-ON-7084B-W3), they are exactly:

  • Memorex Type 79 Series designed for helical-scan broadcast and closed circuit television recorders.

  • Ampex VR-6000 and VR-7000 Series Recorders
    79P-ON-7084B-W3

  • 62 minutes 9-4/2" Precision Reel 1" x 3000' in Box 1"
So probably recorded with an NTSC Ampex Type A machine.

The seller did not have a way to play back the tapes, so nothing is known about their content or which format/machine they were recorded with. Neither do I know the condition of the tapes, if they need special treatment before they can be played back and digitized. It is a gamble and I am prepared to be disappointed, there could be something different on them entirely!

If the labels are correct however, the tapes likely contain USA television broadcasts of the missions during the written events. Of the NBC, CBS or ABC. So while unlikely to be lost NASA footage, still very cool possibly live recordings off of TV.

Once digitized I can put them on my YouTube channel, if the TV channel is okay with it. More on a later date!

Blackarrow
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posted 07-08-2021 04:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can understand your excitement. Christmas will have arrived early when you receive the tapes! I look forward to reading about what you find on the tapes. I just hope the original recordings haven't been replaced by multiple episodes of "I Love Lucy!"

mode1charlie
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posted 07-08-2021 09:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mode1charlie   Click Here to Email mode1charlie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fingers crossed and good luck!

Blackarrow
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posted 07-09-2021 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is it absolutely certain that these tapes were recorded in the United States, on the NTSC system? I ask that because all three tapes refer to the date and time as "GMT" or "Greenwich." Why would they say that if recorded in an American time-zone?

Unlikely as it may seem, if they actually turn out to be recordings made in the UK, they would almost certainly contain recordings (either on BBC or ITV) which no longer exist in the UK, and would therefore be unique.

Infamously, the BBC decided that its video tapes containing its live coverage of the Apollo 11 landing and moonwalk were to be set aside for archival storage, but the tapes were then mistaken for tapes set aside for wiping. So they were wiped and lost.

If you find yourself with a recording of the BBC coverage, the BBC might become your new best friend!

Or is this completely unlikely/impossible?

apollo16uvc
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posted 07-09-2021 11:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo16uvc   Click Here to Email apollo16uvc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is important to keep an open mind and not rule out anything. There could be nothing on them, or I Love Lucy!

UK footage is possible and in that case these tapes would be historically significant for preservation.

I can not really make out anything else until the tapes are here... then I can view them with a magnetic track viewing solution.

The dates are in US format.

Even if they are NTSC tapes it may be worth while to have them played back on a PAL machine here so I can at least listen to the audio, because that is linear and has nothing to do with the video heads.

By the sound we can surely determine if anything worthwhile is on them, in case they do need to be send back to the USA.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-09-2021 01:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by apollo16uvc:
The dates are in US format...
It occurs to me that in 1969 the UK was not using GMT (even in winter) but was using BST (British Standard Time). So, for instance, the label on the bottom tape says "21.18 Greenwich, but the landing was at 21.18 BST. An American might have missed the distinction so this could have been recorded by an American in the UK.

It's fun to speculate, but I look forward to the revelation of what (if anything) is on the tapes.

Buel
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posted 07-10-2021 02:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It just had better not be ‘I Love Lucy’!!!

apollo16uvc
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posted 07-10-2021 10:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo16uvc   Click Here to Email apollo16uvc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If they were recorded in 1969, the possible VTR formats are:
  • Sony 1" (1964)
  • Ampex 1" SMPTE Type A (1965)
  • IVC 1" (1968)
Would anyone happen to know a digitization company locally with one or more of those? Then maybe we can collaborate.

Probably going to be Ampex 1" Type A.

holcombeyates
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posted 07-11-2021 08:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for holcombeyates   Click Here to Email holcombeyates     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is exciting.

In terms of transfers - We'll Save Those Memories in Dorset (he did a great job with some Apollo 8 images taken on the USS Yorktown that I bought at auction for an article I am writing). He may not have the specialist equipment to do it but might know who does.

Also worth trying the BBC or ITV as they have archive/retrieval services as income generators, also the BFI archive. Might be able to get you a contact via my cousin. Please let me know.

I would love to know what's on them. What a great thing to have in your collection... it has inspired me to go looking. I also write articles on space stories. Would be fun to see how this unfolds, cheers!

apollo16uvc
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posted 07-11-2021 03:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo16uvc   Click Here to Email apollo16uvc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will be trying to document this endeavour as best as possible, and would love to help with an article! The more people learn about this stuff, the more new material may be uncovered by people who have had this stuff sitting with them for decades.

Would love an interview.

Until I know what is on the tape, probably best not to contact a broadcaster so I don't have to disappoint them later on.

Space Cadet Carl
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posted 07-12-2021 01:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Space Cadet Carl   Click Here to Email Space Cadet Carl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a discovery... and good luck! It reminds me a bit of the big worldwide search that took place 15 years ago for the original Apollo 11 moonwalk raw data tapes that would have given us a much higher resolution view of Armstrong and Aldrin on the surface. Unfortunately, as we all know, it was finally determined that those data tapes were totally erased in the late 1970's or early 1980's. Gone forever.

holcombeyates
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posted 07-13-2021 03:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for holcombeyates   Click Here to Email holcombeyates     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was advised that the BBC have a technical group that can offer technical advice only, so no commitment.

robert_l
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posted 07-22-2021 03:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robert_l   Click Here to Email robert_l     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is fantastic news! Love this. My hobby is recording space flight started with STS-1 in 1981.

You could have a copy of the lost BBC or ITN footage. That would be a dream come true. Or it may more likely be US footage. Did NASA not use GMT (UT)? They do on the space station.

I don't think this is the lost NASA tapes. Would they not have GET as opposed to GMT?

apollo16uvc
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posted 07-23-2021 04:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo16uvc   Click Here to Email apollo16uvc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The tapes arrived today. Their condition appears fine and clean, and I was able to verify a signal with my DIY MVS!!

From my vantage point, the cases, reels and tapes appear in good condition. The tape is evenly wound, there is no spoking or holes in the winding.

The tape unspools easily by gravity and doesn't seem to stick to the underside of the reels. Nor do I get any shedding or stickiness on my cotton gloves when handling the tape.

There are a few hairline scratches along the shiny side of the tape but I assume this is to be expected? Obviously I don't know how many times these were played/recorded on. The dull side is clean. Tape lays down flat and doesn't want to curl. Edges of the tape appear straight.

It took a few tries and some waiting, but we got a magnetic signal on the tape!! Certainly audio on one edge, helical scan tracks in the middle and control pulses on the other edge.

One piece of tape viewed with the MVS:

Looks like Ampex Type A.

One other thing of note is that the reels got IDs (E.I C59078-A1-3C) on the underside that match with the labeled cases. So they must have matched the labels at one point in time. The cases do not appear to ever had any other labels stuck on them.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-24-2021 09:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apologies in advance if this is just stating the obvious, but I always understood that the correct way to store VHS video cassettes was vertically. Your pictures show these tapes stacked horizontally. When not being used or tested, should they not be stored vertically?

Captain Apollo
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posted 07-24-2021 11:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Captain Apollo   Click Here to Email Captain Apollo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is odd, American style dating MM/DD/YY but GMT timezone information (which is sort of accurate.) And handwritten too. Struggling to see a context for that.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-24-2021 01:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Let's assume, for the sake of the argument, that an official at the U.S. Embassy in London recorded the BBC coverage of the Apollo 11 Moonwalk on those tapes. Might such a person have recorded the details in that way on the spine of the cassette-box?

Captain Apollo
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posted 07-25-2021 08:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Captain Apollo   Click Here to Email Captain Apollo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And then taken them home to the US? Would PAL recordings play in the US/NTSC?

apollo16uvc
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posted 07-25-2021 12:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo16uvc   Click Here to Email apollo16uvc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If they were recorded in 1969 UK it may not be PAL at all. I think they only had the 405-line television system at the time?

Blackarrow
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posted 07-25-2021 02:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No, it was 405 lines on BBC-1 and ITV, but 625 lines in colour on BBC-2. (BBC-2 was also available in 405 lines for those with older TVs which didn't accept 625 lines).

There obviously were professional video recording machines capable of recording 405 line transmissions in the 1960s. Whether the tapes in question have captured 405 line transmissions remains to be seen.

apollo16uvc
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posted 07-28-2021 07:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo16uvc   Click Here to Email apollo16uvc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been talking with several companies and people in the Netherlands that have the capability to play 1" video tapes, including Ampex Type A, C and IVC.

For a payment I can visit and try my tapes on various machines.

If they are PAL, transfer is most likely going to be possible as long as they play well. If they are NTSC, modification of a PAL machine may be a possibility (at a much greater expense).

Either way, it is going to be rather costly. But this may be worth it if the tapes contain broadcasts from channels largely lost.

I can probably ID the content by the audio alone which will certainly be possible.

It would help greatly if I had a list of channels that you know very little footage survived of, and which channels were largely conserved. Then I can ultimately determine if it is going to be worth it or not.

Buel
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posted 07-28-2021 12:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fancy setting up a crowdfunding page? A lot of people contributing a small amount soon mounts up.

Anyone else fancy helping? I'm in...

Blackarrow
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posted 07-28-2021 02:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If there is even a slight chance that the tapes contain the "lost" BBC recordings of the Apollo 11 landing and EVA, I would be amazed if the BBC wouldn't agree to examine the tapes to determine whether they contain such material. Nothing ventured...

apollo16uvc
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posted 08-06-2021 11:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo16uvc   Click Here to Email apollo16uvc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Buel:
Fancy setting up a crowdfunding page?
I don't like asking people for money, and right now I got no idea how much this could cost to get done.

I'm talking with somebody in the Netherlands where I can try my tapes at for half a day on various machines for 200 euro, start tariff.

His transfer rate of an ampex type A PAL tape is 150 euro per tape. A multitude of that if they are a different format and require special work on machines. It may be possible to convert a machine to NTSC, but it will be very expensive.

If you want to support this project and many others, I got a funding website that is overarching for everything that I do/am working on. Including space exploration but certainly not limited to.

It is a monthly payment and you can opt out at any time.

robert_l
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posted 08-11-2021 05:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robert_l   Click Here to Email robert_l     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
BBC2 was never broadcast on 405 line VHF, however there was 625 line Monochrome sets which you could watch BBC2 in 1970. Just before Apollo 13 my dad bought a Phillips 625 line tv.

Dwight
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posted 09-21-2021 05:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwight   Click Here to Email Dwight     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
GMT was used by NASA to denote the time of downlinks/communications, at least in the Skylab era. The kinescope recordings often show GMT as the time of recording.

Blackarrow
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posted 09-21-2021 04:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
But if you look at the pictures of the tapes, one shows "Apollo 11 Landing: 7.20.1969 21.18 Greenwich." The landing did not occur at 21.18 GMT.

It did occur in the UK at 9.18pm, and I noted that down at the time, but it was 9.18pm British Standard Time (which operated all year round between 1968 and 1971) which was one hour ahead of GMT. So the landing actually took place at 2018 hrs GMT.

apollo16uvc
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posted 09-22-2021 03:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo16uvc   Click Here to Email apollo16uvc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm trying not to get my hopes up that it is anything special or lost channel broadcasts. I don't want to be disappointed!

Could be low quality dub of a telecine.

Buel
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posted 10-13-2021 10:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Any updates on this?

apollo16uvc
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posted 10-24-2021 12:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo16uvc   Click Here to Email apollo16uvc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have found a company in the Netherlands that has Ampex Type A PAL and NTSC machines. They may need to be checked out first and some repairs done.

Digitization price per 60 minute tape is 450 EUR.

I asked if I could visit and play a short portion of my tapes to verify their content before spending that amount of money on tapes that may have something completely uninteresting (to me). Hope to hear from them upcoming week.

Buel
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posted 10-24-2021 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That price seems somewhat extortionate.

Dwight
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posted 12-05-2021 11:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwight   Click Here to Email Dwight     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That price is totally normal for industry standard tape transfers. Especially now for 1" and 2" tapes, given how rare playback machines are.

apollo16uvc
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posted 02-11-2022 09:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo16uvc   Click Here to Email apollo16uvc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Found someone an hour driving from here that has a type C machine.

I have been told by DCVideo that a type A tape will have its audio track aligned with the cue track on type C.

Hoping to get a short piece of each tape played soon. This will allow me to verify the contents on the tape by audio.

Then I will know if the labels hold true and I can work on shipping to DCVideo.

Unfortunately no success talking with three companies in the NL that got type A machines. Either stopped replying or not worth it for them to service a machine for just 3 tapes.

Buel
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posted 02-11-2022 02:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Shame. You would have hoped for some goodwill, wouldn’t you? Not impressed with the stopping of replies though. Odd.

Space Cadet Carl
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posted 02-14-2022 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Space Cadet Carl   Click Here to Email Space Cadet Carl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe DC Video worked on the Spacecraft Films DVD sets for Mark Gray 20 years ago. The story with those tapes was the original 2" quad reels were copied to 3/4" Beta U-matic cassettes sometime in the 1970's by NASA.

Gray obtained those cassettes for his DVD sets. The picture quality on those DVDs was pretty good, but not as sharp as some of the tape clips CBS News had in their vaults.

Blackarrow
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posted 02-15-2022 04:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have unearthed and watched my DVD transfer of an original 1984 VHS recording (from the BBC) of Harrison Schmitt giving a 24-minute Open University talk in 1976. He talks about the Moon, the six landing sites, and of course extensively about Taurus-Littrow. The programme is interspersed with multiple extracts from the BBC's video footage of the Apollo 17 launch and the three EVAs. The quality and colour are exactly as I remember them in 1972. Much of the colour had degraded in the Spacecraft Films video of the moonwalks.

I can't help wondering if those are the only surviving scraps of the BBC's Apollo 17 coverage.

apollo16uvc
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posted 02-18-2022 01:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo16uvc   Click Here to Email apollo16uvc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tomorrow is the big day! time to find out what's on them once and for all.

Very exciting.

Buel
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posted 02-18-2022 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I absolutely LOVE things like this!!! Hurry, hurry, hurry...
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
I can't help wondering if those are the only surviving scraps of the BBC's Apollo 17 coverage.
Wow, Geoffrey, just Wow!!!!

apollo16uvc
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posted 02-19-2022 02:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo16uvc   Click Here to Email apollo16uvc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

holcombeyates
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posted 02-20-2022 07:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for holcombeyates   Click Here to Email holcombeyates     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Any update? Great to see this unfold.

The short YouTube clip seems to be a slow playing audio track.

Hope to see some longer files soon.


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