It is a little inconvenient

Videotape recording is very useful in television broadcasting but editing it is not as easy as editing motion picture film.”

So began the 1967  SMPTE paper of a team from Japanese broadcaster NHK that included engineers Yasushi Fujimura, S.Iwamura, Aogu Matsumae, Tsuguo Ohtani, and K.Matsuoka.

It described ‘an automatic video tape editing splicing system that had successfully been used to cut 84 programs. Over a period of two years, NHK had developed a system that used a process computer, two 4-head VTRs and a dedicated control panel.

The output of studio cameras was dual recorded onto a 2” tape and a second helical scan VTR with the associated recording address signals. An engineer used the helical deck to edit with because it offered greater control with still frame, fast spooling and reverse operation than the Quad master. The editor played back the rushes only, and pushed a ‘cut-in’ and ‘cut-out’ button at the desired ‘in’ and ‘out’ points using a single monitor.

The address pulse for the edits was automatically picked up and stored in the memory of the computer, however the editor was unable to watch the edited sequence immediately. 

The computer used the decisions on its drum memory to transfer the required scenes from the original 2” rushes tape to a new blank master tape, shot by shot. If changes were required, the entire sequence was erased, and the process had to be started from scratch.

The NHK submission to SMPTE contended:

“Nevertheless the pilot study proved that this was not critical. However, it is a little inconvenient.” 

The monthly excerpt from John Buck’s book, ‘Timeline’. Available at iBooks and Amazon


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