Norman Chapman

Forename/s: 
Norman
Family name: 
Chapman
Work area/craft/role: 
Company: 
Industry: 
Interview Number: 
283
Interview Date(s): 
28 May 1993
30 Jun 1993
4 Aug 1993
Interviewer/s: 
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 
675

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Interview notes

Behp0283-norman-chapman-summary

This interview is full of detail about the film equipment used in television.

 

SIDE ONE

Born 11 November 1915, educated Westcliffe, left school at 16, worked at Twickenham Studios; left to work on equipment supplied by Radio Relay, left to work at the BBC Recording Dept in Delaware Road in the early war years.

SIDE TWO

This deals with the early disc recorder and its updating; about the Stille steel tape recording system; he then moves on to the immediate post war years at Alexandra Palace, and his meeting with Phil Dorte (Head of OBs and Film) and early days of television newsreel.

SIDE THREE

His first meeting with Mr Kirk, Head of BBC Research Dept., the trip to the USA with Bob Verrall and John Buyers [?] to seek information on the American methods of handling magnetic film – the role he played in obtaining camera equipment for the TV newsreel.

SIDE FOUR

Continues to talk about newsreel equipment and the first sound truck for the film department; and searching for editing equipment.

SIDE FIVE

The change over to 16mm film and the search for a combined 16mm sound and picture camera, then about processing equipment for news film, and about editing equipment problems and his first meeting with Steenbeck

SIDE SIX

The purchase of Lime Grove was his next challenge and the way it had to be adapted to meet the Film Department’s demands.

SIDE SEVEN

He explains the problems the BBC had to face with the royalty demands from both RCA and Westrex and the final resolution; about the tussle with the Board of Trade about the purchase of US sound equipment; the early days of coverage of Wimbledon tennis and the installation of processing equipment at Lime Grove and then into the regions.

SIDE EIGHT

He talks about the introduction of the double camera and its demise; and the McKinsey Report advocating use of 16mm film and talks in detail about the various cameras that were tried and purchased.

SIDE NINE

More about camera equipment.

SIDE TEN

He talks about the development of crystal control for both sound recorders and cameras and the experimental use on a series of productions at Riverside Studios using the Electronicam System.

SIDE ELEVEN

The Electronicam system was used at one film at Pinewood, Stop the World I want to Get Off! With Anthony Newley; the production was only one week on the floor; the quest for better lenses, talks with Taylor Hobson, Zeiss, and Schneiders. The need for quieter mobile generators was another problem to be solved. The purchase of Ealing Studios, the state the studios were in and the restriction imposed on the Film Dept., that no money could be spent.

SIDE TWELVE

Ealing continued, then he talks about dubbing studios at Alexandra Palace, Lime Grove, Television Centre, and then Ealing.

SIDE THIRTEEN

More about dubbing equipment and then he goes on to talk about the development of regional film equipment at Bristol.

SIDE FOURTEEN

The Second Everest expedition, and the equipment used, and Birmingham and Manchester, Glasgow and Northern Ireland. Colour Processing. He then talks about “sub-regional” requirements. On his retirement from the BBC he worked as a consultant for Perfectone, where he stayed for fourteen years; he talks about the different methods of ordering equipment by the ITV companies, as opposed to the BBC.

SIDE FIFTEEN
He talks about Harlech TV and Granada, gives his reasons for eventually retiring and looks back to his early days when he worked for Harrods bank, when he joined the London Amateur Film Club, run by A. J. Bromley and he talks about the equipment they used and the films they made.

SIDE SIXTEEN

He continues his looking back with a story about the Compton Organ Company installing a cinema organ, as a possible replacement or as a stop-gap when the Cathedral [?] organ was being overhauled.

Transcript