Getting the big picture.(RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENTS)

Just before this month's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention in Las Vegas, a group of producers, television-equipment suppliers, and talent representatives were scheduled to discuss such issues as projection technologies in movie theaters. It was not, however, at NAB's Digital Cinema Summit, co-produced by the Society of Motion-Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) and the Entertainment Technology Center. It was, instead, at the nearby Sports Video Group (SVG) Chairman's Forum.

Why would sports producers be concerned with movie theaters? Perhaps it would be best to begin at our genesis.

In the beginning, John Logie Baird created the first recognizable television image of a human face. It was almost without form, and darkness was upon it. So the inventor added light and saw that it was crude. It was the first day of the Age of Videography.

That was in 1925. Two years later, corporate media got involved. Bell Telephone Laboratories demonstrated their version of television.

Actually, it was two versions. In one, the viewer looked at a small screen in a box. In the other, viewers sat in an auditorium and viewed a much larger screen flanked by drapes, as in a modern movie theater.

By 1930, four more versions of theatrical television had been demonstrated, by Baird, General Electric, RCA, and Western Television. The ad for Baird's version inaccurately called it "The World's First Public Performance of Television in a Theatre," but it didn't even need to say what would be seen on the screen. The idea of seeing anything on television in 1930 was reason enough to buy a ticket.


Of course, on that 1930 cinema-television screen, "anything" might have been mistaken for almost anything else. In the 2,358-seat auditorium, Baird's TV screen was just 30 inches wide and offered a single scanning line for each of those inches. …

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