ALAN EDMONDS September 17 1966


ALAN EDMONDS September 17 1966

The intelligent addict’s guide to color TV


A family tiff about the tint-in Lome Greene's hair? Don't laugh: it could happen in your house —and soon

IT'S TAKEN SEVERAL YEARS of political debate, the retooling of an entire industry, an investment of countless millions, and one of the costliest promotion campaigns in Canadian history. But now the waiting period is over and the investment is starting to pay dividends. On September 1, Canada became the third country in the world (after the U. S. and Japan) to transmit color television.

This month, it may seem a maximum investment for the minimum return. Only about 60,000 Canadians own color TV sets and, even for these chosen few, the changes they’ll observe this month won't be exactly startling. They’ll tune in to such color shows as Batman or Jackie Gleason on CTV instead of on a U. S. channel. Later this season, they’ll be able to view old black-and-white shows, such as Front-Page Challenge, in color on the CBC.

But the real change will come gradually, as color TV becomes less of a novelty and more of a necessity for most Canadians. And the change may be less gradual than you think: by 1970. according to the Electronic Industries Association of Canada, almost one third of Canadian viewers will have invested between $700 and $2,000 each in what the Fowler Report on broadcasting referred to as "this new toy of the electronics ind ustry.”

Why will so many Canadians switch to the new toy so soon? The main reason, according to people who’ve bought it already, is that color TV is much more than tinted black-and-white. It's practically a whole new environment. Researchers at Mad.aren advertising agency have found that Canadian color viewers spend much more time in front of their sets than black-and-white viewers. More important, color seems to involve them far more deeply than black-and-white. One color viewer, MacLaren's president George Sinclair, found this involvement almost uncanny in its intensity: "1 seemed to be seeing all the beauties

of nature. I had the sense that I was seeing life as it really is, or perhaps as I would like it to look."

Part of the involvement stems from the I act that, with color TV. the viewer has to be a participant. Tuning a color set can be a tricky business—and it can become a matter of urgent family debate. The silver-blue oi Lome Greene's hair may look just right to the man who paid for the set; but it may appear washed out to his wàte, and too blue for his daughter.

If you are thinking of taking the color plunge, here are some pointers:

1. Beware of those ads that say, “Prepare for color now and buy such-and-such an antenna.” Your present black-and-white equipment may already be good enough to pick up acceptable color signals. Before you buy a new aerial, check to find out.

2. If you live in an apartment, be cagey about color. Don’t buy a set until you’ve had a free home demonstration. Reason: some community antenna systems aren’t good enough for color TV — and it's seldom possible to install your own aerial.

3. Buy the largest screen you can afford. Many viewers report that, for some reason, the impact of color is drastically curtailed by a small screen.

4. A color TV set is delicate—easily the most sophisticated piece of machinery you’re likely to have in your home. So don't move it around more than you have to.

5. Try to insist on a one-year service contract from your dealer when you buy a color set. Some sets may require several service calls before you’ll be satisfied with the reception, so make sure your dealer is prepared to let you have them as part of the bargain.

The new technology baffles experts who find that, for trees to look green, you've got to paint them yellow

WHEN NBC TECHNICIANS first broadcast Bonanza in color, they discovered a whole new range of exotic problems. When they adjusted their cam-

eras to bring out the lull bronzed beauty of the Cartwright family, the trees in the background came out blue. So NBC dyed them yellow'. Then they looked just fine.

This year, several thousand Canadian broadcasters and admen are going through the same baffling experience. They’re discovering that the “right” color of anything, from a box ot Tide to a chiffon nightdress to Sophia Loren's complexion, is very much a matter of opinion. Soon you'll be discovering the same thing.

CTV officials were forcibly reminded of this fact when they gave color-blindness tests to 65 staffers in Toronto. Only two were actually color blind, but 61 others with "normal" vision had trouble distinguishing between shades in various color ranges. Now one man with a weakness in magentas checks his color assessments with a man whose weakness is greens. One ol the biggest problems is finding the most acceptable coloring for blood, since everyone has a slightly different iecling about its redness or brownness. Advertisers' problems are often even more exotic. One adman spent several months tinkering with the color values on a commercial for a blue mouthwash. When he'd finally satisfied himseli that he’d got the tint exactly right, he screened the ad for the sponsor. The sponsor said no dice: to him. the stuff looked green. And after an informal poll of mouthwash executives, the sponsor's opinion prevailed.

Hang-ups like these stem from the fact that, even when you can prove with a color metre that a TV camera has accurately reproduced a given tint, it still may look wrong to the average viewer. Color broadcasters have even invented a new science to cope with the problem. They call it psychophysics, and psychophysics is all about compromise — the compromise between photographing color as it is, and how the viewer thinks it is. “We're in the business of making pictures that will be pleasing to the average viewer. So we've got to learn to compromise between what is scientifically accurate and what is psychologically acceptable.” says one CBC color technician.

The necessity for compromise gets even trickier when people or objects move around a stage set. They actually can change hue as they move from one color “environment” to the next. Our eyes, accustomed to compensating for these shifts, don’t record such color changes. But the TV camera does, and it can lead to some weird effects. A fair-complexioned actor who moves into the shade of a willow tree turns a pale, reflected green. Shadows may come out rainbow-colored. A dazzling op-art dress in red and orange may look like a muddy-brown dishrag on the color screen. Whiter-than-white shirts take on a bluish halo.

Avoiding effects such as these is the biggest problem broadcasters must face. It means higher production costs, and cultivation of a whole new set of technical skills, and some intriguing behindthe-scenes adjustments. This month — to cite just one example — Front-Page Challengers Pierre

Berton. Gordon Sinclair and Fred Davis are being lilted with brand-new color-co-ordinated dress shirts. On screen, they'll look exactly as dress shirts should: a pristine white. In reality, they'll be a dingy shade of grey.

The programs

Color them different

There’ll be more fires on newscasts, less talking in commercials — and maybe even prettier hockey games

THE TV REVOLUTION won't affect merely the color of the programs you'll be seeing: it's also going to affect the kind of shows that get produced.

Because it's easier to shoot color shows in studios, where color and lighting can be precisely controlled, there's bound to be an increase in panel shows, variety programs and productions that specialize in the cosy little interviews across a coffee table.

One such show is called Bright And Early, which CTV is broadcasting five mornings a week

The performers

Color them youthful

Tommy Hunter looks handsome, older actors look younger and Juliette looks slimmer. But she needs a new hairdo

There's good news, and problems, ahead for performers in color 7 V. Singer Tommy Hunter (above left) comes across K) years younger, hut Juliette (above) may see her blond hair turn green, and Front-Page Challenger Cordon Sine lair (left) must wear a dingy-grey shirt — so you’ll see it as sparkling white.

from 7.30 to 8.30, Monday to Friday. CTV's Let's Sing Out. a hootenanny show that used to be shot on various campuses, will move to the CBC network. Its CTV replacements, two tolkvariety shows called A Singin’ and Brand: New Scene, will be firmly anchored inside a color studio.

Both CBC and CTV arc offering color shows every day of the week, which will be available to all affiliated stations. This means that 71 stations, reaching about 5.3 million households will be programming network color. But locally produced shows are still in the planning stages: few are expected to surface before next year. Most of them will be talk shows.

The CBC's present color schedule—and it's still being juggled—offers about 25 hours of color programming per week. Most of it will be U. S. network series such as The Beverly Hillbillies, Hogan’s Heroes and The Ed Sullivan Show. Later this season, you'll see such Canadian shows as Flashback, Front-Page Challenge, Festival and Show Of The Week in color most weeks—but not always. One new series is called A World Of Music, starring folksingers Malka and .loso.

CTV is planning 43 hours of color per week, but it will rise as high as 50 hours. One notable color highlight will be CTV's national news, with anchormen Ab Douglas and Harvey Kirck. The nightly newscast has been lengthened to 20 min-

utes. and CTV newsmen say that many of the film clips—as well as Douglas and Kirck—will be in color. “You'll be seeing a lot more lires, predicts one broadcaster.

The biggest show, of course, will be Hockey Night In Canada. Seasoned viewers report that hockey is a beautiful game to watch in color, some even say it's easier to tollow the puck. And it could get even prettier. Already, there’s been wishful talk among admen of changing the Toronto Maple Leafs’ jerseys to a lighter blue, for purely aesthetic reasons.

The color commercials may turn out to be almost as entertaining. For tun. see it you can spot the difference in some of the labels. The Molsons beer label you'll see on color TV. tor instance, doesn't really exist. It s a composite of seven superimposed film shots designed to approximate the real thing which, because of its typography and metallic sheen, was impossible to shoot normally.

Also, look for less talk on TV ads. One ad agency. Cockfield, Brown, recently hired two sociologists to plumb the psyches ot color viewers in French and E'.nglish Canada. They lound that the voice-over content in ads lelt even less of an impression on color viewers than it does in blackand-white. Another ad-agency survey has added another complication to biculturalism: French-

speaking viewers favor much brighter colors.

IF COLOR TV can alter the image of a beer label, what can it do to people and popular performers? Will it kill oft some old favorites the way the talkies did? Or will it make them all the more endearing and glamorous to their fans?

At the moment only the viewer can answer those questions. As for Canadian artists, they'll have to find out by trial and error. So far, limited color tests on well-known performers have produced some contradictory results.

Color TV does not flatter blondes, unless their hair is beige or almost white. Dyed blondes with a yellowish tint tend to turn green—which is urgent news for Juliette. She'll be seen in color on some CBC Show Of The Week specials. She’s spent years evolving exactly the right hair tint for black-andwhite TV. Now she may have to switch tints again—or use a wig.

Some male blonds have trouble with their skin tone, which comes out on the screen Rubens cherubic. l ike husky Danish actor and former dancer Kd Siguard. one of the guinea pigs at a recent ( B( “color-lab" training course in Toronto. As he appeared on the color monitor, a blond Tarzan with a baby-doll complexion. the makeup girl moaned softly. "Oh no! I worked for hours on him and

he's still so pink." Veteran actor Joe Austin's first brush with color was equally unsettling. To make his hair look white for Forest Rangers, it was doused with yellow food coloring.

Singer Tommy Hunter, who had a makeup problem in black - and - w hite, came out of the CBC lab with flying, flattering colors. The special color-TV makeup, which is much lighter than the black-and-white variety, gave him a clear, smooth complexion and seemed to take 10 years off his age. "Color's a wonderful medium to work in." said Hunter, beaming after comparing his two selves on the side-by-side color and black-andwhite monitors in the studio. The same makeup does wonders for freckles and wrinkles but it won't hide a heavy jaw line, a too-ruddy complexion or a tan.

Color's greatest gift is to the girl with a hippy figure. The three-dimensional quality takes off inches, while the flatness of black-and-white spreads them out.

But if color TV makes most performers look younger, it also makes it harder to fake old age. "You can't deceive the camera with grey-streaked makeup in the hair,” says one ( BC makeup technician. Phis could mean the sudden return of a lot of old-time actors who've lately found it hard to get parts. ^