Chalk Hill Media's Virtual Museum

RCA TP-16A Film Projector

Before there was any video tape, most programs were shot on film.  In fact, until the mid 1970's film lived on in most TV stations.  The RCA TP-16 projector was a real work horse and very easy to use from the projectionists point of view.

It was quite easy to thread (or "lace up" as some called it).   This was important since a projectionist was a busy person, sometimes having only 30 seconds or less to prepare the next film commercial for air. It wasn't at all uncommon for the projectionist to let a commercial or news film dump on the floor, rather than take the time to thread it properly on the take up reel.

All threaded and ready to go, although the film is not properly cued.  Here it is shown with white leader. Usually a film had an "Academy Leader" which had a ten second count down for the image.  Usually, it went black after the 2 or 3 second mark.  The projectionist would cue the film to so the "3" second mark was being shown through the lens  When the film was called for, the Master Control operator would start the projector by remote control, precisely three seconds before it was needed on the air.  This gave the machine time to get up to speed and stabilize.  Getting a transition "just right" took some talent and practice.  A good working relationship between the projectionist and master control operator or director was essential to making the on air product look polished and professional.  early TV was very much a team effort.

Shown front and back.  The "Round Hump" contained a rotary five blade shutter which was necessary as part of the process to convert the standard film speed of 24 frames per second to the TV standard of 30 frames per second.  Without this technique, the picture would flicker and a strobe bar would crawl up the screen.   You couldn't use "just any" 16 millimeter projector as a source for TV broadcast.

The projection lamp hinged out so it could be changed easily.  These were usually 500, 750 or even 1000 watt lamps.  They were really HOT.  Gloves were recommended. Of course, if the lamp blows out during a program, it was important to change it as quickly as possible.

The entire lens and "gate" could be removed which made for easy cleaning, which was a regular part of every projectionists' day.