As a kid growing up in hot Arizona from the late 60’s, I watched a lot of re-run TV shows from the comfort of my swamp-cooled bedroom. Shows like Star Trek, Time Tunnel, Man from UNCLE, Gilligan’s Island, Brady Bunch,MASH, and Gunsmoke were staples on our Black-n-White TV.
Recently, I stumbled across the web site, Archive of American Television, which documents old TV shows orally by video interviewing actors, producers, writers, and industry executives. Hundreds of videos describing the TV show process with a behind-the-scenes look from various perspectives. I recently watched some videos from Robert Justman (producer of Star Trek), James Arness (Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke), William Shatner (Captain Kirk on Star Trek), Alan Alda (MASH). Lots of good videos if you’re an old TV show buff.
In addition to the AAT site, there’s also hundreds of videos available from YouTube.com under the TVLEGENDS category, most of which come from AAT.
Instead of watching these videos directly on the AAT and YouTube.com web sites, I use an application called Orbit that allows me to download the video content onto my desktop PC as FLV video files. I then convert the FLV files to AVI format using a program called FFmpeg (with a DOS batch file), and finally convert the AVI files to WMV format using Windows Media Batch Encoder. I know it sounds like a big production to do the conversions, but most of it is run automatically with batch files and batch encoding. The only issue I’ve had is some video/audio out-of-sync situations because of low frame rate setting for some of the FLV files.
So if you’re interested in the behind-the-scenes of old TV shows, check out those sites and be ready for some real entertainment!