Syncing film rushes with Dawn Trotman and Oliver White

Copyright, Adapt Television History, Royal Holloway, University of London.

This video was recorded in August 2015 as part of Royal Holloway’s ADAPT project. The aim of the project is to recreate how television programmes used to be made, before digital technology. The project reunited Pebble Mill film editor, Oliver White, with former film assistant editor, Dawn Trotman. Oliver had a long and illustrious editing pedigree, cutting dramas like Nuts in May, The Red Shift, A Touch of Eastern Promise amongst many others. He retired as Avid editing came in. Dawn is now a freelance Avid editor, cutting programmes like Countryfile for many years. The ADAPT team asked Dawn and Oliver to demonstrate how film and sep-mag audio were synched up using a Picsync and Steenbeck. This film cutting room was in the London Film School.

Dawn Trotman with Oliver White

Dawn Trotman with Oliver White in the London Film School cutting room














The following comment was left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Roy Thompson: ‘Remember teaching all of these film techniques, sound transfer, syncing up, track laying and dubbing to the ITO course (Introduction to Technical Operations) at Wood Norton after being taught by Henry Fowler formerly of Pebble Mill. A great exercise in logic, and creativity, for the students who, in a group of 3 or 4, were given 200 foot of 16mm reversal to make a short film. Great learning even though by then single electronic cameras were making inroads into production and news gathering. Great memories.’


CMCR9 Reconstruction – Broadcast Magazine

Broadcast magazine May 2016

Broadcast magazine May 2016

In the middle of May 2016, there was a reconstruction of the operation of the 1969 outside broadcast truck, CMCR9, which was Pebble Mill’s original CM1, and later became Manchester’s North 1. The truck was neglected for many years, but is in the process of being restored by enthusiast Steve Harris.

The reconstruction brought together retired crew who used to work on the truck in the 1970s, and resulted in the recording of a darts match! CMCR9 used to broadcast a lot of sports programmes, like Match of the Day, but would also have recorded Come Dancing, Gardeners’ World, as well as dramas.

The reconstruction was organised by Royal Holloway, University of London, and their ADAPT research project, which is recording now defunct pieces of historical television broadcasting equipment being used by the people who worked on them.

The occasion was marked by this article in the industry trade magazine – Broadcast.

The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Stephen Neal: ‘Chap in the red sweater is Roger Neal, my dad. He worked for OBs in London when CMCR9 was based there. I appear to be continuing the family tradition of working for Auntie…’

Annie Gumbley-Williams: ‘I worked in CM1. Happy days, Gardeners’ World and others’

Roger Neal: ‘I also worked on a range of small units as well, several of them called Lo21, Lo22, and Lo23. One of the LO21s is currently residing in Brian Summers front garden I believe.’

Jim Gregory describes Telecine

Jim Gregory talks about telecine from pebblemill on Vimeo.

Specially recorded video of Jim Gregory describing the operation of telecine, both in terms of studio dramas, and the broadcasting of film in the 1960s-80s.

This film was recorded as part of Royal Holloway’s ADAPT project, led by John Ellis. The project is staging various ‘reconstructions’ of former television production stages and equipment. In this element, Pebble Mill’s Jim Gregory was introduced to his Television Centre counterpart, Tim Emblem-English, at BBC Post Production’s Ruislip centre, which still houses an operational Rank Cintel Mark 3 telecine. Jim is seen grading a piece of 1965 black and white footage of Birmingham, on the control desk.

Dave Schoolden & Jim Gregory 1976 in TK

Dave Schoolden & Jim Gregory 1976 in TK


Telecine Reconstruction with Jim Gregory

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Tim Emblem-English with Jim Gregory. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Rank Cintel Mark 3, with Jim and Tim. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

























Last Friday I was part of the team reconstructing how telecine operated in the 1960-80s. The shoot was organised by the Royal Holloway, University of London, ADAPT project, which aims to reconstruct now defunct television production techniques, and record them for posterity. The idea was to reunite the hugely experienced telecine operator, Jim Gregory, with a Rank Cintel Mark 3 machine dating from the late 1980s: a machine he hadn’t used for many years. We also wanted Pebble Mill’s Jim Gregory, to discuss telecine practices with his Television Centre conterpart, Tim Emblem-English – who still operates the Mark 3 on a daily basis.

We had hoped to find a working example of the Rank Cintel Mark 2, but unfortunately one does not seem to still exist. The Mark 3 is at the BBC Post Production centre in Ruislip, and is involved in film restoration work for the BBC and external clients. It is linked up to a control desk, monitors and a bank of different format recorders. Unfortunately the Post Production centre at Ruislip is due to close down next year, and it is unclear yet what is going to happen to all the equipment, although it is likely to be sold off, so it was important to get the filming completed.

The Rank Cintel Mark 2 was more important certainly in the televisual history of Pebble Mill, than the Mark 3, and was used to play film inserts into live television shows, and studio dramas. Jim worked on the Mark 2 machines for many years, but only used the Mark 3 briefly in the 1990s.

Jim had brought an old can of film down with him: black and white footage from the mid 1960s. The film shows the newsroom at the BBC Broad Street studio, as well as behind the scenes in the Gosta Green drama studio, and even drinking in the Gosta Green Club! It also shows street shots around Birmingham. The footage provides a fascinating social history of the time. The joints kept breaking – but then the tape holding them together was 50 years old! Jim was able to grade the pictures through the desk without any trouble. When he was asked what it felt like to be reunited with the Mark 3, he replied that it just felt totally normal, like riding a bike, and that you had to rely on your muscle memory rather than thinking about what you were doing. Tim and Jim could have swapped stories of close shaves in telecine during live transmissions for many hours: of occasions when rolls of film rolled away across the floor, of the challenges of trying to fix a problem whilst having Pres shouting down the phone to you, and of grading shots live as they went out.

Although Jim no longer operates telecine machines, he is still employed as a regular freelance grader at the BBC Drama Village in Birmingham, working on a Da Vinci, or Avid Symphony, on shows like Father Brown.

Vanessa Jackson