4/30/1969 – ‘Shoot Select-A-Vision. Slide film for RCA w/Chuck Olsen.’

Historical information provided by The Jim Henson Company Archivist:

Jim was always interested in the latest audio and video technologies so when he was asked in 1969 and 1970 to work on two consumer electronics market research projects for RCA, he was enthusiastic. The first was to explore consumer demand for Prerecorded Electronic Video Systems, precursors to home video players. The RCA product, originally called Teledisc and then renamed Select-a-Vision, involved playing a grooved record-like vinyl disc (known in the industry as a CED or Capacitance Electronic Disc) to show footage on televisions.

That April, Jim and Jerry Juhl created a 6-minute slide film (the mid-20th century version of a Power Point) called “Introducing… Select-A-Vision”. The presentation, created to show to focus groups, featured still images (mostly obtained from NBC) that were projected on a TV set to represent the best of television programming while a narrator explained the new product concept. Images also included people of all types and ages enjoying programming of their choice accompanied by an audio track voicing their interest in and excitement for the technology. Jim’s slide film made a good case for the product, but according to Jerry Juhl, the Select-A-Vision in the format presented didn’t actually exist in 1969. He said that RCA had them make the slide film to see if there was consumer interest; if it seemed like there was a market for it, RCA would then ask their engineers to invent it. This product was never made, but eventually the name was used for a different but related technology.

The following year, Jim shot a host of mostly musical performances to demonstrate the audio advantages of a new RCA Stereo Television. These included a folk duet (Randy and Yvonne Rankin) performing “Changes”, an Afro rock group (Tad Truesdale’s group) performing “Adunde”, a string quartet, a rock group (Horatio), Jim and Frank Oz performing “Mahna Mahna”, and a jazz combo (Joe Raposo, Ed Shaughnessy, Danny Epstein, Toots Thielemans, and Bobby Cranshaw) playing “Windmills of Your Mind”. To further demonstrate a variety of sounds, he filmed a stock car race and a dramatic piece of a woman on a telephone call. The parts were edited together to create a 20 minute videotape extolling the virtues of RCA’s product.

See a sample from Jim’s RCA Stereo television demonstration film.

To learn more about Select-A-Vision technology, go to: http://www.cedmagic.com/history/holotape.html

RCA Select-A-Vision Storyboard panels by Jim, 1969.

RCA Select-A-Vision Storyboard panels by Jim, 1969.

RCA Select-A-Vision Storyboard panels by Jim, 1969.

RCA Select-A-Vision Storyboard panels by Jim, 1969.

RCA Select-A-Vision Storyboard panels by Jim, 1969.

RCA Select-A-Vision Storyboard panels by Jim, 1969.

RCA Select-A-Vision Storyboard panels by Jim, 1969.

RCA Select-A-Vision Storyboard panels by Jim, 1969.

RCA Select-A-Vision Storyboard panels by Jim, 1969.

Read more from Jim Henson’s Red Book in Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal available from Chronicle Books.

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