Bank of America Teleproduction
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The Bank of America teleproduction system - (RCA Broadcast News)


wpe9.jpg (434709 bytes) SAN FRANCISCO


LONG BEFORE the term "corporate communications" became a popular buzzword, the Bank of America was a practitioner of the art. The need for fast, accurate transmission of information was mandated by the continuing growth of branch banking in California, plus expanding domestic and world-wide financial operations.

The bank has been heavily involved in training and communications programs to link its widespread facilities. In1962, sound filmstrip projectors were installed

in all branches, serving as an effective system for disseminating information and training materials on a standard format.

TV Is Primary Medium Today

Today, television is the primary medium for corporate communications at Bank of America. A broadcast quality color television system installed at corporate headquarters in San Francisco produces program material which is distributed via video cassettes to a network of locations equipped with playback facilities-more than 1,100 in California alone.

Major uses of television are for staff and sales training and for disseminating information on a wide range of policies, procedures and programs.

First-Rate Teleproduction Center

The in-house television facility is not only broadcast quality-it also has fullscale teleproduction capability. The impressive equipment complement includes two TK-45A Studio Cameras; three TR-600 quadruplex VTR's; a color film island; a 16-input, double re-entry switcher; a Datatron computer editing system; a videocassette multiple tape duplicating facility, and a mobile unit equipped with a TPR-I 0 portable quadruplex VTR.

Responsible for the technical operation and performance of the TV system is Barry Joseph, who was Assistant Chief Engineer at KGUN-TV, Tucson before joining the bank in 1969. At that time, Mr. Joseph recalls, the bank had just finished installing a modest monochrome TV system which was initially used for "role playing" training applications. Other uses soon followed, including supplying some training tapes to 12 key regional offices which were equipped with video tape players.

The Bank of America teleproduction system includes a computer editing system with three TR-600 quadruplex tape machines. Responsible for technical operations is Chief Engineer Barry Joseph.

wpeB.jpg (584626 bytes) Videocassette Delivery System

With the introduction and rapid acceptance of the videocassette format, television became a much more viable vehicle, especially for corporate communications. In 1973, an independent research study recommended that television replace filmstrip as the principal medium for bank communications. With videocassettes serving as the delivery system, this study also recommended that the Bank of America monochrome television system' be upgraded to a high quality production center capable of producing high quality color tape masters for mass duplication to videocassettes.

Production Center Layout: Compact and Efficient

The Bank of America production center is a high density facility, packing a maximum of equipment into a limited area. The studio is compact, with a low ceiling, but is efficiently laid out to minimize these limitations. It is the same studio used for the monochrome operation, with Colortran lighting.

Despite its size, the studio can handle two-set productions and has a Chromakey cyc for added versatility. In fact, the small studio has advantages, according to Production Manager Norman Miller, in that it tests the ingenuity of the production staff. "We have a full two-camera studio, with no compromise in quality," he says. "And we can match our results with those of outside production facilities and not suffer from the comparison."

The two studio cameras are TK-45A's with 10: 1 Angenieux lenses. One of the cameras can also be used for remote assignments.

Like the studio, the tape and film area also squeezes a lot of capability into a limited space. In this room are the three TR-600 VTR's; the color film island; 10 videocassette record/playback machines; terminal and distribution racks; audio tape recorder; and a graphics table with two monochrome cameras-plus a workbench and maintenance area.

Like the studio, the tape and film area also squeezes a lot of capability into a limited space. In this room are the three TR-600 VTR's; the color film island; 10 videocassette record/playback machines; terminal and distribution racks; audio tape recorder; and a graphics table with two monochrome cameras-plus a workbench and maintenance area.

Production Control/Editing Center

Production Control is located between the studio and the Tape/Film room. It, too, features an efficient layout, fully utilizing available space. The room is on two levels, with the Datatron editing system, production switcher and audio board mounted on a raised platform. Directly in front of the master control and editing console are the camera control units and a bank of monitors which display all avaliable program sources. Two large color monitors are for Preview and Program. The rack for one of the TK-45 CCO's is separated from the other monitor and control racks, which permits moving one camera and CCU to the mobile van for handling remotes.

The production switcher is a Grass Valley 1600-3D, 16-input, double reentry, equipped with downstream keyer, RGB and encoded Chromakeyers. This last feature, Mr. Joseph says, is a frequently used production aid, since it permits adding chroma key material during post-production. "In fact," Norman Miller adds, "our production technique is basically film style, allowing


Setting up lighting for a studio production. Two TK-45A cameras are installed, one with a portable CCU for handling remotes

The end product of the B of A's TV system is videocassettes. Some of the dubbing requirement is handled by an internal duplicating facility.

Video control, switching, audio and computer editing facilities are grouped in one area
The Director handles video switching and also is responsible for post production editing.


wpeD.jpg (483030 bytes) us to shoot out of sequence while maximizing our use of production and post-production equipment and staff.

A 12-input, 4-channel Ward Beck audio console provides ample flexibility for audio requirements.

For most studio productions, one person handles audio; another video control, and the director does his own video switching. During post-production the director is responsible for the switching and Datatron editing functions.

Three TR-600's Provide Flexibility

The Datatron computer editing system is tied in to the three TR-600 tape machines and to a 4-track reel-to-reel audio tape recorder. One of the TR600's is designated as "Master Record"; one is "A" playback and the other "B" playback. When needed, however, any machine can be used for Master Record.

Mr. Joseph likes the operational features of the TR-600-the slanted transport deck, easy loading and simple threading. Their technical performance has also been excellent, he adds. The fast lock-up is helpful in editing, and the machines are very stable, requiring a minimal amount of set-up. This is an important consideration when operating with a limited technical staff.

The flexibility of having three TR-600's in the studio plus the TPR-10 portable quad machine in the van means that post-production for one show can be done while another show is being shot. After recording, the tape is run through the TR-600 again, and SMPTE time code data is laid down for editing. At the same time, a duplicate tape is made on the 3/4 -inch videocassette, with time code displayed. This copy is used for "rough edit decisions" which saves time on the quad machines, and also makes it easier to obtain internal approvals prior to final editing and release.

Remote Unit

The mobile unit is an Econoline 350 which is housed in the parking garage of the bank's headquarters. Designed for the bank's particular needs, it is equipped with two 6.5 kW generators, an audio mixer, monitoring facilities, and a TPR-10 Portable Quad VTR. One of the studio TK-45A's and its control rack is moved into the van when needed.

"The TPR-I0 is an extremely useful machine," Mr. Joseph confirms. "It does everything we ask of it, and makes possible handling remote productions with studio quality results.

"While on location, we shoot wild footage of stock subjects such as bank exteriors, street scenes, local color. We are building a library of material for production use. It has already saved us from having to take the van out for routine shots."

Handling Production Assignments

Most requests for television productions originate with the administrative operations in Bank of America headquarters, with less frequent requests coming from the Regional Offices (B of A has nine regions in California).

Dave Mebane, Vice President, Director of Training, receives the requests and determines whether the Audio-Visual group should be involved in the proposed project. If it is, the assignment is given to Larry Drummond, Assistant Vice President, head of Audio Visual. He assigns a priority, and the A V staff works with the group initiating the request. to determine requirements, budget and scheduling.

With a limited staff, scheduling sometimes becomes a problem, since projects tend to come in bunches. This creates a crunch situation and the priority system is needed to help even out the production load.

In handling a production involving a scripted presentation, meetings are scheduled with bank subject matter specialists, a writer and the A V staff. After the script has been approved, Mr. Drummond determines whether the production should be handled internally or by outside producer.

Mr. Drummond notes that the company's philosophy is to get the job done and done well, using internal resources to the fullest. To provide flexibility of operation, the Audio-Visual staff is small and specialized. For the television productions, professional talent as well as bank personnel are utilized.



TPR-10 Portable Quad VTR is used in the mobile unit.

Reviewing a TV script prior to production is Larry Drummond, Assistant Vice President, head of Audio Visual.

Mobile unit with TK-45A camera provides flexibility of handling on location assignments, including using outside studio facilities as needed.



wpeF.jpg (498191 bytes) Program Distribution

One of the key advantages of the videocassette format, according to Mr. Drummond, is the ability to re-cycle and re-use the cassettes. Program material produced for videocassette distribution falls into three general groupings:

1. Long-term use material-for retention in branch libraries as permanent reference.

2. Special materials sent out for short-term use, with branch copies returned after completion of the program.

3. Timed material, such as ad programs, commercials and similar information materials. These cassettes are also returned to headquarters for re-use.

The entire videocassette delivery system is computerized, so the location of all tapes issued can be tracked. This procedure is important in re-cycling the cassettes to maximize tape usage, Mr. Drummond remarks.

Since the video system has been in operation, about 26,000 cassettes have been issued. About 67% of these are for limited use and have been returned for erasing and re-use. The re-cycling stabilizes cost and reduces the tape investment substantially, adds Mr. Drummond.

There are now more than 1,100 videocassette players in Bank of America branches throughout California. Each branch is equipped with a standard system including a rolling stand with a color TV set on top and the videocassette player on a shelf below. Channel 5 or 6 is used for the cassette playback. A number of the Headquarters Training Rooms and other locations are also equipped with the standard videocassette systems. Expansion of the videocassette distribution network beyond California to cover other domestic and world-wide offices is planned.

Diversity of Programming

The television programs produced at Bank of America vary widely, ranging from extemporaneous presentations to tightly scripted shows. The distributed videocassette packages usually include related print support material such as leaders' guidebooks, posters, or handouts. Videocassettes are packaged in special boxes which also contain the print material. A printed label on the package identifies the subject by name and by pre-assigned library number.

The printed package label relates to the computer-controlled re-cycling operation. For example, if the cassette is to be returned, the gummed label showing the local branch address is peeled off, uncovering the return mail address to the A V Department at headquarters. The cassettes are distributed via inter-branch mail.

Some productions have been handled as "network delay", where the prerecorded program is duped to cassettes in limited quantities and sent to selected branches. The tapes are played at each location at a designated time, and a coordinated, pre-scheduled telephone network arrangement permits two-way conversation between the branches and headquarters where the individual responsible for the program content answers questions or elaborates on any part of the tape presentation.

Quick Turn-Around

Among the advantages of television for corporate communications are its immediacy and quick turn-around time. The Annual Founder's Day message exemplifies these advantages. The program was taped in the headquarters studio on Friday; edited Saturday, and sent out for duplication Monday. By Friday, complete videocassette packages were in all Bank of America branches. The internal videocassette duplicating facility is used for dubbing a limited number of copies of a program. Beyond this, the material is given to a commercial duplicating operation. In either case, the master edited quad tape is not used for duplicating. A dub-master is made for this purpose.

A ward-Winning Productions

Post-production is given major emphasis at Bank of America. Computer editing combined with a variety of creative production techniques-inserts; Chromakey; special effects-enhance the professionalism and quality of their productions. The high performance standards have been recognized by fellow professionals-the bank's audio visual section has been awarded two "Emmy's" by the Northern California Chapter of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Performance Breeds Popularity

The professional quality productions have made management more aware of the technical capability of their television center, and of the competence of the A V staff in handling the job. Consequently the TV Center finds itself in demand and booked solid. Quality color TV production combined with a computerized videocassette recycling program have made television a cost-effective medium for Bank of America. 


Classroom training facilities at Bank of America headquarters are equipped with portable television systems on rolling stands. Systems include color TV sets and videocassette players.

Videocassette training packages usually include related print support material such as leader's guidebooks and handouts.



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