ITE - Innovative Television Equipment
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ITE - Innovative Television Equipment 

FROM AN ADVERTISEMENT HANDED OUT BY ITE THAT WAS REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM: "ON LOCATION MAGAZINE" THE FILM & VIDEOTAPE PRODUCTION MAGAZINE

Equipment

 

 

Innovative Television Equipment 
Taking A bITE Out Of The
Camera Accessories Market

By IAIN BLAIR

 

Bert Rosenberg, President of ITE and chief design engineer.

The three-letter logo, ITE, on the side of the company's world headquarters in Woodland Hills, Calif., may not have the familiar ring of IBM or RCA, but in its own way it spells out a success story that is no less impressive than those of such globally influential super-companies. For ITE stands for Innovative Television Equipment, one of the country's leading operations in both the design and manufacture of camera support equipment. And even if you don't recognize the name, the chances are you're using one of their camera heads, tripods, dollies, pedestals, carts or other accessories in a wide array of applications ranging from broadcast and industrial to educational and closed-circuit television.

The company was formed in the late '60s by president Bert Rosenberg and vice president/treasurer Stanton Hollingsworth, who originally met while working for Houston Fearless, a well-known support equipment manufacturer at that time. "I was there for some 12 years before teaming up with Stanton and leaving to form ITE in May 1969," explains Rosenberg, who graduated in engineering from UCLA in the '50s. "It just seemed like a natural move for both of us, especially as the marketplace was wide open at the time and there were an enormous amount of changes taking place in the business. You've got to remember that even back then, there were vast reductions in the weight of cameras along with all the new, emerging color technology and lower cost equipment, and it opened the doors for innovations and changes in the support business as well."

"Bert had seen the weight of a television camera drop dramatically, from over 300 pounds down to 150 pounds, while we were still at Houston Fearless," comments Hollingsworth, "and realized at the same time there simply weren't any new pieces of camera support equipment out on the market to deal with such developments. So we sat down and came up with a plan and a clear-cut objective to create a whole new line of support equipment to service the emerging lines of low-weight, lower-cost color television cameras."

"The broadcast support business is a very small, tight fraternity, and no one seemed to have a handle on these or any other future developments," continues Rosenberg. "So when we went ahead and formed ITE, we got a lot of initial encouragement and enthusiasm from all the big boys at the major camera manufacturers. It's always been a good balance, as my background as a mechanical designer and engineer is complemented and balanced by Stanton's training as a financial expert and CPA - those were the basis of the company, making sure we covered both ends of the business."

A few products to start

Having struck out on their own, Rosenberg and Hollingsworth decided to test the waters by initially designing and manufacturing just three or four products. "I sat down and designed a studio pedestal, a pan and tilt head, a tripod and a dolly

that was our complete line. We also started by getting all of these manufactured by an outside company," he adds. By contrast, today, ITE manufactures over 50% of its product line on its own premises, and that line has expanded to over 85 products - "so many, we just stopped counting," laughs Rosenberg.

Despite such impressive statistics, it wasn't always an easy road for the two partners, as they willingly admit. "All that initial enthusiasm and encouragement from the major camera manufacturers evaporated pretty quickly," says Hollingsworth. "After about half an hour!" recalls Rosenberg. "Of course everyone is very wary of dealing with a brand new company, even if they know your past record is good," he continues. "And if someone's going to spend half a million bucks on cameras, they're not going to take many chances on the heads turning out to be duds. Consequently, the first few years were extremely rough for us. It was very slow, and things weren't helped much when we were also hit by a very bad recession in the early to mid-'70s.

"In fact, I remember a time when we were sitting on some 75 pedestals stacked out at a warehouse at LAX that were just collecting dust and taking up an awful lot of space," recalls Rosenberg. "Business was so slow that we seriously considered selling them off cheap as seaanchors! Fortunately, things turned around in the nick of time, and our tenacity and stubbornness not to give in suddenly paid off. And since then, we haven't looked back. But we've never forgotten those days of struggle either, and I think that's always helped us concentrate on the value of good service and the highest possible quality of product."

Much of ITE's success is due to sound, long-term financial planning, as Hollingsworth explains. "When we started, we knew that the expense of manufacturing our own prototypes would be prohibitive, and that would severely limit our ability to experiment with a design. So we immediately began looking around for the most cost-effective methods of manufacturing, and after extensive research, we decided on opening up an Australian company for the simple reason that at that time, one tooling hour was costing just under $4, while in the U.S. the same work was costing closer to $40 - ten times as much as in Australia. So it was primarily an economically motivated move, which then allowed us the luxury of being able to tryout various prototype designs at a relatively low cost.

"We basically go through three prototype stages," reports Hollingsworth. "We start with the engineering prototype, in which Bert designs a new product to specifically accommodate a new piece of camera equipment. We'll then produce five or 10 of these prototypes and then choose between six and 10 dealers to test them, and see what comments and suggestions they have to make.

"The second stage is the redesign process," he continues. "We incorporate all of these ideas and changes, and then do a sizable run of the product. For instance, if it's a studio pedestal, we might make 10 to 15. If it's a tripod, the figures would be closer to 25 to 50. We then distribute those to the field as finished products, but we also track them all very carefully. We make a point of following up by both mail and phone calls to get more comments and suggestions - anything to add to a final evaluation of the product."



 

ITE markets nearly 20 different types of heads, ranging from their top-of-the-line ITE-100 Hydrocam model, which includes dual handles and wedge adapter, down to their ITE-H30 fluid head model. All models are equipped with either single or dual-control handles, and the single-handle models may also be ordered with a second, optional handle. All their fluid and hydro models include an integral spirit level, and like the tripods, are all finished in black wrinkle to reduce light bounce to an absolute minimum.



 


Bert Rosenberg (right) and Stan Hollingsworth with a production model of the new ITE-P2 studio pedestal,
 a "low-boy" version of ITE's extremely successful ITE-P1 pneumatic studio pedestal seen at right.

 
Stan Hollingsworth, ITE's Vice President/ Treasurer.
   
Michael Rosenberg, ITE's Sales Manager. provides design input for a new tripod head.

 

 

"This process then leads to the final design, which is basically then chiseled in granite," adds Rosenberg. "By this point, it has to be absolutely right in every possible respect, because this final design will have a life of between 10 and 15 years. And at this stage of the product, we also commit to more expensive tooling and permanent casting, etc. And, of course, we now also update and retrofit that first production run - which, in reality, was a prototype run.

"This three-part method hasn't changed at all over the 16 years of ITE's history, so it definitely works," Rosenberg continues. "But on the other hand, the time taken to get through all three stages has increased dramatically. We used to be able to design a completely new product, do all the testing, and get it out there in a relatively short time period, perhaps within one year in most cases. But today, it usually takes a good two years to complete the same steps - for a number of reasons. For a start, there's the increasing sophistication of the products themselves, and the increase in sophistication of designs requires increased sophistication in the tooling and manufacturing processes. On top of that, there's been an enormous increase in the number of dealers now working in the marketplace out there."

Widespread dealer network

"When we started in the late '60s, we only really dealt with three big companies: RCA, General Electric and Visual Electronics, and they represented over 90% of our total business," points out Rosenberg. "But today, it's a very different scenario. You now have 11 camera manufacturers and they represent a mere 20% of our sales. The reason for this huge change is that those camera manufacturers now sell primarily through dealers. Now, I do spend time talking with Ikegami, Hitachi, Philips, Sharp, Sony and others, but the reality of the business today is that it's all done through the dealers."

Because of this swing, ITE now spends a lot of time talking with the camera manufacturers for their basic input on design issues, says Rosenberg. "Their input is extremely important for both our endproduct and our relationship with the dealers. We now have a widespread dealer network consisting of almost 200, right across the country. It averages out to about four per state, although obviously that number is a lot higher in the large urban areas such as Southern California,

New York, Texas and Florida. In fact, our best area is the Southeast, stretching from Texas to Florida and up the East Coast, and we think that's partly due to the fact that a lot of production facilities either moved there or set up operations in those areas in recent years."

As proof of their enormous success in all areas throughout the country, Rosenberg and Hollingsworth have some pretty impressive sales figures at their fingertips. Over the past 16 years, ITE has sold over 30,000 tripods; 19,000 dollies; 6,000 studio pedestals; and a staggering 35,000 pan-and-tilt heads - fluid, cam and torsion. Their current list of professional broadcast and audio/video closed-circuit television products includes a wide range of tripods, from the camera-load capacity of 10 pounds for the ITE- T30 model to the 250-pound capacity of the ITE-MT1 model; they all combine lightweight and ruggedness of design, and are offered in a wide number of ball leveling, elevation and non-elevation models.

ITE markets nearly 20 different types of heads, ranging from their top-of-the-line ITE-100 Hydrocam model, which includes dual handles and wedge adapter, down to their ITE-H30 fluid head model. All models are equipped with either single- or dual-control handles, and the single handle models may also be ordered with a second, optional handle. All their fluid and hydro models include an integral spirit level, and like the tripods, are all finished in black wrinkle to reduce light bounce to an absolute minimum.

The company offers seven studio pedestals, including its new ITE-P2 pneumatic model. "It's essentially the same as our very successfulITE-P1 model," explains Rosenberg, "except that in response to today's increasing use of low and ground-level camera angles, we've further reduced the minimum height from 29 inches down to 26 inches. At the same time, we also increased the diameter of the steering wheel from 26 inches up to 30 inches for easier handling and maneuverability. So you can see we're constantly updating and improving models to cope with a marketplace that's constantly changing. We're not involved in the consumer market at all, we're purely in the business of professional broadcast, industrial and closed-circuit television applications, and our clients are always looking for some new capability as the basic camera technology moves into new areas."

A cut-throat market

Rapidly changing camera technology over the past few years has helped turn the camera support equipment business into a highly competitive and cut-throat market, Rosenberg goes on to point out in some detail. "You only have to look at the figures since the early '80s - some five years ago, ENG and EFP camera systems were selling for as much as $30,000, and the average cost of a tripod and head was around the $2,500 mark. But since then, the market has changed dramatically, and prices have dropped incredibly. Camera systems are now selling for around $8,000, and not only are they so much cheaper, but they also offer even higher-quality pictures, etc.

"Now, I don't think camera prices will drop much lower - there's a cutoff point where it changes from being a bargain to a suspect piece of equipment," continues Rosenberg. "But at the same time, those price drops have had a tremendous effect on our products, which after all are inextricably bound up with camera systems. Today, that same tripod and head pack age sells for just $700 - simply because no one's prepared to pay more, although they expect and demand the same quality, etc. And we try to give them the same quality."


Rick Low, ITE's Manufacturing Manager (left) checks the output of one of the numeric-tape controlled automated tooling machines.

 

 

"So this means that there's a great need to keep adjusting to these changing market conditions," comments Hollingsworth, "because if you don't, you're out of the market. We constantly have to balance these economic factors with quality control factors, and it's not easy. However, despite all these potential problems, our overall volume of sales has been steadily increasing over the years," he continues. "This is due to a number of factors. For a start, ITE has much better market penetration today, and our products are pretty well known everywhere; people know the sort of quality and service they'll get with our products.

"Secondly, it's basic psychology that as prices drop dramatically on a piece of equipment, the user tends to treat that equipment with less care and attention to maintenance," he points out. "If you have a $30,000 camera, you're going to look after it a lot better than an $8,000 system, and that's why there's a much faster turnover in camera equipment today. The same thing also holds true for camera support equipment. For instance, there's not really a lot that can go wrong with one of our tripods or heads - they're designed and built to last a long, long time. The factors that do contribute to obsolescence are a mixture of sheer physical wear-and-tear in the field, and above all, the changing requirements of camera systems themselves. Weight factors have changed incredibly over the years, as have basic design factors - and that means the balance of the camera, or the vertical center of gravity - consequently affecting critical design considerations for camera support equipment.

"Finally, overall falling prices now mean that many companies can afford to buy

two sets of tripods and heads, and use one set as a backup," adds Hollingsworth. "It also means that many smaller companies who previously simply couldn't afford in-house television capabilities are now able to do so. Obviously, our primary market and sales are still in the professional broadcast marketplace of both network-owned-and-operated stations and the independents. We pretty much cover the whole field of those 1,100 operations, and in some areas such as the Southern states, we're particularly big."

Wide range of clients

"We also cover the whole spectrum of industrial clients, ranging from the giants like IBM, Sears Roebuck, Mobil Oil, Chase Manhattan and General Motors to hospitals and medical facilities, religious broadcasters, etc.," reports Hollingsworth. "And last but not least, we also cover the entire cable television marketplace, including pay-TV, as well as a host of universities and colleges. Educational training is also very big, and religious programming stations are a particularly impressive growth industry today - they all have their own TV studios, which are fully equipped with the latest technology." With its aggressive marketing strategies and successfully expanding marketplaces and clientele, ITE today operates plants in both Southern California and Brisbane, Australia, with a third recent addition located outside Tokyo, Japan. "We employ 23 staff at our 16,000 square-foot facility here, and another 17 staff at our Brisbane 17,000 square-foot facility," reports Rosenberg. "Meanwhile, our operation in Japan currently produces some six products for us which they manufacture with our design input, etc.

"We're pretty excited about the future," sums up Rosenberg. "ITE is expanding in all areas, including the European and Asian marketplaces. We've established

ourselves through sheer dependability and longevity- and we feel that our products are of high quality and competitively priced (even though competing in a foreign market). And we always deliver as required.

"On top of that, we're also planning to diversify into other areas in the near future," he adds, "and not necessarily in the camera support business, although it will be allied with it. We'll have something of an electronics nature to unveil at next year's NAB show. But beyond that, we're keeping it all under wraps right now."

Whatever surprises ITE has in store, it seems certain that this small but tough company, which has already successfully carved itself a very healthy slice of the camera support equipment pie, is looking at a bright future indeed.

ITE Is headquartered In a modern 16,000 square foot facility In Woodland Hills, CA.

ite_-_8.jpg (92922 bytes) HUGE PHOTO OF THE ONE ABOVE - CLICK TO SEE LARGE!

ON LOCATION The Film and Videotape Production Magazine, October 1985

 

 

 

INNOVATIVE TELEVISION EQUIPMENT 6445 De Soto Avenue
P. O. Box 681 . Woodland Hills, CA 91365 . (213) 888-9421

P1 PNEUMATIC STUDIO PEDESTAL

 

 

 

The ITE-P1 Studio Pedestal is the first and only camera support system to be designed to meet ASME pressure vessel safety codes, It incorporates computer-assisted design parameters and offers a virtually leakproof pneumatic

counterbalance system for totally safe operation. The counterbalance system utilizes fingertip control and handles camera loads up to 290 pounds through an elevation range of from 29% to 51 inches. Vertical and horizontal movement is controlled by the 26-inch-diameter steering wheel.

Both crab and tricycle steering is provided. Rolling resistance is held to a minimum by use of dual gimbaled eight-inch-diameter wheels at each corner. Each wheel assembly has its own adjustable cable guard,

The P1 counterbalanced Studio Pedestal is constructed with a cast aluminum base for light weight and structural integrity. The state-of -theart steering and bearing system provides trouble free operation and ultra-quiet performance,

The P 1 Pedestal interfaces with all ITE pan/tilt heads,

ITE is a leader in the design and manufacture of camera heads, dollies, pedestals and accessories for broadcast, industrial, educational and closed circuit television applications, Our products are in use by stations throughout the world,

The ITE product line has been designed with your camera in mind. ITE products provide professional camera support and control for virtually every video camera package manufactured, The ITE line is marketed worldwide by all camera manufacturers and by leading dealers and distributors.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

 

Camera Load Capacity - 290 Ibs, (130.50 kg,)

Minimum Height - 29,5" (73.75 em.)

Maximum Height - 51" (127.50 em.)

Air Pressure - Pressure relief valve opens at 200 PSI representing the 
equivalent overload condition of 300 lbs, (750 kg,)

Minimum Doorway Clearance - 30" (75 em.)

Wheelbase - 28.5" (71.25 em,)

Wheels  - Dual, 8" (20 cm,) diameter cast aluminum with polyurethane tires

Cable Guard Adjustable from 1/8" (0.31 em,) to 1" (2.5 em.) above floor

Construction - Cast aluminum structure with steel tank and outer column to 
ASME Pressure Vessel Safety Code; aluminum center column; vinyl coated, 26" 
(65 em.) diameter steering wheel

Finish - Black wrinkle hard coat


Prices and specifications subject to change without notice, 1983

Total Television Camera Support Equipment-From The Ground Up                                                                    Printed in U,S,A,

 

 

Interesting H-6 on a T-10 ITE Tripod with a small dolly  with the red  wheels... Had not seen a small ITE dolly  with the red wheels usually just the larger ones!

 

 

 
 

 

 

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