Straight Dope Message Board

Straight Dope Message Board (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/index.php)
-   General Questions (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/forumdisplay.php?f=3)
-   -   Why is there no video footage of Philippe Petit's WTC tightrope walk? (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=797059)

SlackerInc 06-28-2016 08:09 AM

Why is there no video footage of Philippe Petit's WTC tightrope walk?
 
Ever since I saw "Man on Wire" and was like "WTF, after all that, all you have are still photos?!?" I have wondered about this. It's so strange that he brought someone along to film it, but the guy didn't get a single second of footage because he was "too exhausted". Stranger still that TV news stations didn't get any. :dubious:

I'm not wanting to get into conspiracy theories along the "moon landing was a hoax!" variety, and I understand that if it really was a hoax, the contemporaneous newspaper stories about it would have inspired a lot of New Yorkers to react with "I was in that neighborhood and nothing like that happened". I just want to know, where is the footage--and if there really is none, how could that possibly happen?

Jim's Son 06-28-2016 10:32 AM

He did it without any advance warning so it would have taken time to get TV cameras down there or in the air. The news channels may not have even saved it. For example, very little footage of Walter Cronkite doing the CBS evening News in the 1960s or lots of sporting events...the tape was often re used. Much footage from the 1973 World Series between the New York Mets and Oakland A's doesn't exist so Petit's walk could have suffered the same fate, if it even got filmed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiping...ries_telecasts

SlackerInc 06-28-2016 01:25 PM

Huh. That's messed up. I referenced Apollo earlier, and I have read that high-quality footage of the moon landing was erased because NASA reused the tapes. The shortsightedness and stupidity is incomprehensible but not unprecedented.

Czarcasm 06-28-2016 01:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SlackerInc (Post 19439782)
Huh. That's messed up. I referenced Apollo earlier, and I have read that high-quality footage of the moon landing was erased because NASA reused the tapes. The shortsightedness and stupidity is incomprehensible but not unprecedented.

Where did you read this?

SlackerInc 06-28-2016 01:39 PM

http://www.npr.org/2009/07/16/106637...pollo-11-tapes

Czarcasm 06-28-2016 01:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SlackerInc (Post 19439831)

Damn.

SlackerInc 06-28-2016 02:11 PM

Yeah. :( Sorry to ruin your day.

Colophon 06-28-2016 02:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Czarcasm (Post 19439880)
Damn.

Nothing was really "lost". The original data tapes of the TV broadcast were wiped, but the equipment to read that format doesn't exist any more. The TV broadcasts were produced by filming the monitor that displayed the images, and we still have all that footage, as well as the 16mm film footage and all the still photos.

In other words, we haven't lost anything, but we don't have the first-generation data that would probably have enabled us to see a better quality version of the TV pictures.

Now, we return you to your regularly scheduled discussion.

TSBG 06-28-2016 02:59 PM

I'm a documentary filmmaker and this is one bane of our existence. But you have to remember that the tapes were expensive and took up a lot of room. For a local TV station today it's a room of hard drives, then it could be a building with all the costs that that entails. I remember talking to a Wyoming TV station about footage from the 1970s. I was told they'd sent it all to the dump in the 90s.

In 1990, I was at a post facility and talked to a guy who was in charge of trashing ABC's 1972 Olympics footage. I'm sure they kept highlights and finals, and everything to do with the Israeli athletes, but early heats of the canoe competition? Lost to history.

Colophon, I'm not so sure the equipment to play the tapes doesn't exist--these types of tape do still exist, and unless there's a demand they may not have been transferred to another format. I see this with archive houses where, for example, they have 16mm film of something, but they don't digitize it unless a customer wants it.

ETA, I take it back--looking at the story, I can't tell what format was used. I thought it would have been 2-inch video. So I don't know whether there's still gear around to read that kind of tape.

Hail Ants 06-28-2016 03:45 PM

It also happened in 1974. News crews were still using film more than videotape back then. Portable video cameras and recorders were large, bulky, cumbersome and expensive. They also used a lot of electricity and battery tech back then was not good either. And they would have had to haul all that gear up to the roof. Even using the elevators (if they were even allowed inside) it would still have been impractical. The news crews were probably expecting him to fall and therefore felt being on the street would be a better vantage point anyway.

There may have been some video footage shot from the street but it wouldn't have been very exciting to watch and most likely was not saved.

PastTense 06-28-2016 03:47 PM

The question that immediately arises is if the tightrope walk was illegal. Most of these are. And if it is illegal you don't want the authorities to show up and arrest you before you can do it. Thus you are very careful about early notifications.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker 06-28-2016 03:49 PM

Odd that nobody thought to whip out their phones.Just kidding!

kenobi 65 06-28-2016 03:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PastTense (Post 19440198)
The question that immediately arises is if the tightrope walk was illegal. Most of these are. And if it is illegal you don't want the authorities to show up and arrest you before you can do it. Thus you are very careful about early notifications.

It was absolutely illegal; Petit worked covertly with a team to figure out how to string the cable, and then to actually do so.

In the end, all charges against him were dropped.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip...de_Center_walk

Czarcasm 06-28-2016 04:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker (Post 19440209)
Odd that nobody thought to whip out their phones.Just kidding!

Odd that nobody has linked up to the many YouTube videos, some of which show cell phone pics from curious onlookers.

Jim's Son 06-28-2016 04:47 PM

I suppose some tourist could have taken footage on a Super 8 movie camera..those were relatively small and may exist in some one's attic.

Johnny L.A. 06-28-2016 05:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hail Ants (Post 19440193)
It also happened in 1974. News crews were still using film more than videotape back then. Portable video cameras and recorders were large, bulky, cumbersome and expensive. They also used a lot of electricity and battery tech back then was not good either.

A question that comes up about Monty Python's Flying Circus (and other shows) is why they used videotape indoors and film outdoors.

Just Asking Questions 06-28-2016 06:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. (Post 19440432)
A question that comes up about Monty Python's Flying Circus (and other shows) is why they used videotape indoors and film outdoors.

Because video tape outdoors looks "wrong". It is very obvious. Must be something about the frame rate and camera movements outside vs in the studio, because sitcoms (shot indoors) don't look wrong on VT, but take that same show outside with the same camera and it looks odd.

SlackerInc 06-28-2016 08:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hail Ants (Post 19440193)
It also happened in 1974. News crews were still using film more than videotape back then. Portable video cameras and recorders were large, bulky, cumbersome and expensive. They also used a lot of electricity and battery tech back then was not good either. And they would have had to haul all that gear up to the roof. Even using the elevators (if they were even allowed inside) it would still have been impractical. The news crews were probably expecting him to fall and therefore felt being on the street would be a better vantage point anyway.

There may have been some video footage shot from the street but it wouldn't have been very exciting to watch and most likely was not saved.

Footage from the street is actually what I had been hoping to see. Just something that gave an impression of what it looked like to onlookers down below.

Dewey Finn 06-28-2016 08:17 PM

I don't think footage shot from the street would show anything. I think you wouldn't be able to see the wire at all and the man would be just a speck in the image.

Czarcasm 06-28-2016 08:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker (Post 19440209)
Odd that nobody thought to whip out their phones.Just kidding!

In 1974, they would be whipping out one of these. :D

SlackerInc 06-28-2016 08:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dewey Finn (Post 19440813)
I don't think footage shot from the street would show anything. I think you wouldn't be able to see the wire at all and the man would be just a speck in the image.

I could see people from the top of the Sears Tower.

TSBG 06-28-2016 09:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Czarcasm (Post 19440255)
Odd that nobody has linked up to the many YouTube videos, some of which show cell phone pics from curious onlookers.

Is this a whoosh?

JRDelirious 06-28-2016 09:13 PM

Hey, people will believe anything.

But yes, basically this time and place was not the "recording all the time" type of society we now know, and the average tourist may have a snapshot camera or an 8mm without any sort of fancy zoom lens that would help litle.
Quote:

Originally Posted by kenobi 65 (Post 19440244)
It was absolutely illegal; Petit worked covertly with a team to figure out how to string the cable, and then to actually do so.

In the end, all charges against him were dropped.

In exchange for doing a free public performance for children. And he got a free lifetime pass to the observation deck.

They probably figured they'd have to release a couple dozen muggers and pushers to make room for those couilles of his at the Tombs. And that any copycats would be a very quickly self-correcting problem ;)

jayjay 06-28-2016 10:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. (Post 19440432)
A question that comes up about Monty Python's Flying Circus (and other shows) is why they used videotape indoors and film outdoors.

A lot of BBC shows from the 60s/70s did that. I think I first experienced it with old Tom Baker Doctor Who episodes on PBS.

CurtC 06-28-2016 10:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Czarcasm (Post 19440826)
In 1974, they would be whipping out one of these. :D

In 1974, it would have been more like one of these.

My dad had one in his car.

Isilder 06-29-2016 08:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Colophon (Post 19439930)
Nothing was really "lost". The original data tapes of the TV broadcast were wiped, but the equipment to read that format doesn't exist any more.

Equipment to read the tape format is quite easy to create as a lab prototype... rig up a machine to do reel to reel.. sit on the tape a magnetic head (still used in hard drives.. just grab one of them hey ?) and connect that into a little circuit that biases the head, amplifies/adjusts the signal resulting, demodulate if you like, to be just right for an analog to digital convertor .. which easily samples it far faster than required. Thereafter the computer program demodulates (if needed), converts it into lines, frames.. having saved it as so many millions's of frames (bitmaps of each frame) the job is done, thats a form of video.. conversion to a format you know, such as mp4, is trivial

Atamasama 06-29-2016 11:56 AM

No intact full recording of the first Super Bowl exists despite the fact that it was simulcast by two different networks (NBC and CBS). It was the first NFL game to be broadcast on two different networks and the only Super Bowl (so far). Both networks wiped their tapes afterward.

NFL Films had a camera crew there to film plays and eventually stitched together a video showing each play, but even that isn't the same as having a contiguous recording of the game with commentary. And for years (up until this year in fact) all we had available for posterity were highlights of the game.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap300...for-first-time

Hail Ants 07-01-2016 01:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. (Post 19440432)
A question that comes up about Monty Python's Flying Circus (and other shows) is why they used videotape indoors and film outdoors.

British shows of the time (Fawlty Towers did it too) did this not only because, as I said video cameras & recording decks were cumbersome and power hungry, but also because it rains in Britain. A lot. And bad weather & early electronic video equipment don't mix.

Amateur Barbarian 07-01-2016 08:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Isilder (Post 19441667)
Equipment to read the tape format is quite easy to create as a lab prototype...

I assure you that whatever format was used to record the Apollo XI mission still exists... it's just not in anyone's studio rack any more. Collectors, old-school archivists, even museums... there's a 2-inch tape player (or whatever) ready to take the reels right now. For one thing, that would be commercial gear, built like a Mercedes tank.

I had a friend who made lots of beer money by keeping a PC, ca. 1995, with every drive that far known to man and geek attached. He could move data off everything from magstripe cards to 8-inch floppy onto either a provided hard drive or 1.4 floppies. He got at least occasional commercial jobs from companies that discovered, for example, all their corporate minutes were stored on IBM DisplayWriter discs long after the last DW system went to the scrap heap.


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:30 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2017 Sun-Times Media, LLC.