A short time ago, I ran into Russ Streiner, an old friend who’s best known as the producer of George Romero’s, “Night of the Living Dead”. He has the unique distinction of being the first person in the film killed by a zombie. Russ was excited about the Blu-ray HD release of this classic horror film. In the 60’s & 70’s, Russ produced dozens of television ad campaigns. Many people are unaware that his business partner, the late George Romero, was a popular director, cinematographer and editor of TV spots before moving on to motion pictures.
Russ asked if I had saved any of the old commercials created by Hartwick-Przyborski Productions. Paul Hartwick (who passed in 2013) and I founded the company in 1975. In the 12 years between 1975 to 1987, “H/P” produced hundreds of TV commercials for clients and ad agencies across the USA. At one time, we had offices in New York, Chicago and Pittsburgh.
I located several boxes of old 2” and 1” videotape. All these spots were originally shot on 35mm film. In the 70’s & 80’s, commercials were distributed to networks and TV stations, exclusively on videotape. 2” quadruplex videotape was the duplication standard until the early 80’s when it was replaced by “C” format 1”.
QuadTapeXfer.com in Tennessee copied the 2” videotape to digital files. I used a Sony BVH3100 to transfer the 1” spot reels to digital. All these commercials were originally edited without modern, file based editing. Back then, it took 3, $45,000 tape machines, a $100,000 video switcher and a roomful of electronics to do a broadcast quality edit with dissolves.
All these spots were shot on film. Prior to the early 80’s, we had to pay the film processing lab for a color corrected, low-contrast, 35mm color print in order to transfer the footage to videotape. Eventually, the British designed, Rank Cintel flying spot scanner enabled film-to-tape transfers, directly from the original camera negative.
In no particular running order, I selected 25 commercials. They look and sound so dated when compared to what we do today. Check out the popularity of musical jingles and just how bad electronic title graphics looked 35+ years ago. If you’re over 40, you might remember some of these ads from when they originally aired…