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Technology Timeline 1960s: film vs video image quality

Video clip synopsis – Ray Edmondson compares the image quality of 35mm and 16mm film when it is transmitted in cinemas, on television and over the Internet.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 1min 26sec
Tags - audiences, culture, entertainment, filmmaking, identity, media and society, newsreels, popular culture, see all tags


Technology Timeline 1960s: film vs video image quality

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About the Video Clip


This interview with Ray Edmondson was recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.

Ray Edmondson is the Former Deputy Director of the National Film and Sound Archive and is now honorary Curator Emeritus. You can view his full biography at From Wireless to Web

The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.

From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.

Curriculum Focus


Inquiry Questions
What have been the major social and cultural features of a post-war decade?

A student:
5.1 explains social, political and cultural developments and events and evaluates their impact on Australian life
5.2 assesses the impact of international events and relationships on Australia’s history
5.4 sequences major historical events to show an understanding of continuity, change and causation
5.5 identifies, comprehends and evaluates historical sources
5.6 uses sources appropriately in an historical inquiry
5.7 explains different contexts, perspectives and interpretations of the past.

Students Learn About:
Post-war Australia
The impact of changing technology on everyday life in post-war Australia:

  • housing
  • home appliances
  • entertainment
  • transport
  • communications

Students Learn To:
outline the impact of the main technological changes over time on everyday life in post-war Australia, based on a selection of sources.

Decade Study
The social and cultural features of ONE post-war decade including:

  • fashion
  • music
  • entertainment
  • sport
  • British or American influences on popular culture

- describe the main social and cultural features of the chosen decade
– outline the main influences of Britain or the USA on Australian popular culture of the chosen decade
– assess the impact of the chosen decade in shaping Australian identity

This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies website for more information.

Background Information


In 1966 Australia’s Overseas Telecommunications Commission (OTC) used a satellite to transmit the first live television broadcast between Western Australia and England. Soon after, Australia started to receive daily overseas news reports by satellite. The following year Australia participated in Our World – a two-hour global satellite telecast produced in eighteen countries. In 1969, live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing – made possible by satellite transmission – became the longest continuous live broadcast on television.

Coaxial Cables
In 1962 Australia’s first coaxial cable was finished, allowing multi-channel telecommunications between Sydney and Melbourne. This opened the door to national television networks, and allowed the subsequent 'rapid exchange of information’ (National Film & Sound Archive of Australia) and computer data across networks.

Magnetic Videotape
Both vision and sound can be recorded on magnetic tape. A crude video recording system was first demonstrated in the United States in 1951, and commercial videotapes became available in 1957. From 1962 the ABC started to install videotape recording equipment at production facilities in each capital city. The conversion from film to video made television productions faster and cheaper.

In 1967 Sony launched its first PortaPak – a portable video system. Initially, the PortaPak was operated by a crew of two – one person to use the camera and one to operate the video cassette recorder. Innovations quickly improved the quality of material shot by video camera and made the units smaller.

Classroom Activities

  1. List the main forms of entertainment that were popular in Australia in the 1950s.
    1. Watch the interview with Liz Jacka carefully. What reasons does she give for the continuing popularity of newsreels after television was introduced in the 1950s?
    2. According to Liz Jacka, what was the main drawback of early television (especially when compared to cinema)?
  2. Use the links below to research the Hollywood film industry in the 1950s. Use the information that you have found to write a description of the ways in which Hollywood film studios tried to keep audiences coming to the movies in the 1950s.

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia. – The Invention of Television