The proof

since the advent of Ampex tape machines, television programmes have been recorded on video; not only is it much cheaper than film [the tapes can be reused a number of times, whereas film can only be exposed once], celluloid has to be transferred to tape before it can be broadcast. Also, the first forays in television, back in the early 40s and 50s of the previous century, were broadcast live which necessitated the use of bulky video cameras since, obviously, there was no way to broadcast film directly. Some outdoor events of the time were shot on film and then fed through a scanner in situ but the occasion that merited such extravagance was rare at best.

35mm slide
The 35mm snippet...
episode still
...and a color still from the actual scene.

In the mid 80s, I got involved in a festival which, in one of its annual installments, wanted to offer a survey of special effects films and techniques. To me fell the task of compiling a comprehensive curriculum of films that highlighted the different techniques that were used through the years. Naturally, I wanted to include Supermarionation in this programme since it is in fact one large special effects show: not only due to the extensive use of model photography, the sets and props are also table top models, scaled to the size of the puppets.

I eventually managed to lay hands on a black&white 35mm copy of the Secret Service episode A Question of Miracles which awoke me to the fact that all Supermarionation shows had been shot on film, rather than the cheaper Ampex alternative. It was at that point that I decided I wanted to see my childhood heroes on the big screen and so I set out to organize what would eventually become Andersons Are GO!.

In the course of that undertaking, I met up with the puppets and their creators alike and eventually managed to get film copies of most Supermarionation series. In one of the many boxes with film that arrived, I located the separate snippet of celluloid that is reproduced here, proof that all this stuff was really shot on 35mm film and not on video, as is the main practice today. Notice the soundtrack on the left [that wiggly white line].