Television has only recently become an all-digital medium. Programmes used to be made using analogue video or celluloid film.

Here you can see how these technologies worked. They created millions of hours of TV that continue to be watched around the world. This website features:

Over 130 videos
More than 12 hours of footage
Interactive stories about television history
Profiles of television veterans

Our videos recreate how TV used to be made, using historic technologies operated by the professionals who once used them every day.

These videos are the product of the ADAPT research project, funded by the European Research Council.

Scroll down to find out more about our reenactments

Our reenactments

Between 2013 and 2018, ADAPT carried out a series of ambitious and ground-breaking historical reenactment experiments.

Former BBC camera operator Rex Palmer operating a Pye PC-80 broadcast television camera

We brought together retired television production staff and obsolete production equipment. Television film editors were reunited with flatbed editing tables, and camera operators once again operated long-disused electronic broadcast cameras.

Our modern digital cameras recorded participants’ reactions as their memories flooded back. We watched as teams worked together to once again perform their role in the complex television production chain. By observing teamwork we captured the subtle dynamics of television labour often ignored by the traditional interview.

ADAPT 16mm film reenactment set, with the viewfinder of a Sony PMW-100 digital video camera in the foreground

The reenactments were a combination of free-flowing television production activity and semi-structured interviews, and the resulting video material sits somewhere between oral history and television documentary.

Scroll down to find out how to use this website

How to use this website

We filmed hundreds of hours of footage during our reenactment experiments. We have now edited these rushes into many series of videos which aim to offer an insight into each stage in the historical television production process.

Screenshot of ADAPT collection on Figshare
All of the project’s videos are hosted on our Figshare repository, and many videos embedded in the pages of this website.

Videos of our 16mm television film reenactments, for example, follow the production process from shooting, through film processing, editing, and finally telecine.

A selection of these videos are embedded in this website, and you can use the menus at the top of the page to explore various aspects of the television production process. For our full collection of videos, we invite you to visit the project’s long-term data repository on the Figshare website.

Stories offer an in-depth, interactive way to explore the history of television production technology

This website also offers a Timeline which enables you to explore the chronological development of some of the key production technologies highlighted by this project.

Finally, we have produced a series of ‘Stories‘ – in-depth, interactive accounts of television history and production culture.