Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Glass from the Past

Daniel Anderson's TK-76I rolled into Daniel Anderson’s office with two simple goals: Get in and Get OUT. But no sooner had I entered the Elon University administrator’s workspace when a certain dusty relic rendered me inert. There on a back shelf sat a freakin’ RCA TK-76, all retro-logo’d and beautifully battered. It made my shoulder hurt just looking at it. Forgetting instantly why I was even there, I stumbled toward the bookshelf and reached out to caress That 70’s Cam. Full of sharp edges and muted metalwork, this earliest of portable recorders thrummed with the energy of countless newscasts past. I reached out to lift it from its perch and the incredible heft humbled me. Leaning into its pitch black viewfinder, I imagined all the polyester clad passion plays that had appeared on its milky screen. “D-a-a-a-a-m”, I heard someone say - before realizing it was me. That’s when I sensed a presence behind me.

Daniel Anderson and his TK-76It was Daniel Anderson and to my instant relief, he was totally cool. In fact, the Director of University Relations positively beamed with delight at my enthusiasm. Finally, someone who could fully appreciate his fossilized fancycam! What followed was a history lesson of sorts, in which Anderson explained how he used to sling a similar lens back when he was a young one-man-band shooting news in North Dakota. Many years later, he fished this holy trophy out of his old station’s dumpster and gave the broadcast artifact a special home in his Elon campus office. Far more stoked over the history it witnessed than the dimension of its lens, I smiled and nodded as Anderson ran down the schematics. I never shot with a TK-76 myself, but the landmark model was a fancycam legend and should it ever go missing from Anderson’s possession - well, you’ll know where to bring the search warrant.

I just wish I could remember why I went to dude’s office in the first place…


cyndy green said...

Legend? Yeah. Shoulder-planer - definitely! That damn camera was flat metal on human flesh and permanently embedded itself in the form on a bruise I carry til this day. And the handle - devised by some engineer who knew he'd never have to hold it for more than a test or two. My memories of the TK are mercifully fading...but I do remember the feel of it. Flat cold metal on the shoulder and a handle that protruded in such a way that it never felt stable...always felt as if I were about to drop it.
OK - I'll give you image quality. But that's it.

Anonymous said...

Peter Lisand made a shoulder brace that clamped on to the tripod plate for the TK-76, but my station was too cheap to buy it. I took a big piece of foam from the packing of a studio bulb and velcroed it to the bottom of the camera. When I was on sticks another strip of velcro attached the foam to the side of the camera.

I have a hand cranked B&H 16mm that I used to shoot b-roll on my first job and my first Ikegami Betacam, but I could never get my hands on a TK-76. My first one cost the same as a new house at the time.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah? I covered the entire 70's with a pin hole camera. AND I LIKED IT THAT WAY!