Monthly Archives: August 2007

Ditty Bag

What the heck is a Ditty Bag? In production parlance and as listed in this column it is a kit of useful items used in television and film production. The ditty bag can contain a group of handy items to have at one’s disposal. The items may vary depending on personal choices.  


  • Felt marking pens
  • Erasable felt-tipped markers
  • Make-up powder puff (for erasing marker)
  • Air blowing bulb
  • Flashlight
  • Lens tissue and lens cleaner
  • Magnifying glass
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Tweezers
  • Orange sticks
  • Pencils and ballpoint pens
  • Screwdrivers
  • Assorted brushes
  • Rubber bands
  • Black cloth
  • Tools
  • “C” clamps 3-in. (7.5 cm)
  • Spring clamps
  • Scriber
  • 1/4 x 20 screws 1 – and 2 1/2 – in.
  • 3/8 x 16 screws 1 – and 2 1/2 – in.
  • Washers
  • Dental mirror
  • Magnifier
  • Canned air
  • Dulling spray
  • Black Wrap
  • Light Meters
  • Calculators
  • Stopwatch
  • Electrical tape
  • 1″ camera tape
  • 2″ gaffer tape
  • White Gaffer’s Tape
  • Black camera tape
  • Medical Tape
  • Double Sided Stick Tape
  • 1/2″ or 1″ paper tape
  • 1/8″ or 1/4″ chart tape
  • Spike Tape
  • Transfer tape (also called snot tape)
  • Trickline
  • Clothes Line
  • Grease pencils (China Marking Pencils)
  • Chalk for actors’ marks
  • Wipes–large and small
  • Spare batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, 9-volt)
  • Spare flashlight bulbs
  • Small plastic storage bags
  • Trash bags
  • Spray cleaner
  • Rags/paper towels
  • Mole foam  (or similar)
  • Freezer Bags with zipper seal
  • Non-lubricated Condoms – In humid environments or in rain, this will help keep microphone elements dry. It can also be stretched over transmitters to keep rain out.
  • Alligator Clips
  • Spring Clothespins
  • Rubber Bands
  • 50-foot cloth measuring tape
  • Stopwatch

The list is endless. As you are building yours remember that when it comes to the production environment you cannot be over prepared. -33-

 Footnote: All information mentioned herein is for the consideration of the reader and any use of the mentioned items is at the risk of the user. The author is not liable for any complication due to usage. Generic and/or Brand names are not an endorsement and other items may be substituted at the user’s discretion.  


What Goes Around Comes Around

The first posting on Televising The Revolution is a look back and a flash-forward at the same time. It might seem that television has come full circle since its humble beginnings.

Spinning Wheels

Mechanical scanning disc television sets were presented to the public in 1928.  This is the earliest reference found on a commercially made television set. Production was low, in the dozens of sets, but the mechanical scanning disc system and later, in 1934, a rotating mirror drum based set ushered in the new era of television.

[1] When color television came into play in the 1950s there was a spinning wheel that “dissected” the colors into Red, Green and Blue components. This was the CBS system known as the RX-40 Converter.

The color wheel that was a major component of the RX-40 converter was mounted in front of a black and white set. When the viewer was watching a program broadcast in Black and White the color wheel would move sideways out of the visual path. Color mode brought the wheel in front of the picture tube to allow for color viewing. As you might imagine, synchronization was a real problem. [Author’s Note: Thanks to friend and television historian, Martin for sending information on the RX-40 Converter.]

Fast Forward 

Today some projection television systems utilize a technology that contains a spinning wheel. This spinning wheel dissects the colors into Red, Green and Blue, which are the basis of all the colors one sees on the screen. If this sounds familiar, it should. Through a process called “Persistence of Vision” the viewer’s eyes and brain pull everything together to see a full-color, moving image, much the same way the brain processes 24 individual still images per second allowing it to see a full motion picture image when viewing a movie. 

What is old is new again

Looking back at the 1928 and 1950 spinning disc systems and then forward to the spinning wheels used in today’s technology an interesting question comes to mind–Has television changed since 1928? We can give that question an enthusiastic yes, but it almost seems that some early ideas might have been ahead of their time, especially if we see remnants of yesterday’s methods in today’s equipment. -33-

 Addendum [1]: September 6, 2007 – Edited to add information on the CBS RX-40 Converter.