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Marc Wielage

Nagra 4.2 featured on "Forever"

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I fell out of my chair yesterday watching an episode of the ABC fantasy series Forever where the lead cop (actually a medical examiner) brought in a Nagra 4.2 to play an early 1960s open reel tape in a scene. The two sequences show some pretty good close-ups of the machine, and I got a big chuckle out of technology this old being used in a 2015 TV series...

 

 

[Now a new & improved clip with repaired audio!]

Edited by Marc Wielage

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Odd that when they cut to a closeup of the VU meter at about 2:05 they are monitoring the Pilot level (constant level signal) instead of the VU audio level.  They must have just had a blank tape and nothing to record for some VU signal.   I guess most lay-people wouldn't notice that.

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Other thing I noticed is they playback with the main selector switch on the first playback position, not the second one that would actually send the signal to the loudspeaker.  Nitpicky, I know...  ;D   Still nice to see the old 4.2 doing the job, and the reference to baking the tape to get a signal coming out was kind of cool too.

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Although... if this was an early 1960s tape, that would mean it's acetate, and you should never bake acetate tapes! Those will melt like buttah, as will a plastic reel. Many of the post-1968 tapes were polyester, and those may or may not need baking... but the symptom is horrible squeaking, not a loss of signal. They couldn't show all this on the episode, so I think a little "artistic license" was used just to move the plot along.

 

If I was industrious and had vast amounts of spare time, I'd collect together all the incidents of Nagras and similar sound gear being featured in movies & TV shows, like the infamous Sennheiser 816 in Blow Out. I seem to recall a lot of Nagra SNs being used as plot devices in the 1980s and 1990s, too. 

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Odd that when they cut to a closeup of the VU meter at about 2:05 they are monitoring the Pilot level (constant level signal) instead of the VU audio level.  They must have just had a blank tape and nothing to record for some VU signal.   I guess most lay-people wouldn't notice that.

Good catch on the meter selector, Courtney, but the meter selector pointer is on the "MOT" position, which measures motor current to troubleshoot tension and bearing abnormalities. Either this was pure accident or it was a way to get a somewhat steady but jittery needle movement. But based on other clues that made many of us cringe (starting the transport by closing the lever, winding the take-up reel counterclockwise, meter selection, and more), no one was on the set with working knowledge of the Nagra. And certainly the writers didn't know what they were writing about regarding baking tapes.

 

 

Other thing I noticed is they playback with the main selector switch on the first playback position, not the second one that would actually send the signal to the loudspeaker.  Nitpicky, I know...  ;D   Still nice to see the old 4.2 doing the job, and the reference to baking the tape to get a signal coming out was kind of cool too.

 

Good catch rstl99! Not only would it not turn on the speaker, but it wouldn't allow the fast forward function either, which they were using during one scene.

 

Maybe the most interesting thing is that it is representative of the lack of knowledge filmmakers generally have about the sound craft, and typical of the attention and respect sound gets on the set. 

 

gt

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I fell out of my chair yesterday watching an episode of the ABC fantasy series Forever where the lead cop (actually a medical examiner) brought in a Nagra 4.2 to play an early 1960s open reel tape in a scene. The two sequences show some pretty good close-ups of the machine, and I got a big chuckle out of technology this old being used in a 2015 TV series...

 

https://vimeo.com/116835763

 

[Now a new & improved clip with repaired audio!]

Mark, I wonder if any one pointed out that the 4.2 didn't exist till about 1972.

In the sixties it was the Nagra 3 followed by the 4L.

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