In 1977, a one-off programme aired on UK TV called “It’ll Be Alright On The Night” – these annual(-ish) specials continue to this day.
Then in 1982, America jumped on the bandwagon, with Dick “Head” Clark’s “TV’s Censored Bloopers”.
After which, given the popularity of this new format, there appeared too many other shows and series to list here.
Of course, there was nothing new about OUTTAKES (a British term which includes deleted scenes, etc. – but which these days generally refers to bloopers only). They had been around since the earliest days of film.
The big studios used to make compilations of them – with an added score and foley. And when television arrived – and once VT emerged – regular “Christmas Tapes” were produced by their VT departments. Plus all movie “wrap parties” feature a bunch of humourous clips from the production.
Add these to the “unofficial” pieces that make the rounds in The Industry and you have a plethora of material.
However, until Paul Smith launched the first IBAROTN, showings of this material were strictly limited to those WITHIN The Industry.
And for obvious reasons; no studio or actor wanted the general public to see them flubbing, corpsing, swearing or falling on their arse.
Furthermore, getting copyright clearance from the varied sources would have been next to impossible.
But come the Seventies, things eased – and companies sprang up whose sole business was to do the donkey-work to obtain those clearances.
Thus blooper clip shows became a staple of World TV during the Eighties – but this created two problems.
The first was that when the shows began, they had a wealth of material to choose from. However, as time went by, with the specials becoming occasional presentations, then finally weekly series – the supply of material began to run out.
And the second was that those in possession of the material, realising how popular it was, began asking for more MONEY for the clips.
The solution to these problems initially came from Japan. There, the popularity of camcorders in the Eighties led to a feature in a programme called 加トちゃんケンちゃんごきげんテレビ – where clips from people’s home videos would be shown.
So when an American television producer called Vin Di Bona saw it, he bought it. And in 1989, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” – or AFHV, as it is known – was born (although curiously, the programme insists on calling itself “AFV”).
This time, the UK followed America and in 1990, came up with “You’ve Been Framed” – and then, as with the outtakes/bloopers shows before, EVERYONE jumped on this new bandwagon.
But this is about AFHV. And in particular, their inability to properly deal with RATIOS.
Here’s the thing: today, virtually all Western TV programmes are made in 16:9. But home movie clips come in a variety of ratios. Plus some people are technically inept and have no idea how to WORK cameras – and some manufacturers fail to REALISE that fact.
So while modern, high-def, 16:9 clips made using modern digital cameras are fine, Eighties and Nineties clips are in 4:3 – and often have unwanted graphics (date, time, record speed, battery life, tape remaining, etc.) all over them, where the cameras defaulted to that mode.
And some people use modern camera-phones in “portrait” mode, which is great when displayed on a smart-phone or tablet – but is useless on a computer or television. They need to be used in “LANDSCAPE” mode – a fact repeatedly plead on AFHV.
And since AFHV obtains many of its clips from other shows (there is a MARKET for clips) the solutions to these headaches vary enormously.
Some companies PIXELISE on-screen graphics – some do not.
Some companies STRETCH 4:3 clips to 16:9, while others show them in the correct ratio for 16:9, with wallpaper at the sides.
Some companies use EFFECTS: such as “bananarama” (where just the SIDES of the picture are stretched) or a recent one, which stretches and BLURS just the EXTREME edges.
And as for portrait camera-phone clips – they normally get stretched to 4:3.
Try to correct ALL THAT on your TV while the show is running and it will drive you MAD.
Then again, you should not HAVE to. It is the job of the TECHNICAL boys at AFHV to do this. But they do NOT – preferring to leave all material as it was when it arrived in the post.
WHY? Even though the show’s ratings today are a tiny fraction of those it enjoyed in its heyday, it still has a big following – and given its largely visual nature, it successfully syndicates around the World.
And correcting the clips’ ratios is hardly rocket science. Hell, given a few hundred bucks’ worth of equipment – I could do it.
Hey, Vin – how about it?