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A Case of Cities UPITN

In the early eighties, I came up with an idea concerning stock footage to be offered to our clients.  Even in 1983, broadcasters were short of up-to-date stock material of locations around the world.

The scheme was, additionally, to show what we were capable of.  To show that with, by now, our line up of top class cinematographers, based around the world, we could bring in quality film pictures from around the world.  I thought that it might boost the client list of UPITN Productions, I settled upon providing clients with a collection of stock material, recently shot, on the main cities of the world.  These would be provided in a specially built case or container which would enable the material to be handy for an editing room to use quickly.

We produced a brochure to assist sales.  Here are some extracts from the brochure:


A movie bank of stock shots from the world’s major cities, their landmarks and their lifestyles, has recently been compiled by UPITN Productions.

Produced in the form of a thirty-part series, made up of individual half-hour p[ackages on each city, this collation offers broadcasters an invaluable reference and archive resource for use in all types of programming.

A portrait of each city is constructed from sequences depicting architecture, streets, markets and people.  The collation provides a permanent record of how the world’s cities looked in 1983 and emphasises those aspects which give each their unique character and identity.

For years to come, A CASE OF CITIES will provide a rich vein to be tapped for instant scene setters in movies, documentaries, dramas and quiz programmes.  The series also provides a wide variety of choice to those news editors who would replace fixed slide backdrops with moving video underlay in their bulletins.  In future years, the series will offer researchers a compact record of life around the world in 1983.

The contents of each city programme are shotlisted in detail, while time coding in video format provides for high speed retrieval of desired scenes.

The compilations are not programmes in themselves but are a carefully selected moving ontage of scenes which reflect both the mood and substance of their subjects.

The original case contained the programmes packaged as U-Matic cassettes in PAL 625, NTSC 525 or SECAM.  The collection was also offered on 1-inch C or B format by special order.  Around thirty minutes were devoted to each city which, in one cassette, was paired with another city.

The brochure stated:

The collection of fifteen cassettes is presented in a cargo-designed container for safe shipment by airfreight.

Conditions of sale were reasonable.  Broadcasters could use the material in any of their programmes for as often and as long as they wished.  However, if they included scenes from the collection in a programme they intended to sell, then standard royalty fees would apply.

As the collection originated on film, it was possible to offer clients the collection as film print.  The shot list not only showed time-code for each scene, film footages were provided as well.

The first phase of this project included the following cities and their pairings:

Beirut/Bangkok, Nairobi/Frankfurt, Rabat/Paris, Cairo/Istanbul, Djakarta/Johannesburg, Hong Kong/Cape Town, New York/Sydney, Tel Aviv/Jersualem, Damascus/Kuala Lumpur , Geneva/Washington, Delhi/Belgrade, London/Moscow, Buenos Aires/Brussels, Muscat/Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei) and Rome/Rio de Janeiro.

I can recall the names of some of the cameramen involved.

Nairobi – Mohinder (now Sir Mohinder) Dhillon
Frankfurt – Heinz Leitermann.
Paris – Paul Badin and Julian Botras.
Cairo – Osman Mahmoud Osman.
Ankara – Bedri Kayerbal.
Delhi – Tom Mathra.
London – Tony Mander.
Johannesburg – Roger Harris.
Buenos Aires – Walter de Cabo.
Sydney – Ray Henman.
Brussels – Wim Robberechts.
Rome – Guiliano Nocco.
Singapore – Jon Noble.
Rabat – Jacques Hubinet, from Marseilles.
Geneva – Walter Kraus.

Tony Mander ©Mark Gallacher - All Rights Reserved

Our bureaus in Washington and New York assigned the coverage of their cities.

Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were shot by Herzelia Studios, who had top class cameramen on their staff as did Soviet TV  (Film Division) who covered Moscow.

The project did not sell as well as was hoped, but, at least, the collection still exists as a visual time-capsule of those cities in 1983.

All these films are currently housed in the library of AP Archive, London.

© Terence Gallacher and, 2012.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

For other articles about UPITN click here.

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