By TACOM Public AffairsJune 1, 2018
(Editor's note: The following article is part of a series of stories from U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Command newsletters in 1968. The acronyms "ATAC" and "TACOM" are interchangeable throughout this series. This story ran in the June 1968 issue of "The Detroit Arsenal News.")
"Quiet on the set." "Positions, everyone." "Ready, this is a take, roll 'em."
These directions are common to the sound stages of Hollywood and television studios. But, they were a little odd coming from Building #12 where the Maintenance Directorate's New Vehicle School normally teaches classes on automotive equipment.
Strange as it might seem; however, the two products were recently intertwined and the reason for all the scrambling among the labyrinth of cameras, cables, kleig lights and other sophisticated equipment was an experiment in the use of video tape to produce instructional films for AMC sub-commands.
And for Ken Immink and Tim Ryan it was a lot of hard work in unaccustomed roles as actor and technical advisor. Normally, automotive teachers, the pair found themselves thrust into the production when AMC Mobile Television Detachment, based at Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania, started production on an instructional film of M715 truck.
It was strictly to evaluate the potential of producing TV tapes to instruct Army mechanics on a wide variety of technical subjects by replacing live classroom instruction and conventional motion picture films.
The biggest advantages of TV tapes are fast service (the entire production from writing the script to shooting the final scene took less than 3 weeks), mobility, flexibility (instant replay of tape can correct mistakes immediately) and lack of customary red tape to set up a movie production.
The biggest bonus is a product that can be shipped world-wide in less than a month and save the time and expense of sending training teams into the field or bringing students to service schools.
The M715 film was produced at three locations starting at the Kaiser-Jeep Assembly Plant in Toledo then to the Ford Proving Ground at Romeo and finally to Building 12.
Immink volunteered for the acting chores giving the film a little more authenticity than possible with a professional actor. Staff Sergeant Jose Sanchez, a mobile maintenance technician had the role of vehicle driver. Ryan's duties were to keep everything technically correct and on schedule.
Because of noise level problems, most taping took place after 4:00 p.m. which meant that Immink and Ryan put in up to 16 hour days … performing their own job as well.
Because of the success of this experiment there's reason to believe that Hollywood-type jargon may get to be a pretty common thing around TACOM.
If the tendency got strong enough it's interesting to speculate on the likelihood that future qualifications for an instructor's job could require membership in the Screen Actors Guild. It could never happen!! … or could it?