Max Headroom, the short-lived ABC television series, was probably too ahead of its time. A reboot of a 1985 production (20 Minutes into the Future), the show was the first to truly embrace the cyberpunk aesthetic as it satirized the corrupt state of network television, depicting a world in which the television screen is everything. Working at KGUN-TV, the show especially appealed to me, so I thought it could be cool to recreate the camera Edison Carter used to expose injustices in this bleak future.
coming to you live and direct
Once again, I didn’t have much in the way of reference material aside from the show itself. IIRC I’d videotape the show and snap pictures off of the TV screen that showed the camera. A combination of dark lighting and low resolution made this a challenge. I did have a publicity photo I snagged from the promotions department of KGUN (the ABC affiliate in Tucson). Bryan Ambacher, my partner in prop building, would later snag Matt Frewer’s autograph while working on the set of Speed Zone in Tucson.
I know there’s supposed to be something like a VU audio meter module on the right side, but I never found a decent reference for it.
Fiberglass was once again my go-to material. I built a buck out of heavy matt board, created a fiberglass mold of that, then glassed up a fiberglass body.
My connection to the TV station paid off as the engineers let me have an actual (but heavy) lens from a professional video camera that was damaged beyond repair. I fabricated a lens hood from fiberglass resin using the top of a glass pickle jar as a mold.
I sourced the various switches from Radio Shack and other local electronics stores and wired one of them to the red “on-air” light on the top (another resin cast, tinted red).
Aluminum sheet, tubing for the mic, and perforated steel sheet I found at a scrapyard made up the metal parts.
I fabricated other pieces from sheet styrene. I made a positive and then a mold for the eyepiece and cast that in latex.
I produced the Network 23 logo using press type and hand-drawn letters, then used the KGUN art department’s photostat machine to create a reversed print that I colored yellow with a highlighter.
The end result must have been convincing because as we wandered around a convention in Los Angeles a bunch of people asked what TV station we were with.