DSC first met Chuck Pharis on a cold, wet, winter’s day in Pittsburgh, PA. Jay Ballard, one of our industry’s most respected engineers, had called to say that he was working with Chuck to set up some Panasonic 720P HD cameras for ABC’s “Monday Night Football” – Jay said “it might be helpful if you could bring some of the new CamAlign charts to Three Rivers Stadium”.
So it was, on an icy November day in 1999 that we headed for Pittsburgh. Four hours of slippery roads and blinding blizzards later we arrived, confused and lost in this town of many bridges. A friendly officer in a cruiser told us how to get to our hotel, but seeing total confusion in our eyes said, “you better follow me, it’s about two miles”
This escort to the hotel was a warm welcome to Pittsburgh on this icy/wet day. After checking in at the hotel, we headed for the stadium. It’s now a parking lot for the new Heinz stadium. It is said that Heinz paid $57 million to have it named after the company!
We had known Jay Ballard for 20 years, but Chuck Pharis only by reputation as Senior Video Engineer for ABC in Hollywood and a winner of three engineering Emmys. We found them both in the video control booth at the front of the Panasonic truck. To check out the CamAlign, Chuck set up one of the 720P cameras by the truck.
As an engineer who had used matte charts all his life, Chuck’s reaction on seeing the glossy CamAlign for the first time was “but it’s glossy? Don’t you have it in matte finish?”. When we introduced the glossy chart this was a frequent reaction so we always had a matte version to demo. Chuck framed the glossy CamAlign in the viewfinder of the 720P and we all climbed into the truck to look at the HD waveform and vectorscope displays. With camera colorimetry set to the new chart Chuck seemed to like what he saw, but asked to look at the matte version on camera. We had the impression that he expected to prefer conventional surface. But, when he saw the difference in dynamic range and color saturation he said “please, give me the glossy version.
Monday morning was spent chipping the cameras to a glossy CamAlign driven around the stadium on a golf cart. Monday afternoon we had to leave for home and didn’t get to see the game.
Back at the lab on Tuesday morning an excited Jay Ballard phoned to tell us that the “powers that be” had called to say the Pittsburgh game in HD looked superb. Since then we have been fortunate in getting to know another facet of Chuck Pharis – where to start?
This is a man of many interests; he enjoys the great outdoors, camping, fishing and driving into the wilderness in his convertible with the top down. Panning and digging for gold in California’s Mother Lode country, he once panned a 24 carat nugget weighing over an ounce and dug up others almost a big.
Chuck is a “packrat” who hates to throw things out, he loves antiques and is seldom happier than when grubbing through antique stores and garage sales. Our industry can be grateful for this side of his personality, because he has assembled probably the greatest collection of antique television equipment and memorabilia in the United States.
How did Chuck become what he is today? Born in Detroit, Chuck has one sister and can trace the family roots back to biblical times. A good student, his schooling in Detroit was uneventful. When he was 12 the family moved to San Francisco where Chuck finished school and went to college. While competent academically, his main interests were, as they are today, mechanics and electronics. You could say his career started when he was in high school watching ABCs Wide World of Sports with his father; Chuck thought, “that’s for me”.
After college he started in radio and 16 years later ended up in television at ABC Hollywood. Here he rose to the top of his profession doing what he loved the most, video control on live sporting events, such as ABCs Wide World of Sports. Chuck says “Live TV is the most fun for me.” He has done many live stage shows, 17 years on the Academy Awards, 10 years on the Emmys, and many sitcoms and variety shows. He has also done his fair share of “soaps” including General Hospital and Port Charles, but soaps are not his favorite.
Chuck lives in the country west of Los Angeles and is happily married to his lovely wife Cindy, who has her own career teaching photography and art. There are five offspring, three in the UK and two girls at college in California. During the recent fires we were concerned for their safety and called Chuck. He said that the fires came close, North, West and South of them, but fortunately they were OK, as was Chuck’s priceless collection.
What’s ahead for Chuck Pharis? As a freelancer he is currently consulting on a motion picture and shooting three or four days a week, while still pursuing all his other interests – what else would you expect from a dynamo who goes to bed at 11.00PM and is up at 5.00AM every morning?
You can learn much more about Chuck Pharis at http://www.pharis-video.com/ and don’t be shy about donating vintage TV equipment which he will lovingly restore and display at his camera museum in the Hollywood area. You can contact Chuck at email@example.com.
We are embarrassed to tell you what Chuck says about DSC, but not too embarrassed to print it!
“After 38 years doing Video Control for both sports and studio shows, I have used almost every camera set up chart on the market. Now that I have seen and used the charts from DSC Labs, one will always travel with me to every show I do! They don’t get any better than this! Thank you DSC!”