The Precision Video Catalogue Of 1981

A collection of ITC movies, classic TV and oddball instructional films that were on offer in the early days of home video.

Precision Video was the home viewing arm of ITC, and as such had a somewhat more upmarket collection of titles than many of the indie labels that it was competing with at the time – not only in terms of star names, but also pretty recent cinema releases – the likes of Raise the Titanic, Hawk the Slayer and The Monster Club were only a year or so old at this point – and popular television franchises like the Muppets, event shows such as Jesus of Nazareth and older shows such as The Saint and Space: 1999. All are present and correct in this catalogue, which also features assorted oddities that ITC had bought the rights to – Mad Dog Morgan, for instance alongside attempts to be thoroughly chin-stroking with assorted operas, ballets and Shakespeare plays. None of your video nasties here – though within a year, Precision was slipping the odd softcore title (The Fruit is Ripe, Taboo Island) and Euro-horror (Return of the Evil Dead) into the catalogue.

Precision also had the odd instructional tape – The Mighty Micro, Learning the Guitar and, most amusingly, A Complete Dinner Party where you were given step-by-step instructions for preparing an eight (!) course dinner for six. Well, no point easing into it I guess. You could also buy assorted accessories, including the Video Worm, which was a breathtakingly useless racking system that would hold between one and three tapes.

If you look carefully, you’ll see that Precision had a unique packaging design for their VHS and Betamax releases at this time. While this was still the era of various formats – the big box, what would later become known as the sell-through size and the cardboard carton that took off in the US but was quickly dropped everywhere else – Precision went with an unusual design that was essentially like an overblown cassette tape, with a hard clear front that would easily crack. Invariably, the damaged cases were thrown away by rental stores and the sleeve forced uncomfortably into a more standard case, so finding an intact one of these is hard work.

Also in the catalogue are a pair of double-page spreads showing the releases from Videomedia/Vampix and Videoring, two labels distributed by Precision and with a rather more downmarket and so much more interesting catalogue.

Like many of the early video distributors, Precision would not – despite its more respectable origins – survive into the mid-1980s, though much of the catalogue would transfer to the sell-through Channel 5 label within a few years.

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