Tag: Electrical Engineering

Eric Laithwaite 40 year anniversary: 1980

I’ve only just realised that it’s 40 years ago this very month that I interviewed Professor Eric Laithwaite. I had suggested to the college archives that we should record this interview. Although, at present, I’m not able to get access to the mastertape, I have attempted to correct the colour and enhance the original version, the best that I can. There are potentially other unseen interviews with Eric Laithwaite that were made by STOIC, but until Imperial sees the advantage of these archive gems, they will forever remain in the archives. Sadly, money is needed to fund the transfer of these Ampex Type A videotapes into digital form. This is something that I can no longer do myself because all of our old videotape equipment was disposed of when the TV Studio was closed in 2007. So this interview is therefore the only one with Eric Laithwaite that’s recorded at Imperial College.

I was the interviewer and it was recorded in his office in the heavy electrical engineering laboratory at Imperial College. The slight background noise is from the various motors and machines running in the lab.

Colin Grimshaw September 2020


 

UROP: 1980

In June 1980 Professor J.C Anderson (1922-2001) from the Department of Electrical Engineering, came into the TV Studio to talk about UROP, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme. He was chatting to STOIC’s Paul Johnson in what was one of the first academic interviews recorded in colour.

Professor Anderson ran UROP from the start, 1980 in fact, when this interview was recorded. He handed the scheme over to a colleague in 1987. The scheme, modelled on something by MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was envisaged as a way to offer students an insight into research. In addition, staff  were given the opportunity to gain eager, intelligent research assistants, keen to try out new ideas and work on speculative experiments. Some students admitted to choosing to study at Imperial specifically because of the opportunity to participate in UROP.

After 40 years I gather that UROP is still running at Imperial today.

Colin Grimshaw September 2020


 

STOIC@50: 1970-2020

Three months after I started this Video Archive Blog I featured STOIC, that was in February 2010. Then, it was a mere 40 years since the Student TV Service had started. But now it’s reached the half century. You can of course read the two blogs about STOIC (One and Two) where you’ll find videos and lots of photos. So I won’t repeat all of those things again. What I will do is to include items that were never featured before and in particular videos discovered in the current digitisation of the STOIC archive.

What better way than to begin with those who started STOIC back in 1970 and continued thereafter. In 1980 it was 10 years since the start of their TV service and the video “Happy Birthday to Us” was made to celebrate and you can see that video in my blog STOIC One (links above). At the anniversary reception, held in the Senior Common Room on 15 February 1980, interviews were recorded with past Chairmen of STOIC including Andy Finney who was really the person who got things off the ground. Asking the questions is Grant Richmond who you will read more from later.

In the blog STOIC One there’s a 1971 tour of the Electrical Engineering Department’s (level 3) TV Studio, but now we have the tour made in June 1974. This is also a great record of the studio itself which is not captured anywhere else. Mark Caldwell, seen in the birthday video, makes the introduction. It was shot in one go with no editing except for one or two stops and starts between sections (stopping and then restarting the video recorder). It also features my former colleague Steve Bell (on camera one) who is in the next video too!

In January 1974, six months before the above video was made, STOIC pre-recorded an opening sequence for the then news programme TOPIC. Like the studio tour video it was shot in one go. But, regardless of the production quality it has some great shots of the (Elec Eng) TV Studio along with STOIC’s very own rotating logo, studio control room and STOIC’s RCA 2 inch quad recorder, all now long gone! Steve Bell is heard at the very start announcing the ‘take number and then seen with headphones on. You can also see a brief glimpse of STOIC’s Sony “rover” camera on a tripod in the studio.

The Electrical Engineering TV Studio as it originally looked when STOIC started in 1970, can be seen in some unique colour film. It shows the original PYE black and white vidicon cameras and studio set-up. I’m seen, blurred in long shot, operating the Ampex One Inch recorder. You can also see the crude video monitors (with me operating the film camera) and the PYE vision mixer.

And finally, some 3 years before STOIC ceased to use what, by then, had become the College TV studio, we have a rediscovered recording, shot behind the scenes. It was recorded in the Control Room on 13 June 1983 during the weekly transmission of Newsbreak. Martin Bolding is on sound and also continuity with Tim Davey on vision mixing.

Earlier I mentioned Grant Richmond who now lives in Cairns, North Queensland, Australia. He had a few comments to make when he looked back at his time studying at Imperial and his involvement with STOIC and its 50 years.

“I would say it is really impressive and reminds me of how much extra-curricular activity there was at Imperial, especially considering such a small on-campus population. My point is how remarkable STOIC was to inform (& entertain?) the student community and I would like to think, staff too. I know technology has changed so anyone with a mobile phone can capture events these days and upload to YouTube, but there is no editorial discipline and it’s probably quite hard to get attention. At least with STOIC they had no choice in the JCR at lunchtime! I am most grateful for the opportunity STOIC gave me to participate and to be able to see the record of some of these activities all these years later.”

A lot more will be found from my first two blogs featuring STOIC and in particular the “Happy Birthday to Us” video, which more or less tells the whole story of how they started, and indeed ran, until leaving the College TV studio in summer 1986. To end, I have recreated the STOIC logo that I designed and added an updated version of the jingle that has never been heard before. It was on the master tape at 15ips, which was a tape speed that we couldn’t run. Now, hopefully, the sound quality will come through at last.

And with the time just after 6:24 STOIC is now closing down……

 

Colin Grimshaw 17 February 2020 – Happy Birthday to Them

40 years ago STOIC into Colour: 1979

40 years ago, during the summer of 1979, the TV Studio slipped into colour with the purchase of a single colour camera, portable recorder and edit suite. Before that time everything we made was obviously in black and white and that included the output of the student television service STOIC. They had, at times, been ahead of the college TV studio with some technology. They were first to get a Sony portable videorecorder and associated camera. This allowed them to record items outside of the confines of the studio. When we wanted to do the same we had to move a large videorecorder and take a camera with us on a trolley.

Clearly we had to make a move to upgrade to colour and in the process replace the Ampex One Inch videotape format we’d been using for many years. We needed both colour and also the ability to electronically edit. The U-matic system from Sony was what we selected and the equipment arrived before summer 1979. During the college vacation period we made our first colour production for the Life Science Library. By the start of the autumn term in 1979 we had re-equipped the studio to work only on the U-matic system, but because we still had only the one colour camera, the main studio stayed in black and white (for some while).

A short while after we had received the colour camera, STOIC was clearly interested in also moving away from black and white. But until we moved the entire studio into colour STOIC’s type of programmes were not possible on a single colour camera. However, it was possible to include the occasional ‘single camera’ colour item within a programme. So, just before term ended for the summer of 1979 I consented to the inclusion of a colour item within one of their news programmes. James Miller, a regular on STOIC, had expressed a keen interest to be the first to be seen in colour and I agreed. We thought to do this with a fanfare. So, James linked from an item he’d pre-recorded in black and white on their own portable videorecorder, to him sitting in the studio, also in black and white. At an agreed moment I turn the system switch on the recorder to colour and James’s wish came true. I re-discovered this 40 year old item during the current digitising of STOIC tapes.

Colin Grimshaw August 2019

South Kensington Campus: 1998

Back in 2016 I posted some stock footage of the South Kensington Campus that I had shot in 1992. Here’s an updated version of that with footage shot 21 years ago in 1998. The quality will be better because it was originated on broadcast quality Betacam tape. You will see some nice views of Princes Gardens with both of the original Southside and Linstead Halls. Maybe you might even see yourself in the JCR or on the original Exhibition Road entrance and walkway? I’ve added some captions to remind you of the names of certain places along with any new names that might have come about since 1998, an example being Dalby Court.

I hope this might bring back some memories for those who were at Imperial during this time period.

Colin Grimshaw June 2019

Speaking Backwards at Christmas: 1974

In previous posts I have mentioned the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures given by Professor Eric Laithwaite in December 1974.

I was involved with one of those lectures ‘Jam Tomorrow and Jam Yesterday’ which was lecture 3 in the series. During the late summer of that year Eric Laithwaite had approached me to discuss various ideas to do with things going backwards. He particularly wanted to play around with the idea of speaking backwards. These days you can very easily do such things on your computer let alone on a phone. I managed to find within our Electrical Engineering Department an audio/instrumentation recorder that was able to run backwards.

I asked Eric Laithwaite to call into the TV Studio so that I could demonstrate this to him. I recall us both playing around with speaking, or trying to speak, ‘backwards’ and then playing the actual tape backwards to see if it came out ‘forwards’. At one point he almost slid of the chair in hysterics at what sounds were coming out of the loudspeaker, some of which sounded very rude! He was sold on these ideas and I said that I would play around some more and make extra investigations. What I then decided to do was to create a tape with a sentence rather than just single words. It took ages to do and I had to cheat by editing a string of words together to create something special for the lecture. Over on the right is the original tape that was used in the lecture and now looking slightly aged.

When Eric Laithwaite heard my sentence he roared with laughter and said ‘right, I want YOU to present that in the lecture’. And so I was therefore seen presenting my achievement and also helping him during various sound recording experiments with members of the RI audience. I recall the first recording with the young boy who immediately turned his back on the cameras to face the tape recorder. The BBC floormanager then started to make furious gestures to me to get him to turn slightly so that the cameras could see him.

Five years later in his 1980 book, to go with the series, he gave me a most wonderful credit. “…Colin appeared ‘officially’ in the third lecture taking over part of the lecture in effect…”

And so, 43 years later, here I am speaking backwards at the Royal Institution.

Colin Grimshaw December 2017

Ion Implantation-The Invisible Shield: 1994

There were three organisations collaborating in this European SPRINT project, Imperial College in the UK, AIN in Spain, and
DTI in Denmark. SPRINT was the European commission’s Strategic PRogramme for INnovation and Technology.

This July 1994 video was an introduction to surface treatment of metal tools by the use of Ion Implantation. This technique modifies the tool
surface, improving the wear, corrosion resistance, and frictional properties. The project disseminated knowledge and
applications of Ion Implantation as an effective surface treatment and was targeted mainly at European Small-to-Medium
Enterprises, to improve their productivity and competitiveness in the world market.

It was made in three language versions which were produced for the three SPRINT partners by the Imperial College TV Studio and a fourth version in French, made for I.B.S.¬† As well as the UK, we went to Denmark and Spain to record the relevant sections of the video. The photo above was taken at DTI in Denmark, you can see me operating camera along with my Imperial academic colleague Tom Tate sitting on the chair on the far right hand side. The video’s voice-over was by Michael Rodd.

Colin Grimshaw April 2017

Imperial College TV Studio: 1970 film

This post is a real example of something I thought, like many videos, was lost for ever. Just for fun, back in 1970 I shot some black and white 8mm film of the fledgling TV Studio. We had the ability to add an incredibly small magnetic stripe to the edge of the film allowing us to create a sound track. It’s all rather amateur because I had to record the track in ‘real time’ and put it directly onto the sound stripe, hopefully in sync with what was happening, as far as the pictures were concerned that is.

old-studio-1968The film gives a behind the scenes view of what we had then created in the studio. We had little or nothing to work with and the original cameras were basic to say the least, but we managed. That’s me in the picture on the right with one of those cameras. You’ll see the array of old monitors and the Ampex video recorder too. Nothing really exists from that period except the rare recording with former Rector Lord Penney. I did however shoot some film from the TV screens and although there’s a strong flicker it does at least record what was going on.

The film captures the changes into something that was to become more like a TV Studio. I had the film, but had never bothered to try to get it on video. When the studio closed in Feb 2007 most of the equipment was put into a skip, but I made sure I kept the Eumig 8mm sound projector as this would be the only way to play back the sound track. This actual projector was used to record the track in 1970. I never thought I’d be able to rig it all back up and get the sound track off, but I did. A little bit of modern post production has improved the sound a little. So, here for the first time in 46 years is that film which captures another small part of the Imperial College history.

Colin Grimshaw November 2016

South Kensington Campus: 1992

This 24 year old video will bring back memories for those who can remember Imperial’s South Kensington campus before all of the rebuilding work and many changes began. Back in late summer 1992 I shot some stock footage around the campus for inclusion in videos we were currently making. This is just a small selection of campus views and I intend to find others, shot prior to this current video.

Who knows, you could be one of the people seen walking along the old walkway from the Exhibition Road entrance. You’ll also see: Dalby Court as it was before the ‘blue box’ Faculty Building, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering as well as the old steps up from the pavement on Exhibition Road prior to the new main entrance.

I’ve not added anything to the sound track, so what you’ll hear are the sounds of Imperial as well as the sights.

Colin Grimshaw September 2016

Edward Heath at Imperial: 1980

Edward HeathOn the 4th March 1980 Edward Heath (1916-2005) former UK Prime Minster, visited Imperial College. Later to become Sir Edward Heath, he was born 100 years ago today, July 9, 1916.

He spoke at Imperial to around 350 students in the Physics main lecture theatre. Mr Heath spoke at great length on the future economic policy of the world and the problems facing Third World developing countries as well as the developed ones.

Here, he is speaking very briefly with Mike Prosser (photo above) in the former college TV studio in electrical engineering. Once more we have a very old videotape recording from 36 years ago and it needed some tweaking to get a good picture and in particular, better colour. I am however rather pleased at how well it transferred to digital.

Colin Grimshaw July 2016