Posts Tagged ‘STOIC’

TOPIC – rediscovered 8mm film: 1972

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

Recently I’ve been digitising, in HD, my personal collection of 8mm home movies. Now that those are all transferred, I’ve moved onto a large collection of 8mm films from STOIC’s archive. Why did STOIC have 8mm films? Well, back in the early 1970’s there was no easy way to record anything outside of the TV Studio, so film was the only option. For the early news programme TOPIC, 8mm was shot and developed by STOIC. They bought all of the kit that was needed to process and ‘reverse’ the film from negative to positive. This film was then edited and used within the next edition of their news programme. In some cases, it was easier for them to use normal film to shoot what they needed, and to then let Kodak process the film. And in these cases the film was colour, even though it was only ever seen in black and white.

I made an amazing discovery too. There is a spool of ‘home processed’ film for the Easter edition of TOPIC from 23 March 1972. That seemed familiar to me and so I dug deep into my collection of audio tapes and discovered I had the sound track to the actual programme. I was then able to sync-up the studio commentary from the (now erased) programme soundtrack, to recreate what would have been seen some 50 years ago. But this was not without difficulties that I thought I would never solve.

Once STOIC had processed the film it ended up as a 16mm spool that needed to be split down the middle to produce 2x8mm film. A spool of 25 feet of 16mm ended up as 50 feet of 2x8mm. However, splitting the film needed to be done accurately. My 8mm digitiser is very fussy about accuracy of film size and the STOIC film certainly wasn’t accurate. I discovered that at certain points, the film stopped and seemed to jam in the gate mechanism. Upon closer inspection with a magnifying glass I spotted that the film was going wide to less wide, then back to normal and so on. When it got extra wide it jammed and then released again. The end result is seen above, with the film frame going up and down with the changing of the film width. Look at the extreme right hand side to see the film edge getting wider and then narrower again.

And, when a film splice happened, it could easily go from normal width to extra wide width, as indicated by the arrow in this photo. I had to redo most of the original splices in the film and cheat to make the transition slightly less bad. However, the end result still had the frame moving up and down at different times. But, I discovered a solution. During digital editing I tried ‘tracking’ and stabilisation. Tracking allows a specific point of reference to be used to keep an image where you want it. So, I under-scanned the film to see the sprocket holes and for them to be used as my key reference point. A few minutes later and I had a workable end result. I synced my soundtrack, as best I could, cleaned up the image and we now have for the first time in 50 years the film inserts for TOPIC as they were seen in the programme.

Here then are the two film inserts used in the programme after I’ve managed to digitally stabilise and correct them. The first is a report by Richard Woodhead on the March 1972 Student Union Elections. Note that the commentary was made live in the studio as the film ran, so does not sync perfectly to what is being seen. Also, there are big gaps where nothing is said and this was intentional, other than some taped background noise. This programme was only ever seen ONCE, on 23 March 1972.

The second and final film is a comedy sequence apparently shot in the Union Building Heating Tunnels. You’ll notice that there is a slight delay and confusion in the film sound starting, but can eventually be heard. This background music was played in live, from audio tape, and clearly there was an initial technical hitch which delayed the start.

And, things just keep being found. With another reel of tape I’ve discovered a piece of paper that listed the original background sound and music for both of these films. Indeed that was correct, so I now also have the tape that was run live at the time behind the studio commentary. And there’s more to come…

Colin Grimshaw August 2020

Digitising film archive in HD: 2020

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

Seen for the first time in HD, it’s Morphy Day c1972. Digitised from 8mm film you’ll see Morphy Day, as you may never have seen it before. Well, you might have seen it, but only if you had viewed the actual 8mm colour film, but that’s unlikely.

Morphy Day was filmed on Super8 for inclusion in STOIC’s news programme called TOPIC. Sadly the spool is undated, and I’m not surprised. They were extremely bad at archiving; unless of course I moaned at them. This spool, along with some others, seems to have slipped through the net. So, I’m second-guessing at a rough date of around Autumn term of 1972.

Recently, I bought, for myself, an 8mm film scanner. This is not a projector, but rather a device to capture each film frame, one by one. A standard 50 foot reel of 8mm film takes about 30 mins to capture in HD. As I have many reels of my own film in both Standard 8 and Super8 formats, it was a worthwhile purchase. Having completed all of my personal films, I’m moving on to the archive collection.

The film scanner has a built in screen to show the frames being scanned, but I connect it to an external monitor to see better whether I have the exposure and other adjustments set correctly. Then it’s just a case of sitting back and waiting for the scan to end. I make some adjustments to exposure and colour in post-production after the scan is complete. The end result is vastly improved over the previous version that I put up in 2016 and of course it’s now in HD.

Colin Grimshaw July 2020

 

Sir Douglas Bader: 1981

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

In December 1981 former RAF pilot Sir Douglas Bader visited Imperial College Bookshop to promote and sign copies of his new autobiography. He took part in the Battle of Britain, was imprisoned at Colditz Castle and his life was chronicled in the film Reach for the Sky.  Surrounded by copies of his books, Lawerence Windley managed to get a few words with him.

Within a year of this video, in September 1982, he had died.

Colin Grimshaw July 2020

Review of the Year: 1979-1980

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

One of the extremely useful things about STOIC’s Review of the Year programmes is that they showcased some of the most important things happening in college. In this edition from 40 years ago in June 1980, David Ghani and Paul Johnson give us a glimpse of events as seen through the lens of STOIC’s camera crew. As you will see, a large amount was still in black and white. In fact, this edition of the Review of the Year is the first to be shot in colour and that was simply because it was recorded within the confines of the College TV Studio. And if you look carefully you might spot that even the studio sequences have been shot and edited together in film style, using our single colour camera.

Look out for Rag Week events, STOIC’s 10th Anniversary and one department potentially about to go broke!

Colin Grimshaw 6 June 2020

Pallab Ghosh – Wells Soc Revival: 1981

Friday, May 1st, 2020

Who would have thought that this first appearance on TV at Imperial College would lead to a career on the BBC? Yes, it’s Pallab Ghosh now Science Correspondent for BBC News. Pallab studied Physics at Imperial which was probably a good all-rounder for what came next.

But before his BBC career he was the editor of the student newspaper Felix. I do have the videotape of his Felix Editor Hustings Speech from 3 March 1983 (we’ll see that soon). Prior to that though, he was the chairman of the Imperial College HG Wells Society. Back in 1981, he was speaking to STOIC’s Martin Cowen about the revival of the society and what was planned in the coming months, including a potential Loch Ness Monster expedition!

The photo above shows Pallab during a visit to Imperial College in 2014.

Colin Grimshaw May 2020

University Challenge selections: 1981/1984

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020

With the Imperial College team being the current winners of the 2020 University Challenge I thought it would be interesting to go back to both 1981 and 1984 to see how STOIC helped to select the teams for those years.

In 1981 it was achieved in the same way as the TV programme with the participants sitting as they do in the actual programme. This must have proved a challenge itself because in 1984 it was done in the style of Mastermind, but with a green chair rather than black. The first programme was shot in black and white, as the TV Studio had not by then gone into full colour. The photo on the right was during the 1981 recording. Mike Hackett was the presenter in 1981 and Richard Monkhouse in 1984.

Colin Grimshaw – April 2020

IC Big Band: 1978

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

This video has me very confused! I’m having trouble finding references or information about the IC Big Band in the videotape index other than just this single one. I do know however that this one item was from 21st June 1978 and featured on STOIC’s Lunch Break weekly programme. I can’t even get any clues to the location used. I do however recognise one person in the video as having been involved with STOIC, so I assume that pins it down to the Imperial campus perhaps? On the videotape there is no introduction, just the music session so that doesn’t help me either. More information lost in time and never recorded anywhere.

It appears however that the IC Big Band does still exist today and have their own Website and Facebook page too! Here’s what they say about themselves:

The official big band of Imperial College London, IC Big Band regularly performs top quality jazz in and around the capital. The platinum award-winning band consists of current university students at Imperial College London, and has gained an excellent reputation that grows year on year.

Colin Grimshaw – April 2020

John Passmore – ICU President: 1980

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

John Passmore was the ICU President from 1980-81 and elected into that post in March 1980. The front page of Felix announced the election results on its front page of 14 March 1980. STOIC interviewed him in the TV Studio just after the new term had started. From the 8 October 1980, here he is talking to Graeme Shaw.

Not that long after the term had started he was in the news again. He was the victim of a ‘kidnapping’ rag stunt by City University. Once more STOIC was on the case and here’s their report from 13 November 1980, Mike Hackett was the location reporter.

Colin Grimshaw March 2020

Nick Brayshaw – ICU President: 1976

Sunday, March 1st, 2020

In this blog we have the oldest interviews with an Imperial College Student Union President. Nick Brayshaw had just been elected into the post in March 1976 for the period 1976-1977. STOIC’s news programme was then called Lunch Break and was largely broadcast live from the college TV studio. These particular programmes were only recorded so that we could see what they looked like after the broadcasts. Luckily, for what ever reason, these interviews were copied onto the U-matic format and survive to this day.

Firstly, live coverage from the Great Hall with Nick Brayshaw’s acceptance speech and interview by Mark Caldwell.

Chatting to Nick Brayshaw later that week was Mike Williams. Mike was a former editor of the Imperial College student newspaper FELIX (1974-1975). He did many interviews for STOIC including another one also broadcast live, but this time over the ILEA cable network covering the whole of London. On that occasion in 1977 he interviewed the then film reviewer for the BBC Barry Norman.  I was in touch with him recently and he now resides in the USA and is working at the University of San Francisco.

Colin Grimshaw March 2020

STOIC@50: 1970-2020

Monday, February 17th, 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