Posts Tagged ‘TV Studio’

Jack Scott – the missing interview: 1989

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Back in 2013 I wrote about some of the videos that we had made specifically for schools. One of those videos was Weather on the Move with Francis Wilson. You can read about, and see, that video from the link above. In making such videos you always shoot more material than you are going to use. However, in this case we shot something that we could not use because of a technical fault.

As part of the weather programme Francis Wilson wanted to interview TV’s legendary weather forecaster Jack Scott (1923-2008) We went to Jack’s home and as you will see, shot the interview very appropriately outside in his garden. All was well and that was it. However, when we tried to replay the video it was completely unstable on the colour lock. Most of the time it reverted to black and white. No matter what I tried, it would not playback in locked stable colour. So that part of the programme was dropped.

That was still the case until about a year ago when I decided to try again. With a brand new playback machine it locked and ran first time in full stable colour. I committed it to DVD for safety, but alas it was far too late to ever be used for the purpose we intended.

So, nearly 30 years later, here is Jack Scott in full colour talking to Francis Wilson.

Colin Grimshaw November 2018

Live-Net & Westminster Cable TV: 1987

Saturday, September 1st, 2018

Previously, I’ve mentioned the University of London’s Live-Net fibre optic cable system that once connected London’s Universities, from a central BT switching system at Senate House. Recently I’ve discovered the Thames Television news item that covered the official opening on 28 May 1987 and this can be seen below. During the opening event three sites were initially seen on screens in Senate House: Royal Holloway; Imperial and Queen Mary.

Strangely enough I don’t recall us taking any photos during this event and therefore this is the only record of the day. And if you look closely at the central screen with Imperial on it you’ll see me over on the right hand side. My academic colleague Prof Ernie Freeman was sitting in the middle and played host for our site. The image on the right is an off-screen grab of that central screen’s video feed.

Closely linked to the Live-Net technology was Westminster Cable TV. This was also a BT technology and Live-Net borrowed and improved upon that domestic system. In fact it’s closely related to our current Broadband FTTC where optical fibre brings the internet to a local street cabinet and from there it arrives at your home via copper phone lines. In Live-Net’s case it arrived directly with us as a fibre feed termination.

So what is my connection with Westminster Cable TV? Well, because of the on-going BT involvement with both Live-Net and Westminster Cable TV I got to know everyone on both projects. I was approached to sound out how an experiment might be operated to utilise a unique option that existed for the cable TV customers. That was the ‘theoretical’ ability to run video FROM the customer backwards to the Westminster Cable TV hub. Indeed the local equipment in the TV Studio had those sockets on the box, but BT had never pursued the idea. It did work when we tried it, but the image quality at the other end was apparently dreadful and unusable. In September 1990 we’d already agreed to run an experimental computer training ‘at home’ series, that was sponsored by the Training Agency. Everyone was on board, but the ‘reverse line video feed’ technology had, by then, failed us. My BT research labs colleague stepped in and had the ability to order a direct point-to-point microwave link from the top of the Electrical Engineering Building and by using this, our studio feed hopped across Hyde Park to Westminster Cable TV in Paddington.

We took live incoming phone questions too via the earpiece that was worn by Kevin Hamilton. I ran the pre-recorded opening sequence that included the Westminster Cable TV animation logo. The engineers at the other end had to switch a regular channel (A7) to accept my studio feed. Thus you’ll see my instructions on the countdown clock to remind them what to do and when. And yes, this might remind you of the 1977 STOIC News series that I also did live, using the ILEA cable TV system that fed all of the London Schools and Colleges.

Soon, I’ll go on to talk about the Olympus Satellite project, the Live-Net uplink ground station at Silwood Park and yes, you guessed it, more live TV from the TV Studio, but this time to Europe! So, yet more educational ‘firsts’ that have, so far, gone unmentioned (until now).

Colin Grimshaw September 2018

John Firth – Chairman ICU Pub Board: 1979

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

ICU Pub Board was always an odd name. But, as Paul Johnson from STOIC explains, it means Publications Board. John Firth had just been elected as Chairman when he spoke to Paul in the college TV Studio. Pub Board oversaw the finances for Felix, STOIC, IC Radio, ICU Handbook etc

I’m pleased that this is one of the first full-colour studio recordings from STOIC and that it has survived these nearly 40 years.

Colin Grimshaw August 2018

Chris Sleap – RSMU President Elect: 1979

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

Today I’ve unearthed an unusual interview, it’s with Chris Sleap, who at the time of this interview in May 1979, was RSM Union President Elect. However, on further research I find that in FELIX dated October 1979 Chris Sleap had failed his exams. FELIX also states that papers will go back up for this (and other failed Union posts) shortly.

I’ve not been able to find out who did actually take on this roll, later that year. This then is a somewhat unique interview. Mark Foley was the interviewer in the college TV Studio. We’d still not gone fully into colour, so interviews were still in black and white.

Colin Grimshaw July 2018

A unique Commemoration Day: 2002

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

Recently, whilst rearranging the shelves of archive videos I came across something I’d forgotten about. In 2002, Imperial had honoured Senior Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew (in recognition of his promotion of international trade and industry, and development of science and engineering study initiatives with the UK) by appointing him a Fellow of the College at the Commemoration Day held at the Royal Albert Hall.

Because this was a significant event, college had hired a company that occasionally provided a large video screen and cameras to help people see events in the Royal Albert Hall. We attended the event to get some background video shots and to also see what effect this new idea had on the ceremony. The previous night we had attended the first ever Commemoration Eve Dinner held at the Natural History Museum, where he gave the keynote address (seen left), we recorded and used that in full. College did not need his Commemoration Day speech recorded because we had the one from the previous day.

However, as this was the first time that cameras had been covering a Commemoration Day, I felt that this was unique enough to ask the company to make video recordings (right) of both morning and afternoon sessions. College had already indicated that they had no use for any of the footage, but, by being a ‘first’ I disagreed. So, both morning and afternoon events were recorded and promptly put into our archive collection and there they have sat for all of these 16 years.

Let’s see the first ever fully recorded Commemoration Day sessions from 23 October 2002 which are now available on line for the first time.

Colin Grimshaw May 2018

New Discoveries from the past

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

And yet more STOIC discoveries from 48 years ago. I was at Imperial yesterday and came across something I’d forgotten about and had really meant to do something about years ago. It’s another batch of 8mm films from the STOIC 1970-1972 “TOPIC” and “IC Newsreel” programmes era. A lot of it was shot on colour film stock, even though we only had black and white TV. All manner of things are there too! More of this once I can get them digitised.

And, just for a change, today I’m digitising two Betacam tapes that are now 16 years old. Commemoration Day 2002 was when Lee Kuan Yew was made a Fellow of Imperial College. The tapes I’m digitising are historic, as it was the first time a Commemoration Day had been recorded in its entirety and that was initially because of the special Fellowship being awarded. I have to say that they are all playing without errors – amazing!

More on all of these, soon…

Colin Grimshaw March 2018

Music in the TV Studio: 1979

Monday, January 1st, 2018

What better way to start 2018 than with some music. 39 years ago, way back in 1979, the student TV service STOIC were recording their weekly college-wide news programme called News-Break. This particular programme from 31 October 1979 featured a college jazz group called SP3 and I have no idea where that name came from, but it must mean something, probably science related I suspect. Music was not new in the studio as we’d tried this type of thing before and again later on in the 1980’s, but then it was in colour.

Introduced by STOIC regular Dave Ghani it was also the end of the programme, so you’ll see a few end credits appearing including my name it seems. This all looks very amateur but it was all done with less than mobile cameras, in one take and with no rehearsal either.

Colin Grimshaw January 2018

Speaking Backwards at Christmas: 1974

Monday, December 18th, 2017

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

Peter Mee: 2006

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

Peter Mee graduated in economics from University College London. In 1959 he moved to Imperial as assistant planning officer, a position he held for eight years and in 1967 was appointed registrar, a post he held until 1996, then becoming College secretary and clerk to the governors until his retirement. In collaboration with John Smith, the then secretary to the College, he formed the Harlington Trust.

Consistent throughout Peter Mee’s time at Imperial had been his support of sporting activities. He had been president of the IC Union Football Club and chairman of the Harlington Athletic Ground Committee. And the boat named after him by the IC Boat Club has crossed the winning line twice at Henley.

This discussion between Peter Mee and Anne Barrett, the college archivist, was recorded in the college TV Studio in May 2006. It was used, in part, during Imperial’s centenary celebrations in 2007. This is the first time that the full interview has been made available.

Colin Grimshaw October 2017

Students’ Union Rag Fete: 1979

Monday, September 4th, 2017

Way back in the days of black and white, the Student TV Service STOIC captured some of the excitement of the 1979 Students’ Union Rag Fete, that was held in Princes Gardens. This is also a good record of what the gardens looked like before they were altered at the time of the rebuilding of Southside Halls and Linstead Halls (see 1990’s photo on right). Guest celebrity was actor Christopher Biggins. The report is introduced from the TV Studio in colour, by Sarah Clifford.

Colin Grimshaw September 2017