Tag: STOIC

News-Break’s Rag Week: 1980

From 40 years ago see all of the delights of Rag Week in November 1980. Seen here by the black and white location camera of STOIC for their weekly programme News-Break. This is the only record of the 1980 event that still exists. There are probably reports and a few photos in Felix, but here we can see and hear the week in all of its detail. We can’t smell some of it though!

Do you remember such delights as the Raft Race or the Pram Race? Maybe some of the events are in fact seen better in just black and white? Morphy Day on the Tow path at Putney is one good example (above colour image from a later year). A large number of things that used to happen in rag week are now just history. For example, I don’t recall hearing of the Raft Race for many years. The STOIC reporters on location were: Mike Hackett, Tracy Poole (now Tracy Dudley) and Grant Richmond.

All I can say is……enjoy!

Colin Grimshaw November 2020


 

Things to come!

Yet more discoveries from some recent digitisation. The 8mm film reel (shown at the bottom) was used in the 1971 Christmas edition of STOIC’s TOPIC news programme, for which I have the (videotape) audio. This 8mm reel was also a compilation of items already shown earlier in that term. I appear to have some original location audio for some of the filmed items on the audio tape (shown at the top). Once more, a large number of these filmed items were in colour, but only ever seen via black and white TV. It’s now just a case of trying to see it I can match things up. If I can succeed then we have film of: “Morphy Day Rowing”, “Silly Football”,  “Imperial College’s Day of Action”, “Motor Trials” and more. Some screen shots from these items can be seen below. And if, nearly 50 years ago,  you were taking part or involved in any of this, then please do let me know. Contact details at the end of this blog post.

Colin Grimshaw November 2020


 

STOIC’s Lord Mayor’s Show report: 1971

Because this years 2020 event is cancelled, let’s go back nearly 50 years for an on-location report by STOIC on the 13 November 1971 Lord Mayor’s Show. This was shot on 8mm film for inclusion in their weekly news programme, then called TOPIC. I made two very important discoveries when sorting out and collating the collection of either badly or completely unlabelled 8mm films. Firstly, this particular film was actually shot in colour, but only ever seen in black and white. Secondly, I also discovered an audiotape that had a listing inside. One segment was marked “Lord Mayor’s Show – long film report”, but with no date. Fortunately, the sound track commentary has a date mentioned, which led me to finding out that it was the same as the film. And, although the film was only marked as ‘BBC; Carnival; 1973’, the content was clearly the same thing, so the date was wrong. The clincher was the mention on the audio tape of that years theme title of “students today, engineers tomorrow”.  Also, the BBC float was mentioned with ‘space men’ being located next to the C&G float, so that confirmed things. This could not have been any other year than 1971.

I’ve adjusted and corrected the film as best as possible. The audio was never intended to ‘sync’ with the actual film images, but rather to complement it with real ‘on-location’ sounds and a report with interviews. But to make this work I have had to second-guess the film speed. It could have been shot at either 16fps or 18fps, the reel doesn’t say. Also, when the film was projected did it run at the correct speed? Therefore, I’ve had to adjust the digitised film speed to attempt to match the audio duration. The person you’ll hear commentating is former STOIC Chairman Tim Dye. Were you a student on the C&G float back then and are you now retired?

I’ve also found other sound recordings, suggesting that they are linked to more 8mm film reports. I just need to do some more research and try to identify the films, that’s if I do indeed have them of course. But for now, let’s go back 50 years for the sights and sounds of the Lord Mayor’s Show 1971.

Colin Grimshaw November 2020


 

Bo goes London to Brighton: 1977

Today I have what was another mystery film from the STOIC archives. In digitising the 8mm films that were used in their earlier programmes I found two reels of Super8 colour film marked London (to) Brighton. No date or further details were on the reels. It was a mystery as to why this was shot on film because clues lead me to believe it was perhaps around 1978 or so. By then, STOIC had their own Sony portable videorecorder for location work. I looked for clues in the actual footage but couldn’t spot anything that might give me a date. Until…..in one very small segment you will see Bo (Boanerges) has broken down outside of a cinema. This was in Streatham in South London. I could just make out, by zooming into one frame, a film title on the outside hoarding on the cinema. I looked it up on Google and it was dated as 1977. So, this was clearly the London to Brighton run on Sunday 6 November 1977.

I have no clues or idea as to why this was shot on 8mm colour film. The two reels are unedited and even look as if they were never used. If anything was indeed used it would have been in the weekly Lunchbreak programme. Was Rag week the same weekend as this event and therefore the videorecorder was not available because it was already in use?

We may never know the answer, but here anyway is the digital transfer of Bo, going from London to Brighton in 1977. Oh, and that’s Sir Hugh Ford sitting on the back seat in the middle.

Colin Grimshaw November 2020


 

News-Break’s Mini Metro report: 1980

40 years ago on the 29 October 1980 STOIC reported on, what was then, the new Mini Metro car. This location report was one of several undertaken on location using their portable video recording equipment. Yes, it’s still in black and white because colour for them was still a little while away, even though the TV Studio had already converted.

Tracy Poole and Grant Richmond are the reporters on location at the Design Centre in London’s Haymarket.

Colin Grimshaw 29 October 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


 

TOPIC – rediscovered 8mm film: 1972

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

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

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

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