Tag: Students

Undergraduate Project: 1970

Something that seems to go unrecorded are the times when a student creates a project with an end result that then greatly benefits the college. In this example we need to go back to the summer term of 1970. A 3rd year student from Electrical Engineering undertook a project to create a simple video effects generator. This unit was able to make split screens, squares and so on. It became an essential tool within the TV Studio from the moment it was made until the day the studio was closed down. In the photo, the arrow indicates the unit installed in the first TV studio in January 1975. Recently I found some 8mm film that I shot showing the student with the unit that he made. We paid for the workshop to fabricate a case and you’ll see that in the film and following videos. In more recent times (in the second TV studio) we fitted it into the equipment rack and you’ll see that at the end.

There were many videos where we took advantage of being able to use split screens. Such an example is the APL video I made with Professor Bob Spence in 1975, you’ll see a clip from that. And, in the two clips showing the unit working, yes, it really is a very young version of me!

So, a worthwhile project that created something that lasted in use for 37 years and NEVER ever had a single fault.

Colin Grimshaw February 2021

News-Break’s Badge Society feature: 1982

On STOIC’s weekly news programme “News-Break”, all sorts of things were featured. From interviews with Rectors about college funding cuts; the siege at the Iranian embassy; potential integrations of another college into Imperial, through to….making badges!

Yes, the making of badges was indeed a feature on the 13 January 1982 edition of News-Break. Regular presenter Mike Hackett talked to the chairman of Badge Soc, Chris Taylor from Mechanical Engineering. In fact when you see the badge making device it does look like it should have been in the Mechanical Engineering Workshop. Below, from FELIX, is Badge Soc’s Small Ad.

So, in the same programme that featured the potential QEC ‘merger’ with Imperial we have Badge Soc. Chris Taylor is doing his impression of Imperial’s own (Dr) Brian May with that haircut it seems. Here then is STOIC’s very best ‘Blue Peter’ item for the first programme of the year (1982) 38 years ago.

Colin Grimshaw February 2021

Andy Rushton – C&G President: 1982

On 13 January 1982 edition of STOIC’s News-Break, Mike Hackett visited the City and Guilds office. Andy Rushton was then the president of C&G and he spoke about what was coming up and happening during the term. He also spoke about the forthcoming C&G elections. Some information I managed to find about Andy tells me that since 2011, he has been a Principal Consultant at ESR Technology providing major hazard services onshore and offshore. He also has involvement with the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

Once again this video was not without its technical problems and challenges. The studio sequences are all more or less OK, because they used high quality cameras. However, the camera that STOIC used for location work was nowhere near such quality and used what was called a single striped colour tube. The combination of being a tube camera and it producing the final colour by this method, was never without its problems.

The colour balance on the original was way-off and at the time, in 1982, we had no way of correcting this in post production. The still (above) that I’ve grabbed, is what it looked like directly from the programme master-tape during correction. I’ve struggled to produce something less green but have had to settle with what you are about to see. If the colour isn’t there, you can’t produce it out of thin air!

Colin Grimshaw January 2021

Christmas on STOIC: 1981

How was Christmas celebrated around Imperial College in years past? Very little remains in terms of records and archives of what happened or indeed what the campus actually looked like. We do have a glimpse of what people saw through the lens of STOIC and via the videotapes that remain. For the weeks leading up to Christmas of 1981 it was a time to announce that this particular year was the first that STOIC would be in full colour (better late than never). What better way for them to celebrate this, than to ‘make festive’ their very own logo. If anyone remembers the original BBC One moving logo, then this Imperial College version by its students gives a feel from the period. This only exists because it was archived on videotape and has remained unseen for these nearly 40 years. Interestingly, this would not now be possible to make. The shot was taken from the TV Studio window and that’s Mech Eng in the background. The Faculty Building would now block the entire view and besides, the college closed the studio anyway! The trees (now gone) of Dalby Court had genuine snow on them back in December 1981, so this gave a festive feel for a few days at least. The TV monitors in the Junior Common Room, Southside, Union and Weeks Hall all displayed “Christmas in Colour” prior to, and after STOIC’s transmissions on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1pm and 6pm.

STOIC’s Christmas 1981 didn’t end with just this logo. They were prompted to replicate Blue Peters very own Advent Crown. But don’t worry, this was far from being sensible and indeed is typical of “silly” students at their best. Martin Cowan was the main leader of silliness that year and he’s emailed me to say that he has fond memories of his time at Imperial. A lot of effort was put into this sequence including shots outside around the Queens Tower and in (what was) the workshop area of the college TV Studio on the main campus walkway. Even at the end of the programme there were still laughs to be had from the presenters. Oh well it was Christmas I guess and a time when we still had a Rector! The picture of the Christmas studio crew was taken at the end of the 1981 recording. Sadly though, two of that crew pictured here have since died, but their contributions can still be seen today in the saved STOIC videotape and film archive.

And finally, something a little different. Martin Cowan was also involved in a music group called SSIK. The last video we’re going to see was their contribution to the Christmas programme. In a somewhat complicated and psychedelic production that they filmed all around Imperial. Can you spot the obvious Albert Memorial and steps leading to the Albert Hall? Also. eagle-eyed might also spot the sequence from the top of the Union Building along with some interior corridor shots too. The editing was very involved when they were trying to match-up the music track to what had been shot outside. I was asked to help on the editing and to also add the colourising, and we might have gone a little over the top with that perhaps? Anyway, it’s a bit unusual and something to cheer us all up these 40 years later with various UK restrictions in place (Covid-19).

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and let’s hope it will be a better year in 2021.

Colin Grimshaw 16 December 2020


 

City and Guilds A to Z Rally: 1971

Some of the 8mm films that I re-discovered, and have since digitised in HD, are for the 1971 Christmas edition of TOPIC. This was the weekly news programme made by STOIC and shown in the Junior Common Room. There are several items that were featured in the programme that originated on 8mm film, some in colour and some not. As previously discussed, very few videotapes still exist from the early years of recording in the TV Studio. It was mainly the cost of the actual videotapes that prohibited us from keeping them for archiving. However, a way to keep something of a programme was to copy the audio onto a relatively cheap audio tape. Fortunately this was done for a few programmes made by STOIC the student TV service. I also have some extracts from various TOPIC programmes that I kept myself. However, the interesting thing about TOPIC from Christmas 1971 is that not only does the audio from the programme still exist, but the film inserts do too. So, I am recreating some of the items as they would have been seen some 50 years ago. The only difference is that many of the filmed items were actually shot in colour, even though we ran in black and white until 1979.

The first item to be recreated in HD is the City and Guilds Motor Club’s A to Z Rally. I have slight confusion over the date though. Dave Willis who you’ll hear on the soundtrack says Sunday 4th December, but the Sunday was the 5th. I’m assuming, from looking at the film, that this was indeed a Sunday because the roads look very quiet and that he was simply given the wrong date.

Either way, we know that it’s December 1971 regardless of the actual date. So here then is what would have been seen nearly 50 years ago, along with the original studio commentary and background sounds.

Colin Grimshaw December 2020


 

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.

I’ve had a great comment from Paul Jowitt about this post and video (incidentally I think he meant the 1971 show):

Enjoyed the 1970 Lord Mayor’s Show video!
I was C&GU President at time and was the one standing up in the back of Bo.
Happy days!
Yours
Paul

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


 

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