Category: Blog update

Op Soc 2 – Princess Ida: 1986

Today we have something in colour, and that makes a change from mostly black and white videos. Way back in February 1986, a few months before STOIC broke away from the College TV Studio, they reported on Op Soc. I’ve looked through the videotape card index and there are three cards listing STOIC’s coverage of Op Soc’s productions. If you look at the first card that I scanned, you can get an impression of just how many were covered. Intriguingly, I also spot a February 1979 twenty minute documentary programme (D5). Sadly, if it still exists, it’s on the Ampex 7003 One Inch type A format, which we can no longer play.

Luckily, we do have from 1986 Op Soc with Princess Ida. This is a review with clips, not the entire production. I’m assuming that this was in the union building concert hall.

Colin Grimshaw September 2021

Opening of College Block: 1969

In this blog we are going to hear the 1969 opening ceremony of the new College Block, later renamed as the Sherfield Building (1975). Until now, only extracts have been heard, but here is the full recording with Lord Sherfield the Chairman of the Governing Body, HM Queen and Lord Penney Rector of the college. The full ceremony only exists as an audio recording, with a few segments filmed on 16mm film, but without synchronised sound. Strangely, we could have very easily set up video cameras and recorded the entire proceedings on videotape, but we were never asked. I guess we are just lucky that an audio recording was made.

The images are frame grabs from the 16mm film because I have never seen photos taken in the Great Hall during the ceremony. There is a front page about the event in the edition of Felix from 4 December 1969. Interestingly, there is a ‘typo’ in the Hannah Gay book on the history of Imperial College. In the index, under Sherfield Building it refers to it as formerly “Centre” Block, this typo only appears once!

Colin Grimshaw August 2021

Silly Football (Taylor Memorial): 1971

In the Christmas edition of Felix from 1971 it was announced that on the 9 December the Taylor Memorial (Silly) Football Match would take place. It did, and STOIC were there to capture the event. You’ll notice that the picture is rather dim and very grainy. That’s because it was shot on 8mm film that STOIC developed ‘in house’ rather than use colour film that required external processing. With this method the film was available to be used within hours. It was in fact used in the Christmas Edition of TOPIC the weekly news programme. No sound of course, but there was a commentary added during the programme.

Were you in either of the teams back in December 1971? And does anyone know why it was the Taylor Memorial match? I can’t find any references to that name.

Colin Grimshaw July 2021

The Queen Mother visits St Mary’s: 1954

This post is a rare exception because the moving images, (in this case on 35mm film) are not held by Imperial College. The clips are from a British Pathé News item that would have been seen only in cinemas.

The Queen Mother visited St Mary’s Medical School for the 1954 Centenary Celebrations and I assume, is seen putting items into the second foundation stone (time capsule?) for the new buildings. Both of the reels do look as if they were never actually used and appear more like original rushes. An end result for Pathé would have had a commentary etc, on it. So don’t be concerned that the segments seem to stop and start a lot.

Colin Grimshaw July 2021

Topic: 1973 and 1974

I have just stumbled across a copy of Felix for 4 December 1973. In it I found a promotion for STOIC’s weekly news-magazine programme TOPIC. The photo shows that is was promoting the “Golden Moments” of Rag Week in the Christmas edition of the programme on Friday 7 December. I’m sure that Rag Week would have been a few weeks earlier and suspect that this would have been shot on film, that possibly needed external developing, by Kodak perhaps?

I can also tell that this was just around the time when the co-axial cable had been run from the TV Studio all the way through the heating tunnels to the Beit Quad building. Sadly as usual, not a single edition of a TOPIC programme remains, they were all erased. What we do have are some of the 8mm films that were used within the programmes and I am now featuring those when I have scanned the film into digital. In two cases I have an audio tape of the actual soundtrack, as in Christmas and Easter editions.

One single item that does remain is an opening sequence, recorded in the original TV Studio on 30 January 1974. I really can’t say whether or not this was actually used in any of the programmes. Mark Caldwell, STOIC Chairman is seen, along with Paul Jarvis as Floor-manager. Dave Salmon is on camera 1 which is seen panning around. You can also see the original animated logo caption rotating around that was made by Selwyn Castleden. There’s an over the shoulder view of the control room with Steve Bell and Selwyn. There is also a brief glimpse of STOIC’s portable “rover’ videotape unit as Paul Jarvis walks in front of it. You will also see a great shot of the huge 2 inch Quadraplex videotape recorder that was donated by RCA. The very rare colour photo, taken on 1 May 1974 shows Selwyn and me in the control room looking very hard at a monitor.

 

Colin Grimshaw June 2021


 

PM Gordon Brown Visit: 2008

In October 2008 the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid a visit to the Imperial College Business School. We were there to cover the event along with a crew from Number 10 and also ITV News. In a presentation that he made, he commented that he already had a connection with Imperial College because a relative had been a Professor here. Indeed he was more than just a Professor, he was a Head of Department. In fact his Uncle was Professor John Brown, Head of Electrical Engineering for 21 years and my head of department when the TV Studio was within Electrical Engineering. On the left hand side of this rare photo is John Brown seen during the retirement reception for Departmental Superintendent, John Ganley, in around 1976.

And there is even more of Gordon Brown’s relative on video. Cast your mind back to the blog about STOIC’s first news programme, IC Newsreel in 1970, where he made an appearance giving an obituary for Lord Willis Jackson.

 

Colin Grimshaw June 2021

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


 

Blog Design Changes: October 2020

There have been some changes recently to the design and layout of this blog. I’m finding that things can look a bit different at times and you might also been finding that? If you notice anything odd happening with the new layout and that images or videos are looking strange, then do please tell me via the contact page.

Also, I no longer have a list of those I’ve added myself to email notifications, so you might not even be seeing this post! But I hope you do, because I have some great posts coming up soon. There are more 8mm colour film discoveries and one blog is about how Imperial started something that ended up on international TV…

Colin Grimshaw October 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


 


Vision from the past

We will be having some newly discovered items coming up in future blogs. I’m now slowly working my way through many boxes of videotapes from the extensive archive of STOIC and digitising then. If you recall, I managed to save these from being trashed many years ago when STOIC had to clear out their space for rebuilding. If I hadn’t had the college archives take the lot, then they would, by now, have been recycled!

Why is this collection important to Imperial? Well, in the TV Studio we had a specific remit and that was to record what was required for teaching, promotion and so on. All of these jobs created income for the studio and we could not just go off and record what we wanted to, without someone paying for it. However, STOIC could and indeed did just that. Therefore, in their archive we have interviews with not just students but with people like Rectors, Admin Staff, College Secretaries, Professors and so on. These, in some cases, are unique and now invaluable to us.

At present I am digitising a U-matic videotape that has a 40 year old recording of the then Student Union President Chris Fox (seen on the screen above). On the 15 March 1979 live on STOIC, from the college TV Studio, he chatted to Paul Johnson. I’ll be showing that in the next blog. Getting these videotapes to play back is not always that easy. Tapes are showing their age and tend to shed oxide and clog the video heads. This then requires the lid to be taken off the machine and the heads and guides, cleaned (photo on right).

Once the tape will play back from start to finish it’s then time to adjust the video levels before capturing onto hard drive and finally onto DVD. When these tapes were made, the cameras were within a category called ‘industrial’ and sometimes ‘educational’. They had pick-up tubes, not chips, as in these days. Lighting was basic and sometimes crude. Our ability to adjust these cameras individually was limited to say the least. Therefore, when replaying these tapes here in 2019 I have to almost ‘ride’ the video signal and adjust it, as the cameras switch around on the recording.

The final DVD then resides in the tape box and the side marked accordingly. That will mean (hopefully) that even if the tape can’t be played back in the future the DVD will be. It’s worth pointing out that the quality of a DVD is higher than the original videotapes would have ever been. Therefore we have not lost any quality in using this method. And, when the time comes, we can further transcode from the DVD into MP4 for web use. Not only is there a problem with the actual tapes playing back, but even more vital are the machines to play them on. Maintaining these machines is now vital and using them to transfer tapes onto new media is a big task for everyone with a videotape library. For example, the BBC, over many years have done this same process to digitise the whole of its archive, both videotape and film.

Colin Grimshaw June 2019