During the recent transfer of 8mm films into digital, I came across a film that I had forgotten all about.
In 1971 some 3rd year students in Electrical Engineering came up with the idea of shooting a film as part of their end of term project. I’m pretty sure that these students must have had a connection with Professor Colin Cherry who was then Professor of Telecommunication in their department. I am assuming this connection with the film because both he and his former secretary are credited at the end. After 50 years we will never actually know.
Digitising the film was, as usual, not an easy job. The sound is a magnetic track bonded to the edge of the film and playable only via a suitable 8mm projector. Fortunately, when the TV Studio was closed, I had rescued the Eumig 8mm projector that was actually used to record the soundtrack back in 1971. The magnetic track was added to the film using a very clever device that glued the very thin piece of magnetic tape onto the edge of the film. If you look above the sprocket holes you can see this track. I know that some films had lost their tracks when the glue gave way, but this film was all OK.
I recorded the sound from the projector, cleaned it up and adjusted the speed to be correct. I was able to judge this because I was amazed to discover that I had actually recorded part of the voice-over and that was my clue to getting the speed correct. I then adjusted the duration/speed of the film to then match the soundtrack duration.
Sadly the students that made this are not credited on the film, so we may never know who they were. But, after 50 years here’s the film called “Students” made in 1971.
In June 2006 The Duke of Edinburgh put on a hard hat and boots to watch students building their own versions of engineering landmarks.
The engineering students from Civil Engineering were taking part in Constructionarium, an annual event in which groups had just five days to tackle a challenging project, such as creating a seven metre high version of the world’s tallest vehicular bridge, the Millau viaduct in Southern France.
The event was designed to give students hands-on experience of engineering in a realistic environment. The projects took place on a two hectare section of a Norfolk site which is used for training specialist construction trade workers such as scaffolders and steeplejacks. The site, in Bircham Newton, was owned by the National Construction College.
Prince Philip visited on the students’ last day and saw the projects in their final stages. He was given a tour of the different projects underway, and watched as students pulled a replica oil rig to the middle of a lake and stabilised it. The TV Studio (by then called Media Services) was on hand to capture the event.
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.
In 2005 the Industrial Design Engineering course (now called Innovation Design Engineering) held their interim show. Paul Ewing from Imperial’s Mechanical Engineering was then an IDE course tutor and he asked us to capture some of the activities during one of the evening shows. Paul acted as off-camera interviewer during the shoot at the Royal College of Art, right next door to Imperial College.
This course has now been running for over 35 years and here’s a flavour of what was happening 13 years ago…
In 2003 we produced a DVD for the undergraduate course in the Faculty of Life Sciences. The DVD covered course details for Biochemistry & Biology in the Department of Biological Sciences and Agricultural Science in the Department of Agricultural Sciences.
Begun in 1975 as an undergraduate group project, the Pimlico Connection has grown over the years to become a key strand in Imperial’s widening participation activities. Emeritus Professor Sinclair Goodlad, founder of the initial project, recalls the early days of the scheme when just a handful of students began mentoring in local schools. “Originally we were looking at it primarily from the point of view of what students would gain from the experience – developing their communication skills and really getting to know their subject by finding ways to explain concepts clearly. However it soon became clear that there were great benefits to the schools as well.”
Students provide tutoring between 1-3 hours per week January-March. And now, in 2016, the Pimlico Connection is already celebrating its 40th year.
We made this 1995 promotional video for what was then simply called, “The Management School”. Its base was across the other side of Exhibition Road at 53 Prince’s Gate, a building already owned by Imperial College. The school opened in 1987 and was headed by David Norburn. At that time the department planned to teach about 120 students in a full-time MBA course and about 150 part-time MBA along with about 150 undergrads in a business degree course.
The idea behind the Management School was for Imperial to compete with the best business schools in the country. It was quoted as saying “the primary aim of the Management School is to become a top international business school”. A few names changes later, the Imperial College Business School is now based in a new Norman Foster designed building on Exhibition Road.
In 1981 the Centre for Robotics and Automation was formed by Professor Tom Husband and was located in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. 30 years ago, in 1984 we made a promotional video for the centre to showcase the activities and work being carried out. I can find little or nothing about the centre (or any photos) from college sources and assume it was closed some while after Tom Husband left Imperial College in 1990. Indeed, in Hannah Gay’s ‘History of Imperial College’ she comments that the move towards robotics didn’t work out as expected since the research attracted computer scientists rather than engineers. The only article I found on the centre is from an edition of the student newspaper Felix dated May 1985 (see pages 8&9). That centre is not to be confused with the current Centre for Robotic Surgery, which is something completely different.
The centre was located in the area of Mechanical Engineering that was on the corner that fronted onto both Exhibition Road and the entrance for cars (Imperial College Road). You can see people walking along the pavement and very close to the windows in the section that shows the Lansing robot working. The running of the robots was in fact a bit of a crowd-stopper at times, especially school kids on their way to and from the museums. It was one of the few showcases that Imperial ever had, maybe we need to bring one back again!
Back in 2010 I brought you the two videos that were made to coincide with the City and Guilds centenary in 1985, they were Studying for the Future and Discovering the Future. I had promised to bring you a third video made later in that year called Mastering the Future. Obviously, this video was intended to showcase and promote the idea of taking a masters degree at Imperial College.
Key figures from Industry were featured to give a sense of what was required from University students taking such masters degrees. One person appearing was Sir George Porter, later Lord Porter who was then President of the Royal Institution. Later he moved to Imperial College to continue his research work. By the time the video was made Eric Ash had become Rector, superseding Brian Flowers. One of the few recordings that we have of Professor Bruce Sayers, then head of computing and also dean of City and Guilds is part of this video. Once more there are some great views of ‘Imperial past’ featured such as: the original front entrance on Exhibition Road; Sports Centre and Gym; Libraries and the 1960’s Walkway with Bookshop.
26 years ago, in 1987 I made a promotional video for the Department of Materials. It had a slightly grander title that usual, “Engineering with Atoms: Materials, Science and Engineering at Imperial College”. Once again this video is a treasure of scenes and images of life at Imperial College in the mid 1980’s. And, as with most promotional videos that we made, it contained a large amount of ‘stock footage’ from previous videos and some of this is now notable because of the vast changes that have taken place on the South Kensington campus.
As with all promotional videos an enormous input was required from the actual department in terms of what they needed to say and to show. Getting the words right is vital, so from the department I was aided by colleagues: Kilner, Rawlings, Flower and Walker. The latter two also provided the male and female voice-overs heard on the video. Harvey Flower is notable because of his tragic death in April 2005. He’s also seen in one sequence sitting at an electron microscope and later on he’s standing with his colleague at a departmental party.
Other worthy mentions are Princes Gardens with its old layout design and masses of colourful summer flowers, along with the original halls of residence. Also making an appearance are the 1960’s frontage of buildings facing onto Exhibition Road; the walkway and JCR. Making it into the video as well is the old swimming pool and tennis courts (located where the new Eastside Halls now stand). I’m fairly certain that the departmental library would have been merged into the central library, so shots of that in the video are also a record of daily life in the department. In fact the whole video is a snapshot of what Imperial College was like in 1987 and a true Video Archive post if ever there was one!
The usual tape problems occurred with the digitisation of this video, so any slight glitches or jumps are due to those problems. As always, if you are seen in this video please do let us know where you are now and what you are doing. Use the reply box below to make contact with me.