Tag: Electrical Engineering

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

IC Newsreel Number 2: 1970

The second and final IC Newsreel was recorded on 2 March 1970. It was shown, like the first programme, at lunchtime the following day in the Junior Common Room in College Block (Sherfield). This final programme was a bit different and had a scoop too. Prior to the main recording, the Yugoslavian Prime Minister was visiting Imperial College and we were able to get the departure of him, his Police escort and his entourage.  Andy Finney and Vivienne Taylor stood outside the mechanical engineering building to cover the event, even though this was not originally their intention for being there. Andy was on a very long-range radio microphone and we used the longest lens possible on the camera, which (along with a second camera) was located on the third floor of the electrical engineering building. Because we had no way of inserting the item into the actual forthcoming news programme, Andy had to pre-record the item as it was happening, and we ran the item before the main program started. Not the conventional way to make a news program, but at least it was new and it was unique for that time. The news item by Andy is then followed by what was called a ‘crash’ edit (stop recording then restart again) so there are a few wobbles on the screen before the main programme starts.

Included in the programme were interviews with the three main candidates for the election of IC Union President. The first ever recording of this type.  Judith Walker won the election and became the first female in the role. She talks to Vivienne Taylor, also seen in IC Newsreel Number 1.
Just as we had ended the main recording and faded to black, the current Union President Piers Corbyn asked to be able to say a few words. So, following yet another crash edit, we faded back up and sort-of started again. The reason for these types of stops and start edits was because we only had one Ampex Videorecorder and that could not actually edit anyway.

Sadly no photos were taken at the time of these two news programme recordings, only the videotape survives, which is rare. The upper photo is of the TV studio in the late 1960’s and the lower, is just before the Philips Videorecorder, seen in the photo, was replaced by the Ampex, which was used to record the two IC Newsreels. The opening coverage of the Yugoslavian Prime Minister’s visit also gives the original view across Dolby Court, all the way from Electrical Engineering to Mechanical Engineering, a view now lost forever with the creation of the Faculty Building.

IC Newsreel paved the way for STOIC’s; TOPIC, Lunchbreak and then News-Break.

Colin Grimshaw March 2021

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

Eric Laithwaite 40 year anniversary: 1980

I’ve only just realised that it’s 40 years ago this very month that I interviewed Professor Eric Laithwaite. I had suggested to the college archives that we should record this interview. Although, at present, I’m not able to get access to the mastertape, I have attempted to correct the colour and enhance the original version, the best that I can. There are potentially other unseen interviews with Eric Laithwaite that were made by STOIC, but until Imperial sees the advantage of these archive gems, they will forever remain in the archives. Sadly, money is needed to fund the transfer of these Ampex Type A videotapes into digital form. This is something that I can no longer do myself because all of our old videotape equipment was disposed of when the TV Studio was closed in 2007. So this interview is therefore the only one with Eric Laithwaite that’s recorded at Imperial College.

I was the interviewer and it was recorded in his office in the heavy electrical engineering laboratory at Imperial College. The slight background noise is from the various motors and machines running in the lab.

Colin Grimshaw September 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


 

STOIC@50: 1970-2020

Three months after I started this Video Archive Blog I featured STOIC, that was in February 2010. Then, it was a mere 40 years since the Student TV Service had started. But now it’s reached the half century. You can of course read the two blogs about STOIC (One and Two) where you’ll find videos and lots of photos. So I won’t repeat all of those things again. What I will do is to include items that were never featured before and in particular videos discovered in the current digitisation of the STOIC archive.

What better way than to begin with those who started STOIC back in 1970 and continued thereafter. In 1980 it was 10 years since the start of their TV service and the video “Happy Birthday to Us” was made to celebrate and you can see that video in my blog STOIC One (links above). At the anniversary reception, held in the Senior Common Room on 15 February 1980, interviews were recorded with past Chairmen of STOIC including Andy Finney who was really the person who got things off the ground. Asking the questions is Grant Richmond who you will read more from later.

In the blog STOIC One there’s a 1971 tour of the Electrical Engineering Department’s (level 3) TV Studio, but now we have the tour made in June 1974. This is also a great record of the studio itself which is not captured anywhere else. Mark Caldwell, seen in the birthday video, makes the introduction. It was shot in one go with no editing except for one or two stops and starts between sections (stopping and then restarting the video recorder). It also features my former colleague Steve Bell (on camera one) who is in the next video too!

In January 1974, six months before the above video was made, STOIC pre-recorded an opening sequence for the then news programme TOPIC. Like the studio tour video it was shot in one go. But, regardless of the production quality it has some great shots of the (Elec Eng) TV Studio along with STOIC’s very own rotating logo, studio control room and STOIC’s RCA 2 inch quad recorder, all now long gone! Steve Bell is heard at the very start announcing the ‘take number and then seen with headphones on. You can also see a brief glimpse of STOIC’s Sony “rover” camera on a tripod in the studio.

The Electrical Engineering TV Studio as it originally looked when STOIC started in 1970, can be seen in some unique colour film. It shows the original PYE black and white vidicon cameras and studio set-up. I’m seen, blurred in long shot, operating the Ampex One Inch recorder. You can also see the crude video monitors (with me operating the film camera) and the PYE vision mixer.

And finally, some 3 years before STOIC ceased to use what, by then, had become the College TV studio, we have a rediscovered recording, shot behind the scenes. It was recorded in the Control Room on 13 June 1983 during the weekly transmission of Newsbreak. Martin Bolding is on sound and also continuity with Tim Davey on vision mixing.

Earlier I mentioned Grant Richmond who now lives in Cairns, North Queensland, Australia. He had a few comments to make when he looked back at his time studying at Imperial and his involvement with STOIC and its 50 years.

“I would say it is really impressive and reminds me of how much extra-curricular activity there was at Imperial, especially considering such a small on-campus population. My point is how remarkable STOIC was to inform (& entertain?) the student community and I would like to think, staff too. I know technology has changed so anyone with a mobile phone can capture events these days and upload to YouTube, but there is no editorial discipline and it’s probably quite hard to get attention. At least with STOIC they had no choice in the JCR at lunchtime! I am most grateful for the opportunity STOIC gave me to participate and to be able to see the record of some of these activities all these years later.”

A lot more will be found from my first two blogs featuring STOIC and in particular the “Happy Birthday to Us” video, which more or less tells the whole story of how they started, and indeed ran, until leaving the College TV studio in summer 1986. To end, I have recreated the STOIC logo that I designed and added an updated version of the jingle that has never been heard before. It was on the master tape at 15ips, which was a tape speed that we couldn’t run. Now, hopefully, the sound quality will come through at last.

And with the time just after 6:24 STOIC is now closing down……

 

Colin Grimshaw 17 February 2020 – Happy Birthday to Them

40 years ago STOIC into Colour: 1979

40 years ago, during the summer of 1979, the TV Studio slipped into colour with the purchase of a single colour camera, portable recorder and edit suite. Before that time everything we made was obviously in black and white and that included the output of the student television service STOIC. They had, at times, been ahead of the college TV studio with some technology. They were first to get a Sony portable videorecorder and associated camera. This allowed them to record items outside of the confines of the studio. When we wanted to do the same we had to move a large videorecorder and take a camera with us on a trolley.

Clearly we had to make a move to upgrade to colour and in the process replace the Ampex One Inch videotape format we’d been using for many years. We needed both colour and also the ability to electronically edit. The U-matic system from Sony was what we selected and the equipment arrived before summer 1979. During the college vacation period we made our first colour production for the Life Science Library. By the start of the autumn term in 1979 we had re-equipped the studio to work only on the U-matic system, but because we still had only the one colour camera, the main studio stayed in black and white (for some while).

A short while after we had received the colour camera, STOIC was clearly interested in also moving away from black and white. But until we moved the entire studio into colour STOIC’s type of programmes were not possible on a single colour camera. However, it was possible to include the occasional ‘single camera’ colour item within a programme. So, just before term ended for the summer of 1979 I consented to the inclusion of a colour item within one of their news programmes. James Miller, a regular on STOIC, had expressed a keen interest to be the first to be seen in colour and I agreed. We thought to do this with a fanfare. So, James linked from an item he’d pre-recorded in black and white on their own portable videorecorder, to him sitting in the studio, also in black and white. At an agreed moment I turn the system switch on the recorder to colour and James’s wish came true. I re-discovered this 40 year old item during the current digitising of STOIC tapes.

Colin Grimshaw August 2019

South Kensington Campus: 1998

Back in 2016 I posted some stock footage of the South Kensington Campus that I had shot in 1992. Here’s an updated version of that with footage shot 21 years ago in 1998. The quality will be better because it was originated on broadcast quality Betacam tape. You will see some nice views of Princes Gardens with both of the original Southside and Linstead Halls. Maybe you might even see yourself in the JCR or on the original Exhibition Road entrance and walkway? I’ve added some captions to remind you of the names of certain places along with any new names that might have come about since 1998, an example being Dalby Court.

I hope this might bring back some memories for those who were at Imperial during this time period.

Colin Grimshaw June 2019

Speaking Backwards at Christmas: 1974

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