Tag: STOIC

90 down & more to go!

Well, I’ve now worked my way through 90 videotapes that have been digitised. That’s 90 more occasions where I might find something very interesting or have something of historical significance to Imperial College. As you might well know, I’m doing all of this from home since I retired early, some 13 years ago. It can, at times, be a long process to capture content from even just a single videotape. Sticky-shed, as previously discussed, can make it impossible to play a tape back without heat treatment. But once completed (which can take a full day) a videotape might yield some interesting discoveries. Also, as discussed many times, the archive of STOIC is providing some incredible material with both interviews and also their coverage of college events. A recent discovery being that very short clip of Nobel Prize winner Abdus Salam in the Great Hall. I have also discovered a fascinating interview with previous College Secretary John Smith talking about his time as Governor of the Gilbert Islands. I’ll add this new video to my previous blog about him.

During the final few transfers, I found a very early clip of Pallab Ghosh who was standing for Felix Editor. My previous blog post included his 1981 interview about Wells Soc, but that was shot in black and white. This 1983 interview is in colour and is about him standing for Felix editor (which he became), it includes his election speech during the Hustings. He is now Science Correspondent for BBC News.

Simon Singh was elected as RCS President back in March 1983. He came into the TV Studio along with the rest of the executive and we now have those interviews digitised. He has gone on to be an author of many books and has presented several science TV programmes, so maybe his visits to our TV Studio helped him along that route. He was awarded an MBE in 2003.

 

Colin Grimshaw May 2024

DramSoc – Macbeth Interview: 1978

Today we dive back to 1978 for a Lunckbreak programme that featured an interview with DramSoc about their production of Macbeth. Mark Foley was the Lunchbreak presenter and he was talking to Mark Wiszowaty who was taking on the role of Macbeth. I was hoping to find some photos of the production in Felix, but this is the archive period of missing Felix editions between 1977 & 1978.

Colin Grimshaw March 2024

Archive on the move: 2024

I started the Imperial College Videotape Archive (not this Blog) way back in August 1979. This was when we had just moved over into colour, and also recording on the U-Matic videotape format. Since that time many hundreds of recordings, and therefore videotapes, have been collected into what is now the archive. This archive is not to be confused with the videotape archive of STOIC, these archives are not the same thing. Some early recordings can be seen in the photo over on the right, these are from early 1985 and includes the City & Guilds Centenary Week on 1089A.

When it all started it was the archive of the Imperial College TV Studio, that changed into Media Services and finally Communications, which was the custodian of the collection until this month. In the first week of 2024 the entire videotape archive was boxed-up and is now ready to be shipped off, and into the hands of the college’s main Archive. This is also where STOIC’s archive is also maintained having been saved from (unbelievably) being put into a skip.

It was not a quick job either; along with Martin Sayers, it took over 6 hours to carefully pack the tapes, make a note of which tapes are now in each box and also mark production numbers on the front of the boxes. This way we will know where to find any particular tape in the future. In the photo over on the right, we had only just started to sort out and then pack the videotapes which we had removed from the shelves. In box number 2 for example you can see production numbers 1027 (September 1981) to 1045. These are all in the U-Matic format but we moved, over time, to Betacam and then DVCam, but there are a few other formats mixed in.

So it’s finally goodbye to a large part of my life which is wrapped up in many different videotapes. Also, it’s a very large part of the life of Imperial College and its history. Captured on those videotapes are many things that I’ve featured in this blog: Linear Motors, Electrochromic Displays, the World’s First Calculator on a computer, the Centenary year of City & Guilds in 1985, the Imperial College Centenary in 2007, Rectors of Imperial College from Lord Penney onwards and many views of the campuses and departments that have changed forever. I also instigated the first ever recording of a Commemoration Day at the Royal Albert Hall. Following that, Martin and I recorded every Commemoration Day and Post Graduate Awards ceremony. These started to be made available on VHS tape, then DVD and finally put onto YouTube. Martin now carries this on with live YouTube steaming of the events.

Farewell, it’s been (and still is) nice rewinding you…

Colin Grimshaw January 2024

Prof. Eric Laithwaite’s Lab: c1973

While going through some of the 8mm films that STOIC shot, I found this. It was part of a reel of items that included the 1973 Pan Cake Race which I featured in a previous post. Therefore I am assuming that this footage was also shot in 1973. It’s various demonstrations taking place in the lab of Professor Eric Laithwaite, who has featured many times before (and will again, I’m sure). The demonstrations are by one of his research students, whose name currently escapes me.

Firstly, but of out focus, is his office door name plate from down on level one of Electrical Engineering. Interestingly, we see some of the copper windings being installed on a levitator (might even be the ‘magnetic river‘ under construction?). I don’t recall any other photos or film of this being carried out, so this is maybe unique. Then we see the levitation of an aluminium plate, which is followed by the model train which he used very regularly in presentations. Finally we see the research student talking to some other students, but I don’t recognise them as being from STOIC. I’m not sure that the models we see in the film were actually featured in the 1974 Christmas Lectures, which would have helped me date this footage. However, it is just possible that the motor having the windings added was in Christmas Lectures programme 5.

I’ve just reviewed that lecture number 5 (around 53min into the lecture) and I’m now very sure that this is indeed the motor we see being constructed in his lab. So a date of 1973 would seem to work.

Colin Grimshaw January 2024

RCS Spanner & Bolt Raid 1976

Today we have an extract from one of the oldest recordings from STOIC’s news programme. On the 15th December 1976 Clive Lewis and James Sinclair were both presenting the Christmas edition of Lunchbreak. Who could want a better news story for Christmas than a mascotry raid. There was a front page splash about it in FELIX the following day, so STOIC seemed to have got the news, and also the interviews, pretty fast. Now, this was shot a few days before Christmas and I think the various constituent college union members should have been kept away from the balloons…as you’ll see! James Sinclair is attempting to hold things together though.

This is very much a deteriorating archive recording so please bear with it because it’s 47 years old and I had a major problem getting the tape to play back.

Colin Grimshaw December 2023

 

Felix Editor Election: 1975

Mark Caldwell filming at Elstree Studios in September 1975

Today we go back to 1975 and a fragment of college history captured in the archive of STOIC. Very few items remain from this time period because of the very high cost of videotape. Programmes were recorded over the following week with a new programme, so we’re lucky that this survives today. On the 26 February 1975 Mark Caldwell was presenting the weekly news programme Lunchbreak in which the candidates for the post of Felix editor came into the TV Studio. Clive Dewey and Paul Ekpenyong were standing and also attending was Mike Williams, the then current editor. From Felix 7 March 1975 the results were 440 for Clive Dewey and 527 for Paul Ekpenyong who was declared the next editor for 1975/1976.

At 7mins 20secs into the video you will also hear something very rare indeed. The college bells on the top of Mechanical Engineering chiming 6pm. We must have had the windows open in the studio which was then located on level 3 of Electrical Engineering facing where the bells were. So not only do we know the date, but also the time of this recording, that’s unique.

Colin Grimshaw August 2023

STOIC Videotape Archive: 1979

Recently I had an email from STOIC’s first full-time videotape archivist (1980-1981) Colin Jenkins. The email reminded me of the huge contribution that the card index has made to college history, through videotape recordings. Sadly this is a fact that college does not appreciate or make use of and hence why this blog is maintained to showcase this valuable resource.

Initially, and only for about ten videotapes, the indexing was started using the facilities of the college computer centre. Details were outputted on computer lined paper as can be seen in this photo. This printout then had to be cut and stuck inside the videotape box and also onto the actual videotape. I never was happy with this idea of sticking the printout onto the actual tapes in case they came off whilst inside the tape machine! The problem was that only the person who had created this computer account (and routine) could access the index. It soon became very clear that this was simply not possible to maintain as students came and went from college and their computer accounts were closed! A simple system was needed that could be accessed within the studio that didn’t require a computer centre account or terminal to be able to log on.

So, what could be more simple than the good old card index. Initially, using a single draw card index file, the new system was started by Colin Jenkins, simply known to us all as CJ. The new way of indexing and archiving was changed at the beginning of recordings being made on the U-matic tape system (Autumn term 1979). This itself is interesting because up until then videotapes were recorded over each week and therefore previous programmes were lost for ever. This was due to of the high cost of videotapes. U-matics were a lot cheaper to buy and an increased budget allowed STOIC to start keeping, and thus archiving, all programmes made. It also meant less potential wear on the tape machines when using the same tapes over and over again each week.

I have now completed a simple backup of the entire card index by scanning every card into a PDF file. It would be desirable to collate these into something like an Excel or Word file, but that isn’t really necessary for this use – keep it simple. Because the indexing was now maintained within the file system draws, a way was still needed to present data within the actual tape box (as in the original computer printout idea). I suggested that the programme running orders, that were used for each programme, be held within each tape box.

The programme running orders are now as valuable as the index in finding what was recorded onto the tape. Even last minute changes were written by hand and most of the basic information then added to either current or new index cards. The card index was never created to hold all of the information that can be found on the running orders. I’m pleased to say that even after CJ had left Imperial, the index continued. STOIC left the college TV studio after the end of term in 1986. From the index I can see that a few entries were made in 1987 but then things stopped. Therefore no record exists of programmes after that time and it will be a task to decipher content when running those tapes that exist from that period.

One final point is that some videotapes were kept prior to 1979. These video recordings were made on the Ampex Type A one-inch format and were also added to the card index. So technically we can go back to February 1970 when STOIC’s first news programme was made and the actual videotape was kept and added to the collection.

Colin Grimshaw July 2023

Tiddlywinks: 1982

The first Tiddlywinks covered by STOIC was back in 1979 and that happened most years. This 41 year old report from October 1982 was different because it took place on the Kings Road, Chelsea and not the usual Oxford Street. Apparently, various warnings from the police had put Oxford Street off limits this particular year. Although the card index doesn’t indicate it, I think that this was also the first time that Tiddlywinks was covered in colour.

Donal Quigley took the camera crew into the depth of Chelsea on what looks like a rather damp and gloomy day. There’s also a half page coverage (P3) of the event in FELIX.

Colin Grimshaw July 2024

Weather at Imperial: 1983

Back in 2019 I wrote a blog about the weather forecast that STOIC gave during their weekly transmissions. What we now have is the news report that was in the programme that proceeded the forecast that Mike Prosser presented. The news programme was recorded the day before, so the weather was given live during the continuity announcement at the end of their news programme.

Atmospheric Physics was where the whole thing happened and STOIC’s Martin Bolding went over there to report on how it was all done.

Colin Grimshaw April 2023

Prof Eric Laithwaite-Book Interview: 1980

Sitting on a videotape for 43 years was an interview with Professor Eric Laithwaite. In April 1980, Graeme Shaw from STOIC spoke to him on the launch of his book The Engineer Through the Looking Glass. The book was based on the 1974 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures of the same name. Back in 2014 I wrote about that series in one of my blog posts.

It was by chance that I realised that this interview had not yet been copied from videotape. It’s one of only a few interviews that we have with Eric Laithwaite. This was of particular interest to me because I was personally involved with programme number three called ‘Jam Tomorrow and Jam Yesterday’ in the 1974 TV series. I also got a credit in the book “…Colin appeared ‘officially’ in the third lecture taking over part of the lecture in effect…” So you can see why I was excited to re-discover this particular interview. I also suspect that I probably would have made the arrangements for this interview to take place.

Colin Grimshaw March 2023