Lolly Sticks

Another day, another video of a rather lame mock uploaded to YouTube. We’re back to 4:3 again, and a short video a did to teach myself how to use Adobe Premiere Elements:

Before I bought Premiere Elements in early 2008 I’d never done any video editing before, so it was all very new to me. I did huge a number of videos to experiment and work out a good workflow to transfer my material from Flash or Fireworks to video. I recorded my work over and over again onto the same DVD-RW and then scuttled downstairs to the television to see how the results looked on a CRT television rather than an LCD monitor. As you can see from this video, I hadn’t yet worked out things like interlacing or how to age transparencies properly.

Although the first BBC 1 globe symbol I remember from my childhood was the black and cyan version with the italic “COLOUR” lettering, the first BBC 2 symbol I remember was the striped cylindrical 2. I saw this countless times waiting for Play School on weekday mornings or Play Away – the strange oasis that appeared between boring black and white films – on Saturdays. BBC 1 and ITV were showing wall to wall sport at the time due to their regulatory obligation to provide programming for the hard of thinking. Channel Four didn’t even exist. Play School mornings were usually accompanied by a cup of Mellow Birds made with milk. Despite being Julie Steven’s favourite beverage, it never seemed to dissolve properly back then, so you’d get little brown bits on the top…

When the computer generated ==2== symbol replaced the cylinder on BBC 2, I never really took to it. The cylinder’s animation was far more interesting, so I often wondered what would have happened if the stripey cylindrical 2 had been kept but updated. The end result, my “lolly sticks” symbol was created in Swift 3D. The animation does a very similar thing to the cylinder – the coloured stripes rotate in opposite directions – but to make it more interesting the camera does a 270 degree trip around the stripes as they do so.

Swift 3D – click to enlarge

One interesting thing about the lolly sticks symbol is that I created it at 400 x 300 in Swift 3D. As I was exporting it in vector format as a .swf it didn’t matter what size it was so long as the aspect ratio was 4:3. Vector 3D is something that Swift 3D really excels at, although it’s very good at raster 3D as well. After more experimentation I’d later scrub this approach in favour of working at 720 x 576 and correcting in advance in Swift 3D itself for non-square PAL pixels.

Thin hairline 2 in Flash

To get the striped 2 into Swift 3D in the first place, I drew it in Macromedia Flash 8. I drew it as a series of hairlines, and then turned the hairlines into thick rounded strokes.

 Exactly the same graphic, stroked in Inkscape

After doing this, I turned the strokes into fills, and exported the resulting graphic as an Adobe Illustrator file for importing into Swift 3D.

GNAT Flash – Click to Enlarge

The clock is my Macromedia Flash 8 version of BBC Engineer Richard Russell’s computer originated GNAT (Generator, Network Analogue Time) clocks. The GNATs were used by BBC 1 and BBC 2 throughout the 1980s. There was even a rather nice yellow and blue Open University version for a few years. You can download a screensaver created using the final version of the GNAT software from Richard’s site. Richard has also written an article that discusses the history of the GNAT.

Teacher’s discipline problem #5435 – POW!!!!!!!!

The schools dots is again another one of my Flash 8 concoctions. This is the second version, where I finally got the font right! This, along with the clock, is the sort of animation that’s very easy to do in Actionscript, but a real pain to produce a version you can export to use in video projects.

Henry Woolf was even better with Charlie than with Pinter

The slide was based on a BBC1 version I did around ten years ago now for the sadly soon to be defunct BBC Cult website. I simply traced a screen capture in Flash that the BBC supplied to me from the opening titles of the programme “Words and Pictures”.

My treatment of the slide was very unsatisfactory – both in terms of the fading and blurring I used and the very bad banding that appears on the image. It looks very fake indeed, and one day I must get round to writing a post about how I would have gone about doing that job properly.

Just a note about the font – when I’m doing 70s stuff that requires Helvetica I tend to use URW++ Nimbus Sans these days. I’ll explain why in a post about Thames Television some other time.

The music is from one of my favourite programmes – 4Square – and was composed by Ian McKim. The music was designed as a tension bed underneath a computer generated (Acorn Archimedes) maze game and made for a very exciting minute of television.

Anyway, technically a rather unaccomplished little video of another lame mock. But it brings back lot of memories and I enjoy watching it from time to time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *