Mass Media & Technology

Can you tell me more about this ITVident?

This site closed in March 2021 and is now a read-only archive
JA
Jalium
I rediscovered this ITV ident from 1987 recently. It's a rotating colour computer image which is incredibly sophisticated for its date and I hoped somebody would be able to tell me more about its creation.

I believe it was designed by Jim Stockoe, then Head of Graphics & Presentation at Central Television. As for who it was who did the rendering though, all I can find is "An outside graphics house, based in London, carried out the actual animation and production work"

Can anybody tell me which animator or which animation house or which system was used in its creation? Thank you.


NJ
Neil Jones Founding member
Strictly speaking that's not an ITV ident. That's when ITV moved all their schools programming to Channel 4 to free up the daytime hours for a proper schedule. I believe that was only ever seen on Channel 4 as presentation (maybe occasionally on ITV as a trailer), but certain individuals on YouTube (mentioning no names) like to "mock" things up that imply that logo was used in places where it didn't belong't, but we won't go there.

Not uncommon to farm these CGI creations out in the 1980s, as computers were expensive to buy and if you can get a company to use their computers they've already bought and you just pay for the work, that's obviously significantly cheaper. Bit like if your local council today farms the bin collections out to Serco or whoever. Just pay Serco a wad of money and they'll do all the legwork.

I don't know who specifically "did" the ITV schools animations, but I believe (on a related presentation point) the animations for Channel 4's original package were done in the US.
Mort and Alfie Mulcahy gave kudos
JA
Jalium
Yes, thank you. I am quite aware of the fact the Channel 4 "blocks" logo was rendered by Bo Gehring & Associates in Los Angeles.

*

That isn't really what I want to know. I would really *only* like to know some specifics about the ITV logo, ident, whatever you want to call it, appearing in the rotating animation in the OP, thanks. Ideally the specific computer system used to render it and/or the bureau who it was rendered by, with a link to a source if possible, but if not, then anything that could lead me to a source would be great. Thanks.
Last edited by Jalium on 17 January 2021 1:18am - 2 times in total
HC
Hatton Cross

"An outside graphics house, based in London, carried out the actual animation and production work"

The two biggest graphics/post prod companies in Soho at the time were Molinaire or The Moving Picture Company.
BH
BillyH Founding member
There used to be a website that went into great deal about the animation, Schoolstv.com I think. Not sure if it’s still online but Web Archive might have a copy.
SC
Si-Co
There used to be a website that went into great deal about the animation, Schoolstv.com I think. Not sure if it’s still online but Web Archive might have a copy.


ISTR reading (probably on the schoolstv site, that Central were responsible for the ITV Schools roto and clock sequence, but I don’t know if it was produced in-house. Central were producing impressive idents of their own in that era so it wouldn’t surprise me if the same team were involved.
IT
IndigoTucker
All the information you specifially want was on schoolstv, operated by James Hudson
B.Eng(Hons) MIEE ,which was later merged into TV ARK.
"ITV Schools was scheduled to move onto Channel 4 on September 14th 1987. It became Jim Stokoe's task to co-ordinate the move. Jim Stokoe designed all of the actual ITV Schools animations at Central Television, Birmingham, England. Working with Marc Ortmans (then at Channel 4, but now co-owner of a Graphics company), Dean Stockton (then Channel 4 and was Director of Programming for OnDigital) who were involved with the initial acceptance, but the animated sequences were designed by Jim Stokoe and Jim Chalmers at Central Television (now Carlton).

Jim recalls: "I edited the animated pieces so that there were various forms and lengths with a seamless transition (very hard to do in those days). The ITV Schools clock had to adhere to all the rules and regulations of ITV and ITC as well as gain approval from Channel 4. Remember, this was the only 'clock' that was "legitimately" shown as a countdown before programmes - believe it or not some companies had a station clock which simply told the time. Obviously, the music had to match the countdown speed."

Further research has shown that it was highly likely that Jim Stokoe and his team used graphics workstations of the time. Final development, according to Jim, was in a small room in the "depths of Soho" (London). Wire meshes were used in design and preview with the materials and textures added later. Those being Silver with the front bevel using cyclic colour scrolling created separately. Detailed information about the design i.e. system, software and company who created it are featured in the CGI Design section within the menu.
The animation started as some sketches in storyboard format. The paper came to life in the digital world in the form of the ITV Schools 3D Holding Device incorporating the clock too. Jim Stokoe and Jim Chalmers took their storyboard to a graphics facility company in Soho, London. The facility company was called Electric Image and they created the animation.
Electric Image produced the actual animations under the supervision of concept designer Jim Stokoe. Electric Image utilised the "in" system of the time for broadcast animations. The system the animations were created on was a Symbolics LISP unit. The Symbolics LISP system tended to do all the rendering calculations in microchips as opposed to Software rendering we see today.

Supplied with the system was of course the neccessary software. Jim and his crew used S-Geometry to create the 3D world the animations reside in. S-Render was the animation engine used to render the materials and final design. This system cost around £50 000 and was a beast! "I did do a copy of it [animations] at the time for our company DFG to prove how this then low cost machine could compete with the pricey workstations," says Ciaran Devine. Ciaran worked in another company in the same locale and it was the talk of the Soho graphics community at the time. Ciaran also co-produced the graphics for the Children's ITV series, Knightmare.

Jim Stokoe also said they used another piece of software called Dubner, which was new to Electric Image. Dubner was a dedicated computer graphics system and is now part of Discreet (who make 3D Studio Max®). This was a system for compositing and frame painting, which is known in the industry as Rotoscoping. Central Television did not have an in-house Symbolics system until after the animations were produced.

And here's a little thing you probably don't know. The animated 3D Central Television 'cake' logo from the late 1980s was created on a Symbolics LISP CGI station. Incidentally, there was a short lived publication in the late 1980s that, not surprisingly, was called Computer Images. I believe the ITV Schools animations were a possible feature in it. I'm actively trying to locate a copy of this former magazine. Get in touch with schoolsTV.com if you have copies and / or back issues.


"
Last edited by IndigoTucker on 18 January 2021 11:57am - 2 times in total
JA
Jalium
All the information you specifially want was on schoolstv, operated by James Hudson
B.Eng(Hons) MIEE ,which was later merged into TV ARK.
"ITV Schools was scheduled to move onto Channel 4 on September 14th 1987. It became Jim Stokoe's task to co-ordinate the move. Jim Stokoe designed all of the actual ITV Schools animations at Central Television, Birmingham, England. Working with Marc Ortmans (then at Channel 4, but now co-owner of a Graphics company), Dean Stockton (then Channel 4 and was Director of Programming for OnDigital) who were involved with the initial acceptance, but the animated sequences were designed by Jim Stokoe and Jim Chalmers at Central Television (now Carlton).

Jim recalls: "I edited the animated pieces so that there were various forms and lengths with a seamless transition (very hard to do in those days). The ITV Schools clock had to adhere to all the rules and regulations of ITV and ITC as well as gain approval from Channel 4. Remember, this was the only 'clock' that was "legitimately" shown as a countdown before programmes - believe it or not some companies had a station clock which simply told the time. Obviously, the music had to match the countdown speed."

Further research has shown that it was highly likely that Jim Stokoe and his team used graphics workstations of the time. Final development, according to Jim, was in a small room in the "depths of Soho" (London). Wire meshes were used in design and preview with the materials and textures added later. Those being Silver with the front bevel using cyclic colour scrolling created separately. Detailed information about the design i.e. system, software and company who created it are featured in the CGI Design section within the menu.
The animation started as some sketches in storyboard format. The paper came to life in the digital world in the form of the ITV Schools 3D Holding Device incorporating the clock too. Jim Stokoe and Jim Chalmers took their storyboard to a graphics facility company in Soho, London. The facility company was called Electric Image and they created the animation.
Electric Image produced the actual animations under the supervision of concept designer Jim Stokoe. Electric Image utilised the "in" system of the time for broadcast animations. The system the animations were created on was a Symbolics LISP unit. The Symbolics LISP system tended to do all the rendering calculations in microchips as opposed to Software rendering we see today.

Supplied with the system was of course the neccessary software. Jim and his crew used S-Geometry to create the 3D world the animations reside in. S-Render was the animation engine used to render the materials and final design. This system cost around £50 000 and was a beast! "I did do a copy of it [animations] at the time for our company DFG to prove how this then low cost machine could compete with the pricey workstations," says Ciaran Devine. Ciaran worked in another company in the same locale and it was the talk of the Soho graphics community at the time. Ciaran also co-produced the graphics for the Children's ITV series, Knightmare.

Jim Stokoe also said they used another piece of software called Dubner, which was new to Electric Image. Dubner was a dedicated computer graphics system and is now part of Discreet (who make 3D Studio Max®). This was a system for compositing and frame painting, which is known in the industry as Rotoscoping. Central Television did not have an in-house Symbolics system until after the animations were produced.

And here's a little thing you probably don't know. The animated 3D Central Television 'cake' logo from the late 1980s was created on a Symbolics LISP CGI station. Incidentally, there was a short lived publication in the late 1980s that, not surprisingly, was called Computer Images. I believe the ITV Schools animations were a possible feature in it. I'm actively trying to locate a copy of this former magazine. Get in touch with schoolsTV.com if you have copies and / or back issues.


"


You're right, I didn't know that. I was previously aware of the Symbolics LISP machines, and S-Render, but not their use in those projects.

That is very thorough, thank you.

I haven't been able to locate the schoolstv site. Would you be able to provide a link please?
MI
Michael
Can't have been hard to adapt the animation to an S4C logo which has a more subtle light gradient effect than the unicorn vomit on the original.

Slight differences in the style and smoothness of the animation too, although the apparently notorious out-of-sync Just A Minute seems fine here.

Bonus BBC Cymru dragon ribbons ident which itself was futuristic-looking for the time.

BH
BillyH Founding member
I haven't been able to locate the schoolstv site. Would you be able to provide a link please?


There's a bit of it on Web Archive from the final incarnation of the site in 2007, just before it was (apparently?) integrated into TV Ark but I can't see any evidence of that on the current site:
https://web.archive.org/web/20070706195104/http://www.schoolstv.com/itvschoolson4_history.shtml?1

I often forget just how plentiful the "golden age" of presentation websites was (1996 to whenever YouTube got popular) as there was some fascinating stuff around, much of which sadly long gone now.
AM
Alfie Mulcahy
Yes, thank you. I am quite aware of the fact the Channel 4 "blocks" logo was rendered by Bo Gehring & Associates in Los Angeles.


This seems like an overly aggressive response to someone genuinely trying to help you.
JA
Jalium
Yes, thank you. I am quite aware of the fact the Channel 4 "blocks" logo was rendered by Bo Gehring & Associates in Los Angeles.


This seems like an overly aggressive response to someone genuinely trying to help you.



Really? And how is your response trying to help?

It's a serious question, for a serious project, documenting computer graphics landmarks.

The question is "Who made this ITV logo, and (more importantly) with what?"

I've been studying computer graphics since the 1970s.

I had hoped this would be the best possible group to ask a specific historical question and get a direct answer. I'm just not interested random people just guessing at how the Channel 4 logo was made, especially when that guess comes from somebody who doesn't know, and it wasn't the subject.

I want an answer to the question I asked: Who, and on what system, was the logo in the animation presented rendered by. Also, I don't agree with his contention it isn't an ident, but I'm not interested in debating it. Thankfully IndigoTucker has been extremely helpful.
Last edited by Jalium on 22 January 2021 12:00pm

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