The Newsroom

BBC World (News) - 2000-2003 Idents

A General Query

MA
Markymark Meridian (Thames Valley) South Today
Here's a 1FM leaflet promoting, amongst other things, the transfer of oldies to DAT, 'guaranteed scratch and crackle free'.

I know MD was used in the old Radio 1 studios at Yalding House, mainly because Moyles used to complain about the players from time to time.





Very interesting. DAT had similar table of contents and track facilities as CD and MD, the huge drawback over the disc based formats was you could only spool through the tape in an (obviously) linear fashion, which made it totally unsuitable for 'DJ' style radio. I wonder how they used DAT tapes in their workflow. Fine for playing out long form programmes, but hopeless for jingles and <modern word> songs?
Last edited by Markymark on 26 November 2020 6:01pm
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Avatar credit: © BBC, ITA, BREMA 1967
IS
Inspector Sands
From what I can gather, DAT was quite common in the 1990s in terms of storing music and assorted audio. So, for instance, composers would send theme music on DAT and broadcasters would use it for a variety non-TX purposes (e.g. recording voiceovers, making copies of talkback, output etc.). Having spoken to an ex-sound mixer about DATs, he said that they weren't generally used for TX because there was a slight delay between hitting 'play' and the DAT outputting sound.

The main reason was because it was a linear format rather than CD or MD which could provide instant, or near instant access.

The reason why it was used for music production was because it was digital and uncompressed, the only other format that could so that was CD, but that's not great for recording onto, especially multi session. It was the replacement for 1/4 inch tape. However those those reasons were also the reason it didn't take off domestically - it was too good in terms of making copies, the record industry didn't like it in the hands of their customers!

I'm pretty sure that DAT was used until fairly recently for playout of pre-recorded programmes on BBC Radio for example those on Radio 4
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deejay Oxford
Thanks deejay, that's really insightful.

In terms of World Pres, I know you've said that idents and (I think) breakfillers were played from laserdisc - but what about during a breakdown? Did you have music on minidisc that was ready for such an event?

Also, can you remember why in 2001 they decided to replace the 10-second countdown + ident with a 60-second countdown instead?


The original ABF kit (White flags background, black text) was kept for the 2000 rebrand (red backgrounds, white text) and was in use until it was replaced by the black/orange dynamic junction. That ABF was a Mac, a laserdisc player and the data came from teletext.

During breakdowns (which were quite uncommon) world had a static generic slide available on Picturebox, but it was only a single output Picturebox in World TX and it’s usual role was to provide the backing for the Aston coming up menu - so usually a menu was aired in breakdowns instead of a traditional breakdown slide. There was a second minidisc player which had some generic music on it (I think it was the breakfiller music).

The original countdown in the 2000 rebrand was a 10-zero countdown followed by the Ident because it was still played from laserdisc at the time and the automation wasn’t capable of preroll it a 60” countdown at a predefined time. Also marketing still wanted a top of the hour announcement into the news I seem to recall. When the gear in the suite was upgraded (Odetics tape based playout and laserdisc were both replaced with profile server) it became possible to have a single profile output running standalone from the automation with a properly backtimed countdown to the top of the hour. For the rest of each hour, this same channel went to an animating breakdown slide plus music comped on it. I can’t remember when that might have been but sometime after the 2000 rebrand and 2003. It may also have been around the time a separate playout stream for Europe was installed and it ran alongside the main stream from the one suite.

And yes, the world pres suite at tv centre was pretty old fashioned by the time it came off air in 2004! I have a photo of it somewhere. I’ll see if I can upload to metropol and link it in here.
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IT
itsrobert Founding member Granada North West Today
Thanks deejay, that's really insightful.

In terms of World Pres, I know you've said that idents and (I think) breakfillers were played from laserdisc - but what about during a breakdown? Did you have music on minidisc that was ready for such an event?

Also, can you remember why in 2001 they decided to replace the 10-second countdown + ident with a 60-second countdown instead?


The original ABF kit (White flags background, black text) was kept for the 2000 rebrand (red backgrounds, white text) and was in use until it was replaced by the black/orange dynamic junction. That ABF was a Mac, a laserdisc player and the data came from teletext.

During breakdowns (which were quite uncommon) world had a static generic slide available on Picturebox, but it was only a single output Picturebox in World TX and it’s usual role was to provide the backing for the Aston coming up menu - so usually a menu was aired in breakdowns instead of a traditional breakdown slide. There was a second minidisc player which had some generic music on it (I think it was the breakfiller music).

The original countdown in the 2000 rebrand was a 10-zero countdown followed by the Ident because it was still played from laserdisc at the time and the automation wasn’t capable of preroll it a 60” countdown at a predefined time. Also marketing still wanted a top of the hour announcement into the news I seem to recall. When the gear in the suite was upgraded (Odetics tape based playout and laserdisc were both replaced with profile server) it became possible to have a single profile output running standalone from the automation with a properly backtimed countdown to the top of the hour. For the rest of each hour, this same channel went to an animating breakdown slide plus music comped on it. I can’t remember when that might have been but sometime after the 2000 rebrand and 2003. It may also have been around the time a separate playout stream for Europe was installed and it ran alongside the main stream from the one suite.

And yes, the world pres suite at tv centre was pretty old fashioned by the time it came off air in 2004! I have a photo of it somewhere. I’ll see if I can upload to metropol and link it in here.

Thanks deejay - absolutely fascinating! This was by far my favourite era of BBC World branding and presentation, so it's interesting to hear how it was all put together behind the scenes.

I think I can help with when the 10" countdown was replaced with 60". I think it was in about October 2001 give or take. That first 60" version visually lasted until the December 2003 rebrand but the music was updated in April 2002. Initially it used the News 24 countdown music when it was first introduced.

I know this is a long time ago now, but how were weather forecasts played out on BBC World back then? Were they played by Pres or from somewhere else? What about the weather ident that bookended the forecasts?
DE
deejay Oxford
Everything that wasn’t live from the news studio was played from World pres, usually from BetaSP tape. There were 6 standalone VTRs for programmes, loaded manually by the director. These played out all the programmes ans weather forecasts. 4 were 5” preroll, 2 were 1” preroll for “instant starts” after live programmes. Weather forecasts were delivered a few times a day, on Beta, by the forecasted themselves, and these were usually run from one of the instant start machines. There were another 6 VTRs in the Odetics, which was a huge jukebox type machine with each tape barcoded, held in rows and fetched on demand by robotic arm with a barcode reader on it. The Odetics was in a different room around the corner. I think the weather sting came from laserdisc, which was also 1” preroll.
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AaronLancs Granada North West Today
Well, I also seem to remember and from analysing the stuff on my computer there seems to be the point of the remixed countdown music for 2002 starting at 62 seconds on the BBC News 24 90 second countdown.
DE
deejay Oxford
Some photos I have found from the time. I think it’s probably safe to share these now! Bear in mind these photos were taken in around 2003.

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This is the BBC World pres suite after the Europe stream had been added and after the installation of profile server to replace the Odetics. The fourth screen along very top row of monitors is labelled Loop and that was the line which played the breakdown loop every hour, and the countdown to the top of the hour. Next along is LD1 which we obviously kept for the Ident into other programmes. The larger screens in the middle of the photo are (left to right) Schedule display, preset (next item), TX Out, preview (showing the picture box/Aston comp menu) and Europe TX Out.

Here is the Aston, used right up until 2004. It’s an Aston Caption 3 and used (I think) 7” floppy discs!
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And finally the stack of VTRs for programme and weather playout. There were evidently 5 of these and 5 in the Odetics. I misremembered 6!

*

The programmes for the day and the next day were delivered and put on the bottom two shelves. The large tapes on the top shelves were standbys, fillers and emergency tapes.

It sometimes doesn’t seem that long ago, but it looks very old hat now!
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AaronLancs Granada North West Today
Sorry to a be a pain again, but what was the minutiae of how the breakfillers (c.2001) were done? As watching back through YT vids they looked oh so smooth.
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deejay Oxford
At a minute to each break the ABF (Automatic Breakfiller) was cued up. It was a Macintosh computer connected to a laserdisc player. This was before there was much of an internet to speak of (although it did exist and there was a BBC website I don’t think there was much of a BBC Worldwide website, nor was there much content on it.). Anyway all the data for the breakfiller was collected from BBC World teletext.

There were several break durations, from 1’00 to 3’00 (possibly 3’30”? Can’t remember) and each break was divided into 30” segments. The commonest 1’ break was 30” of news headlines and a 30” coming up menu. There were a selection of break segments available so if there was a late schedule change that hadn’t got on teletext yet, the director could usually choose a break of an appropriate duration without the Coming Up segment. From memory the segments were News, Sport, Business, Coming Up and (the very rarely seen) Weather.

It worked really well but took a while to cue, and we used to tell news it needed a minutes warning to a break. When it was cued, a white line would appear on the preview monitor. If you didn’t get that, or you were late standing it by, you’d better hope your Aston menu was up to date!!

Here is the 1997 ABF in action


And a later one from 2001
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AaronLancs Granada North West Today
Thanks, just that it looks oh so smooth yet could mess up at a moments notice.
DE
deejay Oxford
It really didn’t go wrong very often at all. There were times where we’d have to cover certain bits of it if it became out of date or was wrong in some way, and if you were on the ball you could time this so you mixed to the Coming Up menu and leave the music running just as the text from the ABF had mixed off. The other trick you could do (if the ABF wasn’t working at all) was take the whole break from laserdisc and key the menu from Aston manually over the top. In the flags era, there were several different blank fluttering flag backgrounds for 3 minutes on the laserdisc that were very infrequently used (I said up-thread somewhere that the usual menu was a static background from picture box and Aston text over the top.). Not done often, usually during special coverage of a rolling story.
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AndrewPSSP, Jimmyson and bilky asko gave kudos
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harshy Founding member
Weird the coming up breakdown menu iirc was centre aligned your pictures deejay suggest it wasn’t Smile

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