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1990 on BBC Four

NG
noggin Founding member

I'm only casually following this thread on occasion, but was interested in your comment. Do you have the link to it (again?). We had a Quantel Cypher and whilst it was a very clever piece of kit I don't recall it could actually manipulate the 'shape' of graphics so you've peaked my interest.

I had previously noted a cypher operator credit on the programme credits so don't doubt it's use.


The Cypher Op had designed the trajectory and position paths of the letters and words so that it made shapes - rather than the letterforms of the text being altered.

The Cypher was effectively leveraging the processing designed for Mirage - but with only one of the four processing cards ISTR. Each on-screen character was effectively a 2D video key and fill element in a frame store that was allocated a 'DVE' tile of its own - so could be positioned, and moved anywhere independently of any other character. It could also have feedback of its own (hence the trail effects etc.).

Really neat way of creating a new product using tech developed already. Of course an operator user interface more suitable for CG use - and without the requirement for coding in Pascal that Mirage required- was also needed.

This is all a very dim recollection though... ISTR that NBC Sports were very big users of Cypher (and had a big cheque book) - and at times had an NBC employee permanently based at Quantel in Newbury working on new functionality.

(Talking of 'shapes' - Quantel's Mirage was often used for basic 'Computer graphics' as it was easier/cheaper to design a shape within the Mirage 3D DVE and 'paint it' with a 2D video frame, than it was to design a similar 'computer graphic' in a real 3D CGI system. Plus the Mirage effect was realtime - and needed no offline rendering...

A lot of the planets in Star Trek : The Next Generation were 2D textures wrapped onto a Quantel sphere effect to create a globe. You could create them very quickly with a Paintbox and a Mirage in an online edit suite.


Cypher was based/housed in/on the Quantel Encore crate rather than Mirage. But I dare say it shared a fair bit of the principles. Someone asked me recently if I could get my hands on the operator panel as they wanted it for old times sake as a momento - but it had flown off into a skip a long long time ago.


That would make sense - though I think the processing was more Mirage-y - as I don't think Encore had tile-based moves (just a single flat 2D surface)? Maybe it was an Encore processor card after all...

ISTR that the Cypher control panel had a trackball, like Encore. (The Encore panel had a yellow trackball and was known as 'a fried egg' controller ISTR)
BL
bluecortina

The Cypher Op had designed the trajectory and position paths of the letters and words so that it made shapes - rather than the letterforms of the text being altered.

The Cypher was effectively leveraging the processing designed for Mirage - but with only one of the four processing cards ISTR. Each on-screen character was effectively a 2D video key and fill element in a frame store that was allocated a 'DVE' tile of its own - so could be positioned, and moved anywhere independently of any other character. It could also have feedback of its own (hence the trail effects etc.).

Really neat way of creating a new product using tech developed already. Of course an operator user interface more suitable for CG use - and without the requirement for coding in Pascal that Mirage required- was also needed.

This is all a very dim recollection though... ISTR that NBC Sports were very big users of Cypher (and had a big cheque book) - and at times had an NBC employee permanently based at Quantel in Newbury working on new functionality.

(Talking of 'shapes' - Quantel's Mirage was often used for basic 'Computer graphics' as it was easier/cheaper to design a shape within the Mirage 3D DVE and 'paint it' with a 2D video frame, than it was to design a similar 'computer graphic' in a real 3D CGI system. Plus the Mirage effect was realtime - and needed no offline rendering...

A lot of the planets in Star Trek : The Next Generation were 2D textures wrapped onto a Quantel sphere effect to create a globe. You could create them very quickly with a Paintbox and a Mirage in an online edit suite.


Cypher was based/housed in/on the Quantel Encore crate rather than Mirage. But I dare say it shared a fair bit of the principles. Someone asked me recently if I could get my hands on the operator panel as they wanted it for old times sake as a momento - but it had flown off into a skip a long long time ago.


That would make sense - though I think the processing was more Mirage-y - as I don't think Encore had tile-based moves (just a single flat 2D surface)? Maybe it was an Encore processor card after all...

ISTR that the Cypher control panel had a trackball, like Encore. (The Encore panel had a yellow trackball and was known as 'a fried egg' controller ISTR)


Although it was housed (if you like) in an Encore style crate I don’t think they had much in common - perhaps the PSU and main computer boards but I can’t remember after all these years. Encore was certainly only 2D but a clever operator could make it look a lot cleverer. I think some of the engineers at Quantel designed extra facilities for Encore in their lunchtime that weren’t part of the supplied machine. One such ‘extra’ was the ability to ‘pick up’ one or more corners of the picture and move it somewhere else. But there was no button on the operator panel for this extra facility, so they decided to call the effect ‘Corner Pin’ and to access it you had to press the ‘Crop’ and ‘Spin’ buttons - hence you remembered Crop Spin equals Corner Pin. Amazing what details you can remember after 30 years!

You are right in saying Cypher had a fried egg control panel similar to the Encore panel, I think it also had a big QWERTY keyboard too with extra buttons obviously. Here is link to partial picture of it:

https://www.kitplus.com/images/articles/1307697426047796.jpg
Last edited by bluecortina on 17 November 2020 8:12pm

11 days later

JA
james-2001 Central (East) East Midlands Today
And that's the last we'll see of the cypher graphics until Christmas 1990 now after last night's episodes.
AJ
Anthony Jarvis London London
Shame that. Oh well, at this rate we’ll see it in a couple of months!
BE
benriggers Meridian (South) Oxford
BBC Four are showing Christmas Special 1995 as part of Xmas 1995 night on 19th December (alongside What We Were Watching Xmas 1995 and One Foot in the Grave Christmas Special from that year)
https://www.bbc.co.uk/schedules/p00fzl6b/2020/12/19

Also seen before, but BBC Four are also showing Christmas (25th Dec) 1984 (23rd Dec 1.50am), and Christmas 1989 (27th Dec 0.30am)
"They don't want your name, just your number"
CO
Colm Anglia (West) Look East (West sub-opt)
Even my other half thinks the non-Cypher graphics are boring.

The second edition tonight (first tx. 3-5-1990) sees the first sighting of the then-new BBC Radio 1 logo.
DE88 and Anthony Jarvis gave kudos
JA
james-2001 Central (East) East Midlands Today
The BBC logo and MCMXC is back on the credits too.
DE88 and Anthony Jarvis gave kudos
GE
thegeek Founding member London London
The story of 1988 got an airing on BBC Two last night - I'm not entirely clear why!
Avatar credit: SMPTE RP198
KE
kernow
The story of 1988 got an airing on BBC Two last night - I'm not entirely clear why!


They've been showing edited 45 minute versions in that slot for a few weeks now.

It's the slot which is normally occupied by Later...
MU
mumu03
They have repeated the Story Ofs as well as the Big Hits compilations from time to time before, although I don't think they've been shown on Two until this year.
JA
james-2001 Central (East) East Midlands Today
I think some of the Big Hits have been shown on BBC2 before this year. The 64-75 one definitely has.
MU
mumu03
Sneaky edit of 18/05/1990 on BBC4 tonight where Lisa Stansfield's video clip in its entirety was edited out, thanks to Nicky Campbell mentioning Cyril Smith twice during his link into it. I presume it must've been too hard to edit around this?

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