Next Dimension: Countdown to 2003

new11The show is back on the road! After being thoroughly counted out in recent weeks, it seems felicitous to return to the digestive biscuit embrace of Countdown. As much a joy as a convenience –  I shan’t lie! – it has spurred just about the only thing I’ve created since my last post approximately ten years ago. I know, I know… it’s not good enough!

With typical over-excitement, Richard Whiteley spent the last Countdowns of 2002 banging on about the new set coming the following year. This would have been the first real cosmetic change in a near decade of viewing, so it did pique my curiosity – I had visions of the show being completely changed: all computerised and shiny, a charmlessly futuristic number done on the clock and everyone wearing spacesuits to fit in.

I was, of course, drastically overestimating the Countdown budget, never mind the appeal of spacesuits. What we did ultimately get didn’t do much for me, frankly, though I suppose your summation will depend on how you rate an assault of bright pink and magenta. Perhaps it was all an attempt to make Richard’s jackets appear less garish? Maybe they were the inspiration to begin with – I can appreciate it that way!

Designer Andy Walmsley is also credited with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? – a masterful design that has travelled the globe. A valiant fist of Countdown was made; well-meant and surely unique, but just a bit over the top and ill-fitting for me. Thank goodness the game’s simple beauty shone brighter than any set piece!

Now that I’m done slagging off the set, I’d best talk about the process. This was a redressing job, working with my original graphics and essentially sticking cuboids around the carryover elements. While perhaps not easy on the eye in reality, it was fun to play with intense colours and semi-transparent material in 3D – though, as I whinge about every encounter, these features did heavily impact on render times, on this occasion even creating some issues in animation, with nasty strobing on the stripes… hmm! I think I really have generated something resembling the real deal!

Maybe my indifference toward this whole look is compelled by the fact that Countdown was sprawled on the ropes, reeling for much of this period. Feeling bloated after the extension to forty-five minutes, it was then thrown back an hour to 3pm, immediately robbed of its sizable student audience (including me!) and raising doubts about its future. Of course the most monumental blow came in 2005, with the very sad passing of Richard; this beckoned two lacklustre runs with Des I (Lynam) and II (O’Connor) as chair – both were presenting while apparently scanning the studio for the quickest exit. Thank goodness Jeff Stelling and Rachel Riley came along in 2009, waking the thing up and restoring Countdown to the integrity and modest vigour of the good old days.

There’s only one more ‘era’ of Countdown to cover, really – the nineties, the era I remember most warmly – so I mightaswell give that a go. One day, when I’m thrown a conundrum.

 

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19 comments
  1. Bill Fufkin said:

    Gosh, returning as only Jacob can…I’m pleased to see the show back on the road. B

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thank you, Bill – oh yes, you can always count on me! Y’see what I did there…

      Like

      • Jacob said:

        Ha ha – I learnt from the master!

        Like

    • Jacob said:

      Haha – I’m pretty good at the word games, but have really gone rusty with the numbers lately! But that’s the joy of it – you can always join in and have a go.

      In other game show news, did you see: Channel 4 are doing a celebrity version of The Crystal Maze as part of Stand Up To Cancer next month! I wonder if they’re using this to test the water for a grand TV revival…? Intriguing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fabulous images Jacob, amazing reflections on the shiney floor and those gorgeous colours 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks, Phil! I do love the effects the program gives with shines and reflections – a bugger to render, sure, but very satisfying results.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Well they were fun to try and replicate. 😛 Thanks, Charlie – now to get me backside back in gear and keep going!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Billy said:

    Do you have any high res images of your set renders? I’d love to use them as a reference for some Minecraft builds I like to do, they’re fantastic

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Hello Billy, and thank you!

      If you right-click and copy the image address, then take off the height parameters, you can access the full-size images. Feel free to use them.

      If you’re after a specific shot, I could give that a go. Good luck with the build, I’d love to see it when complete!

      Like

      • Billy said:

        I didn’t know you could do that, hah. My versions will probably be terrible to, don’t be too excited for them. I hope you do the wings set at some point, being born in the mid 90s that basically what I grew up with. I like all of the sets but I have warm feelings for the wings set.

        Also, you do have one here and on your other set renders, but a “Richard’s side” view would be best as it covers all of the elements really well

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jacob said:

        Ha, I’m sure it’ll be grand! Incidentally I have tried a few times to make that 90s set, but it’s proving quite frustrating. I should hope to crack it one day because indeed, it is the classic Countdown look.

        Here are some shots from that side:

        Like

      • Billy said:

        That’s perfect, thanks massively

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Billy said:

    Also, I hope this doesn’t sound like a request, but would you ever do the weirdo sets for Calendar Countdown? With the weird lightbulb clocks and that, I realize that reference materials are slim but it might be worth it

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      I hadn’t thought of that – hm, could be interesting. I’m sure a Minecraft counterpart would work beautifully, too. 😉

      Like

      • Billy said:

        Indeed, I shall be working on them before long. The 2017 and 2003 sets will be the easiest I think

        Liked by 1 person

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