Busting creative blocks that is, or at least attempting to, for here we have another game show title sort-of-recreation-but-not-good-enough-to-be-exact-so-let’s-call-it-a-redux. And that’s Blockbusters. I’ve gone with the original, lesser-remembered sequence, used from 1983 until around 1986, when the more famous metropolis with flying hexagons came in.
Aside from adding some extra pink glow and turning the “stream of knowledge” into some trippy tunnel – and with different nuggets of said knowledge – not a huge amount has changed. This one was good fun – frustrating in places, but it seems like every 3D project goes that way to a degree. I’ve learnt some nifty new shortcuts on this and the Countdown attempt, so they’re not completely pointless (now there’s a game show you’ll never have to put up with here!)
As far as I can tell, there aren’t any screw-ups in this one, either, so that’s something to hand jive about. I did have to pull the original version from YouTube because of some horrible flicker on the aforementioned glow, but that seems to have been fixed.
For reference, comparison or just sheer nostalgia, here’s the first ever episode of (UK) Blockbusters, from almost forty years ago.
Happy New Year to you. You crazy fool, sticking around for all this time.
So. A new year. A bit battered, a bit tired, but a fresh start apparently. So let’s go back to the late eighties while also throwing back to last year. In a semi-response to a post from a few months back, here we have a complete Countdown title redux.
The real thing here is, can you spot the cock-up in my recreation?
It’s relatively minor, such that it took me a few watches to notice so, if you do catch it, a nod to you for being awake and bothered. There are lots of TV and game show enthusiasts among my YouTube subscribers, many of whom beyond eagle-eyed. I’m frankly surprised that none of them pointed it out straight away.
Anyway, this is based on the titles introduced in summer of 1989. I have upscaled to widescreen and applied a few tweaks here and there, chiefly a more faithful representation of the clock (without losing the aesthetic) and using the familiar white and blue colour scheme for the words, not the red and white which proved problematic to say the least. It’s a rather simple sequence; creation was more time-consuming than difficult. It does look primitive now, but I still think it’s a neat title concept, probably the strongest the show has had.
I’m warning you now that, partly due to the kind reaction to this on YouTube, a similar treatment of the preceding Countdown sequence is underway, so watch out for that. If it’s good, it might end up here. If there’s an error, it might too end up here!
Yes, it’s a bit of a throwback for me, but then what isn’t at this point of dragging Jaywalks along? People who have been here for a while may recall an old wheel model being the star of more than one art series, most prominently so in Twenty-Six Spins, where it determined the prompts for each day. That was three and half years ago now. Let that sink in. Three and a half years. And still I haven’t got around to doing it again.
This project was nothing more than me taking the old girl for another spin and giving her a fresh coat of paint, in line with the first series of Wheel of Fortune on ITV, back in 1988. The decadence of the tubes surrounding the wheel, flashing in sync with each spin felt like a fun aesthetic to try and recreate. Felt like. Inspiration also came from YouTube recommending me videos of people showing off their home-made wheels – actual, physical wheels which are much more impressive than this. See here.
Incidentally, Wheel at the time offered some of the largest major prizes on television (£4,000 or a cool eighties car) and it would hold its own in that regard for ten years or so; only when Who Wants To Be A Millionaire came along did Wheel start to look somewhat naff and, sure enough, by 2000 it was hidden away in daytime. By 2002 it was all over, bar the odd filler repeat. Though not exactly a huge favourite of mine – I enjoyed playing the Nintendo game with my sister more than the actual show – I remain surprised that it hasn’t been brought back at some point in the last twenty years. What’s stopping them? Everything else has come back.
However, if we’re seriously talking American game shows that deserve another shot here… Jeopardy please please please, but do it properly for heaven’s sake.
A few weeks ago, I was approached on YouTube by Pacdude Games, who suggested collaborating to update his Countdown presentation package, for streams and such. This sounded exciting and I’ve always liked his work, so I said yes.
Thankfully, the majority of visual work had already been done, as I tackled the current Countdown set way back in January. This project was mostly tidying the set up, and placing cameras for rendering the clock sequence in a fashion that is somewhat faithful to the programme – making sure there is space in the lower third for the different puzzles which, helpfully, are not uniform. Also added was a retexturing for the crucial conundrum, which can now adopt mood lighting resembling that seen on the show.
This was good fun, and Cory’s coding has turned these elements into something I could only dream of creating. It’s always satisfying to see graphics actually being used.
Here’s the first Countdown Throwdown stream. It’s a good laugh! Hopefully there will be more. You can also find Pacdude Games here.
I was asked to take one of my Countdown set models and animate the classic opening camera shot, where it would pan from the audience around to the set. Always one to give the people what they want, I went ahead and did it, with the 1994 model. And, always one to go overboard, I included an old attempt at reimagining the show’s opening titles from the same era. The fact that they aren’t finished, I fear, tells you all you need know. Title sequences are harder than they look! But I thought I’d just include the last few seconds to feed into this new render.
Countdown used to get new titles every few years, but the current set have been around for almost ten years, likely for budget reasons. I would say they’re due a refresh, so if anyone out there is adept with animation and fancies a project, why not have a go?
The Weakest Link. It’s that show from 2000, where the host was really mean to the contestants, and even encouraged them to be mean to their so-called teammates!
Well, apparently that wasn’t even meant to be the case; the original intention was for the host to play it straight. However, Anne Robinson found herself getting so frustrated with the players’ poor performance and questionable voting that she just started “telling it like it is”, and that became the format’s unique selling point, imitated by others all over the world.
The nostalgia for Weakest Link, actually, doesn’t really come from the programme, which I rarely saw as everybody else wanted to watch Neighbours instead. As it was, the most I normally saw of it was the last few minutes before The Simpsons. No, the memories here are in the merchandise; fond memories of dark Christmas afternoons with the board game, which was good enough to come not only with several cards full of those pre-voting barbs, but also an Anne Robinson mask for the host to wear. The PlayStation game was a good laugh too, offering a good representation of the game with the added bonus of voice actors, who really hammed up their portrayal of the show’s contestants.
Initial success petered out naturally over time, but the show trucked along on BBC Two for several years, with the odd celebrity special at the weekend on BBC One. Link would see a belated full-time promotion to One in 2008 after they lost Neighbours to Channel 5. It would remain there for a few years before returning to its original channel, making way for the burgeoning Pointless, which has held the slot seemingly ever since. It was around this time that Anne decided she’d had enough of insulting strangers, and the show met a fairly quiet end in April 2012.
There were rumours of a comeback in 2017, in a bid to bolster lacklustre Saturday night schedules on BBC One. Alas, besides a one-off for Children in Need that year, this did not come true; if it was on the table then evidently Robinson didn’t want to do it, which is fair enough. She’s taking the helm of Countdown shortly, a choice I absolutely was not expecting. I would say the chances of her returning to Link any time soon are slim, but that’s not to say it couldn’t return with a new host – it might even help break in the inevitable shift in tone (there were instances where Robinson got a bit full of herself and went way too far). Robert Rinder’sWeakest Link, anyone?
I thought this would be fun in a “Who Wants To Be AMillionaire set, play with lights” kind of way. It turned out that the animations and lighting sequences in this show are much more complex than just dropping them like Millionaire. I had some peculiar hiccups too, with cloned lights deciding to fade out by themselves, but I managed to work around that, sort of, by taking them out of the cloner and making them follow moving targets. As usual, I suspect there was a much easier solution staring me in the face. So, really it wasn’t a huge amount of fun, but it’s productivity in what has been a most unproductive year thus far, so you can’t vote me off for that.
“BANK!” – five seconds out of time, as usual.
I think the weakest link for me is this block editor… ugh!
Back in those heady days of 2018, I had a go at some Channel 4 mocks, not for the first time either. “Let’s see how we get on with the blocks in 2021” I said at the end of that post. And look what’s happened!!! Prescient or predictable? I know what my money’s on.
Anyway, these were inspired by a favourite YouTuber returning to the fray after several years and posting various mocks of his own – one of which sees the Channel 4 blocks morphing into the TV Ark logo. Musing on that idea of fusion, I took two favourites – the 1982 package from Four, and the neon lights BBC Two ident from 1991 – and smooshed them together. Here are the results. It’s rather busier than the original in terms of lighting and possibly the reason Lambie-Nairn kept to neon blue is revealed here, as things go a tad Chrismassy. But I thought it would be criminal to do this for Channel 4 and not use the colours. I probably say it every time I post Four stuff, but they really should bring the colours back.
The lights are cloned and set to flash at random. It’s possible to have an animated sequence whilst this is going, so really I could have had another bash at some of the original Four motifs. But I thought stationary was effective and quite satisfying in itself.
As both idents used here were created by the Lambie-Nairn agency, I can’t let this post go by without a tribute to the man behind it all, Martin Lambie-Nairn, who passed away over Christmas. What a genius Martin was; a true visionary who made marks that inspired me, along with countless others I’m sure. Thank you, Martin.
I would ramble at length as usual, but my brain is in the Christmas-New Year sludge, this time more than ever it seems. I have to admit, I am enjoying not doing much of anything at all.
This animation loop was rendered back in March, as a submission for Thurne Mill’s 200th birthday exhibition (which, of course, was indefinitely postponed). Thanks to the BBC Sound Effects Archive for the audio.
Perhaps it will calm things down for you, for all of eighteen seconds at least.
Of course there’s a Robotnik Day. He just declared it one minute ago! I have to thank YouTube for this one. Not for the first time, its recommendation algorithm is responsible for this post. You see, amongst all the cute cat, husky and Timothy Dalton videos, an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog appeared. At the time it was seen as a bit crap and, let me assure you, it is rather – and that might explain why only one series was made. It may also explain the cult following online. Needless to say, I loved the show as a youngster, getting up at stupid o’clock on Saturdays to watch it and collecting several of the video tapes and watching them repeatedly. You can understand why I had to click that recommendation and watch. It’s mindless silliness.
Naturally, the chief villain, Dr. Robotnik, was my favourite character for he was responsible for most of the laughs. Voiced by Long John Baldry and flanked by his two haplessly hopeless henchmen in Scratch (robot chicken) and Grounder (robot… erm?), it was hard not to side with them against a Sonic so cocky and obnoxious you were relieved he never spoke in the Mega Drive games.
Other than Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine – a surprisingly addictive puzzle game – this version of Robotnik never appeared in a video game, so I thought I’d have a go at converting him to pixel art. I did consider recreating some of the Mega Drive boss battles with him, but that didn’t turn out well, sadly. So, we just have some poses with some animation chucked in to make up for it. At the top, we have Robotnik’s frustration at Sonic foiling his latest scheme. Below was a bit of experimentation and perhaps a little tame for a super villain; maybe he’s waiting for his “metallic morons” to arrive.
How about a static pose for us to finish, ‘Botnik?
There we are. And once again I have to mention that his name is Robotnik and not “Eggman”. Thank you.
Here’s another funfair contraption. Anyone know what it’s called? Oh well, take a seat, they’re going fast! Or not, as it appears here. Which, to be honest, chimes with my memories of the same ride at the Pleasure Beach. I am guessing it was more popular elsewhere.
This nineties wonder is known as a Super Loop on Top, though of course this has been styled as Colorado, complete with springs and red rocks. I did attempt to model the local version of this ride – Terminator – a few years back, but this time I wanted to try Colorado. The ride always caught my eye with its swerving, tilting movements, but I think this paint job makes it even cooler. I believe there are also water jets to make the ride literally cooler, but I evidently haven’t reached that stage yet.
I also wanted to get the proportions a little better this time around. Feeling bullish, I ended up contacting the manufacturer, Moser Rides, and asking if specifications were available. To my surprise, Stefano Moser responded and sent me some catalogue scans which came in very handy indeed. Grazie, Stefano! As they say, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
A first for this build was the inclusion of backdrop scenery, lined with an excessive number of flashing bulbs. I mostly just copied the artwork from reference images, so I can’t take credit for that, but it’s fun; certainly it adds to the fairground feel.
Animation-wise, it’s still not perfect and it was still rather frustrating, but at least this time the gondola is actually joined to both arms. Hold on tight!