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Back into the realm of PowerPoint game shows we go, with a mock-up of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? in its classic, Tarrant-led incarnation. This is something I’ve attempted several times over several years, but this is definitely the best yet. Some extra sparkle is provided by renders of my now rather old 3D model of the 2001 set. I would ideally have gone for the original 1998 set, but my model of that is inferior and, frankly, the motivation to redo it isn’t there.

Hopefully it’s not too hard to see how it works from the video, but in any case: the options appear by clicking anywhere. The quizmaster then clicks on the letter at the bottom of the screen corresponding to the contestant’s final answer. Clicking on said letter a second time reveals the correct answer. Lifelines function for every question; it’s just a case of remembering to input the information beforehand. I have yet to find a way of carrying over the usage of lifelines; it might not even be possible, so as it is the contestant has all three available for every question.

Question setups for each correct answer are ready-made, and can be copied and pasted in any order to create a full stack.

It’s quite a convoluted animation setup, as anyone who’s worked with PowerPoint beyond spinning and bouncing text can probably imagine, but it works rather well and isn’t overly hard to edit. It’s implementing the sound effects which is likely to be the phone a friend moment.

It’s that Countdown sequence remake I mentioned back in January, when I reworked the 1989 titles. You have doubtless been on the edge of your seats since then, and for that I can only apologise.

And yes, there are some errors in there, but hopefully none so shamefully glaring as previously. It’s an extended cut this time around too, as, for some reason, the original Countdown theme tune was edited down to twenty seconds, despite predecessor Calendar Countdown using a perfectly serviceable thirty second version. I’m using that uncut theme here.

These snazzy CGI titles were introduced in 1987 for the 500th episode special (for the record, we’re fast approaching 8,000 episodes and forty years on air) and lasted just over two years. I’m wondering if they were perhaps saw the teatime game show on the other side – Blockbusters, of course – and decided they too would like a futuristic 7-segment style logotype? While we’re at it, how on earth did Bob manage to get away without a single appearance in Dictionary Corner? He’d probably have been a brilliant host aswell. Perhaps he was just too cool for Countdown.

Though obviously a big visual update back in the day, I was somewhat indifferent to the titles prior to working on this. I can imagine the animation process in the eighties was rather more challenging and laborious than today, and still I found it a pain to get those letters and numbers to fly around into the box. That’s partly why I hit the wall months ago – I just didn’t have a clue how to do it properly! Eventually, after resolving to get it out of the way by hook or by crook, I found a way using a spline and offsetting each letter. But it still doesn’t look quite as elegant as the original, so hats off to YTV and whoever animated this sequence.

Wheel of Fortune!

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.

If you were wondering what the answer is, here you go and you’re welcome.

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?

Back to MagicaVoxel once more, and, this time, I set out to create a wooden shack or log cabin sort of dwelling. I think we can all agree that I nailed that.

But who’s to turn down a church build if your mind is just going that way? Divine intervention.

I wasn’t using any particular example as reference here, instead just riffing off my ingrained memories of the countless churches dotted around here (though avoiding the characteristic round tower yet again). I could see this overlooking a village green or hiding behind some trees down a quiet country lane.

It’s a bit on the lanky side, but never mind about that! I like how the tower came out – initially I wasn’t going to attempt the flint stonework and just leave the facade as solid colours, but I think the extrusion and the resulting texture has really lifted the model so I’m glad to have persevered (and boy did it take some time!). It’s nice to see that, even going way beyond the single block, MagicaVoxel holds up and still performs well, even on my ancient setup.

I would have liked to have added more greenery; it does look a little bare on that front but my voxel trees thus far have been, well, dreadful. Definitely something that warrants a focus all of its own.

But this is certainly a step up from my first church attempt, just before Christmas, and I’m happy to be tackling larger scenes with this fun program. I’m sure the log cabin will turn up some other time; when I want to build another church, most likely.

Remember The Sims? I’m talking about the original 2000 release with its isometric view, not the current game, whatever number in the series they are up to, because I haven’t played it and, by default, that means it isn’t as good. Do you remember when you’d blow all of your Simoleons constructing an obnoxiously large house for your Sims, furnish it and feel happy… then zoom out and realise it was a glorified stack of crates? I feel like that’s what happened here. I wasn’t going for something quite so brutal, but I think chickening out on the roof is the main reason for that, here. Still, the colours are appealing should you want your holiday home pained with strawberry ice cream. Choice words there for someone drinking strawberry milkshake.

This was a MagicaVoxel triumph for me, though, on a previously unmatched scale. Ever since I started exploring this software, a few years ago now, I’ve been looking at amazing creations online which appeared far larger than the 126x126x126 object limit. This perplexed me. Well, it turns out there’s a world editor where you can link objects together and position them pretty much however you desire, and apparently you can use as many as your computer can withstand. It’s a block editor that doesn’t make you want to scream and tear your hair out (although admittedly I was rather left to my own devices, as the only meaningful tutorial I could find on it was speaking French). But I got there in the end. This goes some way to explain the boxy nature of the piece, as it’s really made up of the same blocks: block with door and window, block with just window, balcony, etc.

After some time raising my eyebrow in befuddlement, I’ve unlocked something in MagicaVoxel with this exercise. I wonder how many others used it and gave up before they even knew of the world editor, as it’s quite well hidden. But it’s easy once you know how. I do still find myself wrestling with the camera quite a lot, but maybe at this stage it’s just me; it’s an intriguing twist on pixel art exploration and does what it does very well. Have a go if you like.

Round and round we go, for it’s something of a circular journey here in blog land. Is it? I’m not sure. But, here we have a Ferris wheel, which certainly does go round and round. I tried one way, way back in January 2016 which looked to be a whopper of a thing, but this time I’ve opted for a smaller, more rudimentary model, the likes of which you might have seen at the town fair years ago, or at a vintage fair today. At least there’s a bit more to the scene than five years ago, and, yes, I have worked out how make the chairs rotate in sync with the wheel without them going upside-down. Progress.

I went with the name Wonder Wheel, which I saw given to a real-life version somewhere but can’t place. Maybe it was a common name. It certainly seems fitting to me; few rides are as wondrous or iconic as the big wheel.

Vintage very much the word of the day here, hence these black-and-white renders, perhaps taken in those days of yore when the sun went gone down and the big bulbs started to light up the rotating wheel. It’s quite a magical sight and one which encapsulates so much of that atmosphere about the fairground which I love. Wonder wheel, indeed.

Who thinks academia is a blood condition?

If ignorance is bliss, who’s in heaven?

Who should blog off?

It’s time to vote off… the weakest link!

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’s Weakest Link, anyone?

I thought this would be fun in a “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire 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.