Posts from the ‘logos’ Category

Nostalgiathon #5: Movie Intros Used to Be Awesome.

Today is the actual first anniversary of this blog’s creation! Yaaaaay! (I’ve only been on WordPress since January though– I started out on Blogger.)

So how many of you guys remember the days when it was a REALLY BIG DEAL for a big-budget movie to be shown on broadcast television? If not, here I am to jog your memory a little with movie intros from back in the day. Some of them are before my time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re cool.

Don’t get confused, now. When I say “movie intros”, I don’t mean the actual intros from movies. I’m talking about the opening animations made by the network. You know, like the HBO in Space intro.

Why were movies on TV such a big deal? Well, because even though VHS was rapidly becoming common in the early 80s, it wasn’t common yet for pre-recorded movies to actually be affordable. So it was cheaper to get some blank tapes and record the sucker. (Still is!) And before the days of home video and pay-TV, it was a big deal for obvious reasons: when a movie was done in the theatre, you had to either wait for a re-release or wait for it to come on TV to be able to see it again!

Anyway, since movies were an event, the movie intros were generally pretty flashy. And since I’m a sucker for old graphics like this, I’m gonna show you some.
We’ll start with NBC.

Brief history lesson time! NBC wasn’t exactly at the top of their game during the 70s or the first half of the 80s. As a matter of fact, things were looking pretty bleak for them until The Cos came along in 1984 and changed everything.

In spite of their ratings being in the toilet, NBC managed to make some interesting movie intros. Here’s one from 1981 (with a quick station ID at the beginning):

I dig that animation of the filmstrip becoming the 11-feathered peacock logo. Pretty nice CGI for the time. Note that the 11-feathered peacock has a stylized “N” logo behind it. That’s what NBC’s logo was from roughly 1979 to 1986. For a while before that, they used the “N” by itself. Personally, out of all of them, this “Proud N” is my favorite NBC logo. The peacock looks so much friendlier and the “N” behind it is a nice touch.

I also like the little musical theme used in this intro. Can’t say I care for the blocky typeface though. And this definitely isn’t the pinnacle of NBC movie intros– it’s actually pretty low-key when compared to some of the others, like this next one I’m going to show you.

Sorry about the bad quality!

This one’s from 1985. Frankly, I’m not a big fan of it. It’s bombastic and pretentious and the music is really obnoxious, but that CGI is pretty nice. I actually have a vague memory of seeing this once or twice when I was a kid– I would’ve been about three years old at the time. There are a few of these kinds of things that I remembered even though I was so young. I guess they just made that big of an impression on me.

Finally, here’s my favorite one from NBC. We’re jumping back to 1979 here.

Youtube took it down, so I uploaded it to my Photobucket.

Okay, so the graphics themselves aren’t all that great, I guess, but damn if that music doesn’t make up for it. Something about this intro just charms the hell out of me. I also just noticed that at the end of the sequence, the graphic looks like a layer cake with the Peacock on top and fireworks shooting out of it. How awesome is that?

Now we move on to CBS.

CBS was the king of television for many years, but finally slipped to second place in the 70s, and went on something of a ratings slump in the 80s. But for my family, CBS was probably the most-watched network. Mostly because I loved its Saturday morning lineup, and it was the place to watch animated holiday specials such as Charlie Brown and Garfield back then.

I also remember my parents watching a lot of the made-for-TV movies on there, and back then they were preceded by this:

That one was used mostly in the mid-late 80s. The CGI is slick, but I don’t care for the music– it sounds more like a news open than a movie open if you ask me.

I prefer the animation on this earlier version dating back to 1983…

…mostly because of that classy bit where the filmstrip becomes the CBS Eye. The music also seems to fit it better.

However, I think my favorite CBS movie intro is this gem from the mid 1970s:

I love that shiny, spinning film reel! The music is pretty and catchy, and that typeface is one of my favorites of all time, even though it screams “1970s” at the top of its lungs. I think I like it BECAUSE it’s so 70s. Also, they didn’t need CGI back then to have cool animations like this.

And finally, ABC.

It was ABC that ousted CBS from the top spot in the 70s. As I understand it, ABC’s dominance was due in part to their Movie of the Week. The Movie of the Week was an extremely popular showcase of made-for-TV films. It started in 1969 and they made a slitscan-tastic intro to go with it. Yeah, I know, this kinda doesn’t count because Hollywood movies didn’t air under this banner, but it’s a piece of television history, and I’m fond of it.

Like I said, this sequence was created in 1969– before CGI. They used slitscan, which is…some kind of animation technique using cameras and multiple planes and stuff. I can’t explain how it works, but it was also famously used in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Now, at the time, this thing was hot shit. There had never been TV graphics quite like this before. Also, the nice, happy music was composed by Burt Bacharach, and has a tendency to get stuck in my head. (Note: the audio quality isn’t due to poor compression, either…that’s just the way TV audio was back then. Stereo audio on TV didn’t become common until the mid-80s.)

Now, here’s the intro they used for Hollywood movies in the late 70s:

This one got taken down too; luckily, I archive all this stuff. Bwahaha!

I like this one; out of all the ones on TV at the time, I think it’s the nicest (though NBC’s 1979 intro up there looked and sounded a bit more “modern”). It’s colorful and catches your eye, and isn’t too pretentious. The music is grand without being overbearing. Looks like this one might have been done with slitscan too, but I’m not sure. There are also several different color schemes, and usually there would be a voiceover saying the words as they would appear on the screen. I prefer this “clean” version, though. Also, this color variation is my favorite of all the ones I’ve seen.

In the 80s, they were still going strong, broadcasting some pretty huge movies (Poltergeist, Superman, and Raiders of the Lost Ark to name a few). And to accompany those movies was one hell of an intro.

This particular capture of it has lots of stuff included. At the beginning, there’s a pre-emption announcement, then the “Closed Caption” bump, then after the intro sequence there’s a preview of the movie in which they really play things up. It emphasizes how big an event this kind of thing was.

That right there is probably the best graphic ever to be shown on network television. It’s almost as awesome as HBO in Space! (If my sources are correct, the theme is even composed by the same guy.) I realize that the graphics may not be all that impressive now, but imagine seeing that in 1981 when they first started using it. The music is really what makes it, though. It’s a perfect prelude to a great movie.

So there we have it. And hey, I’m still meeting my deadline! It’s only 10:33 here (I’ve been working on this damn post for a few hours now…phew).

Shock and Horror! Logos of Doom.

Maybe it’s a bit early for posts about scary things, but I feel inspired to write about this. Instead of Christmas in July, it’s Halloween in June. Crank the AC all the way up, put on a sweater and exercise your imagination.

Anyway, this post will feature a few of the “scariest” production logos, according to yours truly, roughly arranged from mildly creepy to panic-inducing. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Scary LOGOS? Oh, how geeky and retarded.” And maybe you, dear reader, are correct. But judging from the number of online groups and message boards dedicated to these kinds of things, I’m not the only one who’s fascinated by this stuff.

Now, the impact of these things is greatly lessened when viewed on the computer. The reason that so many of these things were shockers is they would often catch you off-guard with zooming animations and jarring music and sound effects. They’re also much scarier when you’re four years old.

However, keep in mind that some of these bastards are really freaking loud, so watch your volume! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Disney Channel Memories 1: Station IDs n’ Stuff

I’ve had a hard time lately deciding what to write about next. I thought about reviewing a couple of movies, since I haven’t done that in a while. But I didn’t really feel like doing a full-fledged review of either of the movies I had in mind.

Then I came across an old Disney Channel clip yesterday, and I realized that both movies had something in common: we had recorded them off the Disney Channel back in the late 80s/early 90s. So I figured, why not just write about my memories of the Disney Channel?

There will be a second half to this post, coming immediately after I post this one. I just wanted to split it up since I’ve written almost 1200 words on the subject. I’ll give you fair warning: this first half will be focusing on the geeky stuff like station IDs and bumpers and junk, so if you’d rather skip this part and read the next one, my feelings will not be hurt: I’ll even give you the link.

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Disney Channel Memories 2: Movies and Cartoons

A good chunk of the movies I watched back then were recorded off the Disney Channel. We had whole tapes chock full of their programming. There was almost always something coming on that we liked. Obviously, this is where I got a lot of my Disney animated features from. I owned some of the actual VHSs, but quite a few of them were taped off TV. Yes, I’ve been a pirate since I was five years old. My daddy raised me right, yep.

One of the first Disney movies I remember my dad recording for me was The Three Caballeros. Surely someone out there besides me has seen this movie. I used to watch it constantly. It’s not your usual Disney feature; it’s more like a musical travelogue than anything else, and in the end it descends into a sort of psychedelic madness. However, it’s funny, creative and visually striking, and it’s a piece of history– the movie was actually commissioned by the US Government during World War II to try to introduce the American people to Latin American culture.

Here’s my favorite part of the movie: the titular musical number featuring Donald Duck and his friends José Carioca and Panchito Pistoles, a Brazilian parrot and a Mexican rooster, respectively. It’s one of the funniest Disney musical numbers ever; the zany sight gags are more like something you’d expect from Warner Bros., not Disney.

And now for something completely different.

Sometime in the early 90s, Disney aired the stand-up comedy special Bill Cosby: Himself. When I was a kid, this was the funniest shit I had ever seen in my life. Even though I had the whole thing memorized, I would laugh every time I watched it, and I still laughed when I watched it again the other day. This thing is truly a classic.

However, one thing I didn’t know back then was that Disney Channel cut out about fifteen minutes of this special. I didn’t find out until I watched it on DVD years later. They cut the parts where The Coz was talking about drugs and alcohol. I guess I can understand why they did it, but they should have left it in anyway because the drugs bit is one of the most hilarious parts.

Here’s the clip:

Some of the other movies I got courtesy of the Disney Channel were Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan (which I never liked, but whatever), Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, and The Little Mermaid. I also had various non-Disney cartoons that they would show sometimes, including one Thanksgiving special that starred a bunch of animal characters, one of which was a fox. I can’t remember much else about that one, but I watched it a bunch of times.

However, one show I do remember watching a lot of is a Canadian cartoon called The Raccoons. I only had a few episodes on tape, but I watched it every afternoon. This show had a really cool ending theme song that I loved as a kid. This isn’t the actual end credits sequence (couldn’t find a good video of it), but it does have the full version of the song:

Anyway, I haven’t seen that show in a long time, but I remember it being different than a lot of other cartoons at the time. It seemed so much more mature, and I remember the characters being surprisingly well-developed for an 80s ‘toon. Hell, as a matter of fact, the antagonist actually becomes a good guy later on. You didn’t see that very often back then (except maybe in anime). There was a DVD boxset released, but apparently it only has 9 episodes in it and goes for like 40 dollars. So it doesn’t look like I’ll be checking that out anytime soon.

So…you might be wondering what the hell happened to the Disney Channel. After they changed to basic cable in 1997, it was all downhill from there. I guess they decided they wanted to make more money. And they do– apparently the network and its franchises and such are estimated to be worth some 800 million dollars nowadays. That’s fine and all, but I really miss the more diverse programming that anybody could enjoy, rather than the very narrow demographic they cater to nowadays. It’s like an MTV for kids, almost. And we all know how much MTV sucks ass.

To add insult to injury, there’s almost nothing “Disney” about Disney Channel (yes, they have officially dropped “The” from the name). It pains me to think that many kids will grow up associating the Disney name with stuff like Hannah Montana, High School Musical (oh God save us all), and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. I’ve been thinking that maybe they should just do a name change and a re-launch since there are so few actual “Disney” characters and programs on the network.

On the off chance that they do show one of their classic features (quite rare these days; they want to you shell out the cash for them on DVD, of course), it’s interrupted quite often and then you have to deal with their tweenybopper crap.

However, I’ve still got my memories, so when I think of the Disney Channel, I always try to think of the good ol’ days. Keeps my blood pressure down.

A Brief Glimpse Back at 1987.

I really wish I could think of a better title for this post, but I’d like to publish it sometime in the next three hours.

As you can see, I haven’t really been inspired to write for this blog much of late. Part of it is because I was instead motivated to work on my story for once– which is not a bad thing, it just meant putting NJ on the back burner for a while.

However, I’ve been looking at my collection of old station IDs, movie intros, and commercials, and I think it’s time I write about that stuff some more. Because I’m sure that’s the kind of thing everybody wants to read about! And please don’t complain to me about there being no pretty pictures to look at. Why do you need to look at screencaps from the video when you can just watch the damn thing?

Let’s kick things off with this clip from CBS, recorded in December 1987. I believe this was shown between A Garfield Christmas and some other holiday special, though I’m not sure which one.

Check it.

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