Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

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Simon36
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Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Simon36 »

Watching an episode of Upstairs Downstairs (Will Ye No Come Back Again) which features a slow crossfade from Angela Baddeley's face to the footage of the drive through the Highlands, and at the end of the episode, from the drive back to Gordon Jackson unpacking, made me wonder when this particular habit died out on tv. I wonder when the last time it turned up on tv or in a film was? Seems forever since I saw it.

Another one like this was tv's old habit of splitting the screen when two characters were talking on the phone. I'm fairly certain the last time I saw this was in The Charmer (1987) and it felt quite old fashioned even then.

Focus pulling from background to foreground or vice versa is another one long gone now... anyone think of any others?

I suppose title sequences and theme music could kind of count as things you don't get anymore except on shows commissioned before about 2000...

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Spiny Norman »

What I read somewhere is that apparently surround sound used to be mixed differently. So this is sound & movies so it's slightly off topic. But reportedly if a person walked to the left the sound would follow him, and come only from that direction. With today's quick shot changes that wouldn't work anymore.
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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Simon36 »

Ah well, that's progress...

Another thing, though I have mentioned it before, is the "Joe McGill is currently appearing in Sleuth at the Fortune Theatre" at the end of a programme. This stopped sometime in the early 80s I think. I remember discussing this once when I worked in presentation at the BBC and it has been mentioned by me on here before. Never quite knew whether this was the BBC being very informative or something pushy agents insisted on back then!

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by RayB »

Simon36 wrote:
Focus pulling from background to foreground or vice versa is another one long gone now... anyone think of any others?
I can't readily think of an example, but this is still done in modern drama. I'll keep a look-out for a specific instance.

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by fatcat »

What about the slow picture blurr or wobble into another scene as a character was recalling a past event?

I seem to remember this got parodied and didn't see it much after that.

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Bob Richardson »

Simon36 wrote:Ah well, that's progress...

Another thing, though I have mentioned it before, is the "Joe McGill is currently appearing in Sleuth at the Fortune Theatre" at the end of a programme. This stopped sometime in the early 80s I think. I remember discussing this once when I worked in presentation at the BBC and it has been mentioned by me on here before. Never quite knew whether this was the BBC being very informative or something pushy agents insisted on back then!
They were always known as "Contractuals" in my day with BBC Pres, and they had to be done because of legal agreements with artists. Sometimes they seemed little more than vanity statements when we had to say "Blah Blah is a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company".
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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Simon36 »

Ah THAT's the word, thanks Bob. Wonder why they stopped...

The screen wobble, yes indeed, sometimes accompanied by harp glissandos...

Another one was in American tv dama of the 70s: an establishing shot before a scene of the outside of the house, and if it was night-time, there was always that cricket or whatever the creature was on the soundtrack.

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by fatcat »

I think 'Strange Report' may have started a trend for freeze framing on captions?
It seemed to me to look rather odd and didn't last long on British TV.
However it seemed to work better on US shows who were still using it in the 1980s

IIRC

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Simon36 »

Does any programme have "End of Part One" captions anymore?

The last programme I remember having "End of ACT One" was the Killer trilogy in 1984.

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Ian Wegg »

RayB wrote:
Simon36 wrote:
Focus pulling from background to foreground or vice versa is another one long gone now... anyone think of any others?
I can't readily think of an example, but this is still done in modern drama. I'll keep a look-out for a specific instance.
Not a drama but they do it all the time in "The Chase"

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Peter Neill »

Last Night's Poirot had a focus pull between two characters having a conversation.

and The Now Show on Radio 4 currently has spoof contractual at the end of each episode.

And if an artiste had a on tract for a West End run, presumably they did need permission to do anything outside of the contract. And the quid pro quo might well have been a cross-plug.

Presumably today's contracts are different.

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Post by Simon36 »

Think this one has been mentioned before by me but the white squares that flashed across the screen before each advert. This stopped around mid-1982 I think. It was very cool, never knew what caused it.

Also of course the break bumpers for films on ITV with their flashy "diamonds-out" and "curtains" effects.

Something else you don't get on tv so much these days: people over 40.

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by fatcat »

Simon36 wrote:Think this one has been mentioned before by me but the white squares that flashed across the screen before each advert. This stopped around mid-1982 I think. It was very cool, never knew what caused it.

Also of course the break bumpers for films on ITV with their flashy "diamonds-out" and "curtains" effects.

Something else you don't get on tv so much these days: people over 40.
Yes the most famous one was probably the Rediffusion Adastral?

Advert break from early domestic VTR

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Mike S »

Simon36 wrote: Something else you don't get on tv so much these days: people over 40.
I hear people say this a lot, but it's not really true. Pretty much every show on BBC1 today, for example, is fronted by someone over 40.

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by David Boothroyd »

Now that ITV is no longer regional, it's almost unknown to see the cue dots appear at the top right of the screen to indicate that a break is imminent and it's time to cue up the ad reel.

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Post by Mike S »

Applause over end credits.

Also, applause generally. Of the 'town hall meeting' kind I mean.

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by GarethR »

Crossfades and focus pulls most definitely still happen in both TV and movies. Split-screen for phone calls is rare now but does still happen; when it does, it's almost invariably in comedy/offbeat movies. I saw a three-way split-screen phone call scene just last week in the movie The Trotsky (made in 2009). The wobble-dissolve to indicate a memory or flashback is now such a cliché that it's impossible to use it in anything other than a deliberately parodic way.
David Boothroyd wrote:Now that ITV is no longer regional, it's almost unknown to see the cue dots appear at the top right of the screen to indicate that a break is imminent
The dots are still used in all live ITV shows. Thanks to them, I can amaze/bore my family and friends by saying "5,4,3,2,1, cut" and getting my timing right every time.

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Brian F »

I would think that crossfades would not be used much in case the changing of every pixel at once would eat into the bit-rate and possibly degrade the picture on low bit-rate channels (as some disco scenes with changing lighting have done) and directors may have been advised of this. A fade to black would hide this, a bit, I imagine.

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Simon36 »

Mike S wrote:
Simon36 wrote: Something else you don't get on tv so much these days: people over 40.
I hear people say this a lot, but it's not really true. Pretty much every show on BBC1 today, for example, is fronted by someone over 40.
Yes maybe 40 was a bit young, over 50 is rarer though.

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Steve Williams »

Simon36 wrote:Think this one has been mentioned before by me but the white squares that flashed across the screen before each advert. This stopped around mid-1982 I think. It was very cool, never knew what caused it.
The idea behind this, of course, was that to go from a plain black screen to an image could lead to picture roll, so these break bumpers always finished on a plain white screen so the first second or so of the advert wasn't completely obliterated.

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Post by GarethR »

Brian F wrote:I would think that crossfades would not be used much in case the changing of every pixel at once would eat into the bit-rate and possibly degrade the picture on low bit-rate channel
If a director wants to use a crossfade, s/he will. Nobody is avoiding any particular transition or other effect for any kind of technical reason - it's purely stylistic choice. And as was pointed out earlier, pretty much all the techniques mentioned in the first post *are* still in use today. I saw a focus pull about 15 minutes ago in the documentary My Crazy New Jamaican Life, which was broadcast within the last week.

Thinking back, I'd say that things like crossfades weren't really used any more frequently in the past than today. I remember that when Graeme Harper used a series of crossfades in Doctor Who in 1984, it was unusual enough (at least for DW) to stand out and be remarked upon. Also, true deep focus pulls weren't exactly plentiful. Were they any easier to achieve with tube cameras than they are with small-sensor CCD cameras?

If you want to cite transitions that you really don't see any more, look no further than yer basic wipes. They've all but died out everywhere. They went first in cinema, decades ago; when George Lucas used them in Star Wars in 1977, it was a deliberate revival for the purposes of evoking a filmmaking style of the past.

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Post by Simon36 »

Yes, "wipes" was the term I was looking for in talking about break bumpers. I adored those. In the early 80s when I spent most of my time taping films with a finger hovering on the remote to cut the ads out, I used to get so excited at the wipes just when you least expected them. (I was only a tot, but I think that would still amuse me now.)

Regarding crossfading, it's just that so much mainstream drama now is so fast it seems hard to imagine something as leisurely as a crossfade in an episode of Dr Who. Glad to know they still exist though.

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Post by Mike S »

Simon36 wrote: Yes maybe 40 was a bit young, over 50 is rarer though.
Not really. Or, more to the point, I don't think fiftysomethings were particularly commonplace in The Old Days either - people just looked older.

For example, it's extraordinary that David Frost was in his 20s for pretty much the whole of the 1960s. In contrast, modern TV plays a strange trick - we think someone like Chris Evans is 'young' even though he's 47 (the same age Michael Parkisnon was when his chat show ended in 1982).

Genuinely young presenters are hard to find. Who are they?

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Simon36 »

Mike S wrote:
Simon36 wrote: Yes maybe 40 was a bit young, over 50 is rarer though.
Not really. Or, more to the point, I don't think fiftysomethings were particularly commonplace in The Old Days either - people just looked older.

For example, it's extraordinary that David Frost was in his 20s for pretty much the whole of the 1960s. In contrast, modern TV plays a strange trick - we think someone like Chris Evans is 'young' even though he's 47 (the same age Michael Parkisnon was when his chat show ended in 1982).

Genuinely young presenters are hard to find. Who are they?
I take your points here.

I guess I am thinking more of a sense of seniority for want of a better word. The best expression of this I heard was Billy Connolly interviewed on a documentary tribute to Donnie LacLeod and remembering presenters who had clearly lived a little (alot of the ones from THAT era would have done National Service for instance). He said "I miss seeing guys like that on telly." But I think your point is a good one, and that Frost statistic staggers me.

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Roll ACR »

Yes, I agree with Gareth. The things cited as not happening any more in the first post, do, indeed. The things that don't are desk wipes and DVE moves - probably no bad thing.

Crossfade - or mix as it's more likely referred to in the business - are still used. The schmaltz fest that was Corrie with Roy and Hayley in Blackpool used them ad-nauseum. I've done countless, perfect of course, focus pulls on soaps and dramas. I think transitions are subjectively rarer than they were, but still in regular use.

"The Charmer" is mentioned upthread for split screen 'phone conversations, it also used soft-edged desk wipes as scene transitions. All part of it's period charm and indeed a nod to the cinematic techniques of the period in which it was set. One of my favourite multi-cam dramas. Excellent work by all concerned.

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Post by marsey »

When I was young (late 70s-early 80s) news programmes always referred to freedom-fighters or whatever you want to call them as guerillas. Nowadays they always seem nto be referred to as insurgents or counter-insurgents. Sounds very 'American-ised' to me.

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Mike S »

GarethR wrote:The wobble-dissolve to indicate a memory or flashback is now such a cliché that it's impossible to use it in anything other than a deliberately parodic way.
Like a lot of cliches, I don't think I've ever seen it used unironically. Anyone know different?

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

Mike S wrote:
GarethR wrote:The wobble-dissolve to indicate a memory or flashback is now such a cliché that it's impossible to use it in anything other than a deliberately parodic way.
Like a lot of cliches, I don't think I've ever seen it used unironically. Anyone know different?
It's not unknown in 1930s films, although I can't think of a specific example just now.
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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Mickey »

The final episode of series one of "The Paradise" has several long, lingering crossfades. That show does have quite a slow pace compared to most modern TV though, so they have more time to spare. In one instance, a body floating in a river fades quite slowly into the image of the killer considering his crime. Adds a nice bit of atmosphere.

That would have aired last year, I suppose, since series two is airing now.

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Re: Crossfades and other things you don't see anymore...

Post by Bernie »

Crossfades and wipes seem to have mostly been replaced by those somewhat irritating "jerk-cut-crash zoom-jerk-fade to white for two frames etc etc" transitions. All good work for those on hourly rates, as they probably take ages to put together. Sometimes they work for me and sometimes they don't. That sideways flicker thing in Scandal is really a pain in the neck - or more accurately eyes.

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