R.I.P. WGBH-TV’s TOCN – First Episode’s “Graphics”

When The Ten O’ Clock News aired for the first time in 1976, art was almost virtually traditional in medium. Except for text, everything was not digital at all.

The Character Generator WGBH used at the start was the Vidifont, developed by CBS, and was the first marketable CG for TV to migrate away from type written paper that required a camera, and with magic of keying, the text would appear on screen.

It was very manual in nature, and designing titles for same day events would be so expensive. You want to design analog lower thirds? Go to your local Michaels or Hobby Lobby, buy stick on letters for whatever the price, use construction paper (use say blue color), take your camcorder, and do a still shot, and use whatever you use to edit to “key” in that blue, and that’s where sub/titles came from. And for 1970s dollars, it would get expensive really quickly.

Even with CGs, many over the shoulder graphics were still shots with traditional artists or media. In this full screen, this is a still photo of some trees. For WGBH-TV’s standards, this was used in various fashion, till 1987 where it more of an electronic look. They did migrate to a Chyron III and IV during the rest of the series.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *