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ITV Schools was scheduled to move onto Channel 4 on September 14th 1987. It became Jim Stokoe's task to co-ordinate the move. Jim Stokoe designed all of the actual ITV Schools animations at Central Television, Birmingham, England. Working with Marc Ortmans (then at Channel 4, but now co-owner of a Graphics company), Dean Stockton (then Channel 4 and was Director of Programming for OnDigital) who were involved with the initial acceptance, but the animated sequences were designed by Jim Stokoe and Jim Chalmers at Central Television (now Carlton).

Jim recalls: "I edited the animated pieces so that there were various forms and lengths with a seamless transition (very hard to do in those days). The ITV Schools clock had to adhere to all the rules and regulations of ITV and ITC as well as gain approval from Channel 4. Remember, this was the only 'clock' that was "legitimately" shown as a countdown before programmes - believe it or not some companies had a station clock which simply told the time. Obviously, the music had to match the countdown speed."

Further research has shown that it was highly likely that Jim Stokoe and his team used graphics workstations of the time. Final development, according to Jim, was in a small room in the "depths of Soho" (London). Wire meshes were used in design and preview with the materials and textures added later. Those being Silver with the front bevel using cyclic colour scrolling created separately. Detailed information about the design i.e. system, software and company who created it are featured in the CGI Design section within the menu.

When a programme finished it faded into the junction or 3D holding device, which varied in length and could be up to six minutes long! To control this action, Channel Four used an automated computer system. Channel Four's Presentation department would calculate how many minutes and seconds were required between each programme. This would be all entered into a computer. The computer would then control the video player ( Cformat (1") and Betacam) and back-time the tape, which had the holding device proceeded by the clock to the required duration. This ensured that it finished at the right point every time.

The programme captions were then keyed onto the title bar from a Master Control Room (MCR). These captions were called "Astons", after the device that creates them. Eric Gill's 'Gill Sans Bold' typeface is the font for the captions.

Company End Caption > 3D Holding Device > 3D Sixty Second Clock


The original music was a library piece and not especially composed for the ITV Schools animations. The themes were brought out on the Music House International label and ran for about 18 months to two years before change. The interval piece was called The Journey (originally 11 minutes long) and the clock music was called Just A Minute (60 seconds long). Please refer to the Theme Tune section in the menu for further information.

So were there other animations attempted or another idea? The answer is yes and no. "Yes, there were other idea's put down on the table. There were in fact 9 initial thoughts, and there were five designs proposed, from basic drawn/photographic storyboards. Only one made it to full storyboard, and that was the one selected and used - probably to keep down the costs in order to spend the budget on what was going on screen. And no, there was no prototype. The acceptance process was very long-winded and had to go to various committees for ratification and approval," said Jim.

ITV SCHOOLS on CHANNEL 4 - 15 to 1
The idea behind four ITV logos was in fact to symbolise the unification of the ITV Network, coming together to supply schools television. "Or to look at it another way, the four compass points: North, East, South and West. This was one of the first times that the single thought that 15 companies could operate as one organisation had been incorporated into a design. The senior players weren't really interested in the rationale, only that it would work. It also meant that the brand was stronger when it was to appear on a different channel (Channel 4). That's why it had to work first time. It could not be renewed later," according to Jim.

So from 1987 the 3D ITV Rotating 'Holding Device' rotated its way to 1993. However, ITV changed its logos so why didn't the ITV animation get updated? "There were huge discussions as to whether there should be more, but [Channel] four was determined by the usual four points of the compass, covering all of the network. It also produced a more symbiotic design and looked better in execution," Jim said.

Independent Television is just that! Fourteen regions in the United Kingdom are served by fifteen independent ITV companies. Scottish, Grampian, Ulster and S4C Television generally used what was great about the ITV Schools service. They could choose to show their own schools programmes. This was known as opt-out. Certain times of the morning meant that Scottish Television (for example) could show a programme relating to Scottish Standard Grades.

In contrast English ITV companies could show GCSE programmes. Scottish Television could cut-in or opt-in to the network as appropriate. Remember, ITV companies took over Channel Four to do all this! Opt-in and opt-out were a powerful capability the network had. It truly kept regional identities beautifully packaged under ITV Schools. Something that is MUCH missed today!