Tuesday, 1 April 2008

No Need To Shout


Picture the scene. We're sitting in front of the BrokenIndustries three-bar heater, flicking through the contents of some MORALLY LEGITIMATE video files we'd plucked from the binary ether, via the BrokenIndustries DivX-compatible DVD player. One of the files was a promo clip for a night's wholesome entertainment on BBC-1, from the days before John Birt got rid of it's hyphen in order to reduce the cost of continuity.

Right. We know there are better, slightly less tragic ways to spend an evening. But we're simple folk, with simple needs. And it was pretty much that, or Carry On England.

In case you've got your pointers hovering over the "Next Blog" button at this moment, be assured that this update isn't going to be about how much more exciting continuity was on the BBC when the designers had an utterly free rein to be interesting, long before they were ordered to do everything in Gill Sans Regular.

Lord, no.

Floundering as ever for something to write about for the blog, we'd delved into Channel Four teletext 'entertainment' section, finally giving up after a non-story about the Brit Awards non-furore, leaving our Teletext tuned to page 141. As we'd said earlier, simple folk (plus, our Sky HD box was playing up). You can keep your Facebook, as far as we're concerned. Lovely old teletext doesn't trick you into spamming all your friends every time you want to see which Simpsons character you are. But anyway, when trying to mute our telly just after selecting the above clip from our DVD menu. And, because we're hamfisted idiots, we'd pressed the wrong button. And saw this on our screen:

Oh-ho-ho, yes. It's Ceefax, circa 1984! Ceefax from the 1980s! On our 21st Century television! With quite a few errors on screen, but something pretty darned marvellous nonetheless. We had no idea DivX files could contain the 'hidden' teletext data. This is clearly this month's Best Thing Ever. Yes, really.

Overcome with a kind of rather pathetic euphoria, we'd forgot to take a mobile phone snap of more than one page. WE SHALL REMEDY THIS. Annoyingly, when we tried this on a different clip on the same disc, it didn't seem to 'take'. The same applied to the other files on the disc. Our uneducated guess is this - as everyone knows, trying to view the teletext signal from a standard VHS recording, you get a really glitchy, barely viewable version of teletext. But, from an S-VHS tape, the 'hidden' teletext data lines are recorded properly, so they can be viewed in full. The encoding process to a digital format manages to chop out the teletext data completely on recordings ripped from VHS, but from an S-VHS source, much of the teletext data survives the trip to the ripper's PC.

Lamentably, even though we've actually got proper, grown-up things to do every evening this week, we're now committed to ploughing through much of our digital archive, just to see what we can find. Be assured gentle reader, until we get to see Blue Suede Views on Oracle one last time, we shall not rest. Hopefully, it'll be one where Jon Homer does a swear. We all know what that would be, don't we?

Splendid. That's what.

6 .:

Anonymous said...

Right, now that we're past midday (when all fooling should cease, pedantry fans). I can applaud you on a job well done.

In reality, the hidden Teletext data lines are in the VBLANK of the signal, between the end of one frame and the start of the next, so MPEG-4 encoding would just destroy it as it compressed everything.

Mark X said...

Granted, the claim doesn't stand up to any sort of scrutiny. I was pretty much banking on people thinking "well, no-one could possibly be bothered making such a pointless lie, even going to the extent of faking a screenshot, so it might be true." I'm still saying it's slightly more interesting than newspaper articles about the stuff about Nicolas Sarkozy written under pseudonyms like "Aprille de Foole", though.

elcondor said...

Sorry, that should have been me - my Google identity appears to be knackered.

Paul said...

Bollocks! I actually believed that.

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