Friday, March 02, 2012

Trade Test Films

I admit it; as a kid, I watched WAY too much television.  Naturally, I blame my parents, although they eventually kicked me out of the house when they thought I had enough.

When we lived in England, colo(u)r TV was still a relatively new phenomenon, and our set was only black and white (it wasn't until the late 70's that we got a color TV).  At the time, BBC2 spent most of the daytime hours running what were known as "trade test films," "trade" because most of them were produced by industries or companies, and "test" because they were used to test BBC2's color broadcasts.

These short films fascinated me to no end, and a surprising number have made it onto YouTube.  One covered an annual science expo in the Netherlands called "Evoluon."  Naturally, I thought it was quite futuristic back then, but parts of it appear quite campy now.  The music seems to be a mashup of Up With People and early Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.  See and hear for yourself.

 Long before I ever saw "The Graduate," I knew about plastics, thanks to a film called "Prospect for Plastics."

"Maria!  Franco!"  Romance and all sorts of other stuff at an Italian autostrada rest area in "Cantagallo."

"SIDE: Switch off - Isolate - Dump - Earth."  Electrical plant safety in "On the Safe Side."

A strange look at a few Canadian Maritime parks in, oddly enough, "Atlantic Parks."   I always remember the map at the end and noticing how the Gulf of St. Lawrence looked like the head of a wolf.

You'll be tapping your foot to the tune of "Cattlemen'" from "The Cattle Carters," set in Western Australia, a place that makes Nevada look like an oasis.  What is it with Aussies and the accordion?  That was the primary instrument in "Skippy the Bush Kangaroo" also.

I first learned about powerboat racing from "Ride The White Horses."  I remember the music more than anything else; it sounds like it came from a Folk Mass someplace.

I wonder whether the Top Gear guys remember "Home Made Car", with some pretty nice guitar work in it?

The travelogue "Britain" includes two semi-bickering narrators ("Tintern's an abbey, not a castle") and some places I got to see for myself, including Edinburgh and Coventry.

And if you watched all those videos (and their Part 2's and 3's), you must have less of a life than me.  Still, it's a great reminder of my childhood.