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The Almighty Bug

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By Phil Hecken, with Jared Pike

A couple months ago, during Paul’s summer hiatus, I welcomed Jared Pike who shared a post with us entitled “Broadcast Throwbacks.” It was well received by the readership, and shortly thereafter, i received a nice follow-up note from Jared:

Hey Phil,

I’m so happy you got to use my blog post about Broadcast Throwbacks. I’ve updated the blog entry to reflect a couple examples your commenters mentioned — most notably, the WWE’s “Old School” Monday Night RAW programs.

The next time you’re in need of content, here’s a similar entry about the history of the “bug,” the on-screen TV graphic — how it morphed from pieces of cardboard, to computer-generated titles, to permanently-fixed graphics on both sports broadcasts and TV proper. It certainly qualifies as athletics aesthetics.

-Jared Pike

I kinda filed that away, thinking I could use it when I was either pressed for time or short of a lede — and this weekend qualifies for both. You see, I have a full-time day job, as most of you know, and that job is serving as the Director of Communications for a politician — one who just happens to be up for re-election this fall. So, from now through November 8th, I’m working lots and lots of extra hours, including an off-site all day tomorrow. So now seemed like as good a time as any to run Jared’s piece, which he simply calls…

. . . . . . . .

The Almighty Bug
By Jared Pike

My dad sold paving equipment in the late 1970s. Before his presentations, he used to warm up the crowd by bringing an 8mm film projector and showing pre-packaged sports movies he had purchased from a catalog (that’s how I first saw the ethereal Football Follies). By the early 1980s and the advent of VCRs, it became easier to just record something funny off TV — like Warner Wolf’s Plays of the Week.

He wasn’t the only one. Sports highlights were big business, and many cheeky producers would record and edit sports footage they had no rights to, and sell them as their own work. Warner Wolf’s highlight reels took a lot of effort to compile, and others were profiting from CBS’ labor. The answer? A bug.

“Bug” is an industry term for an on-screen graphic, usually a network logo, superimposed on a TV program. In Warner Wolf’s case, all of his Plays of the Week featured a bug of the CBS “eye” logo in the upper left corner. This would deter any potential copyright infringers from stealing Warner’s hard work — and even if they did, CBS would get the publicity (still pretty important in an era of just three television networks).

On-screen graphics themselves weren’t new, but in television’s early days they were pretty primitive. Producers pointed a camera at a piece of black cardboard with white text, and then faded it with the live image to superimpose a title (for example, during the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964).

beatles

In 1968, covering the Democratic and Republican conventions, CBS didn’t want to be fiddling with pieces of cardboard during live broadcasts, so they helped to pioneer the first ever digital character generators.

These devices became more and more sophisticated through the years, but they all had one thing in common: the graphics came on the screen, and then they came off. When did the bug become a permanent fixture of our TV programs?

According to this Wikipedia page, CBS began superimposing the bug on all its newscasts in 1990. They wanted business travelers to instantly identify a CBS station anywhere in the country. However, Warner’s Plays of the Week did this as early as 1985 — meaning he probably pioneered the era of buggy TV!

Live sports also played a role in the evolution of the TV bug. Originally, sports broadcasters only posted scoreboard graphics occasionally; if you started watching in the middle of a game, you’d have to ask your friends what the score was, or how much time was left. Scroll through this broadcast of Super Bowl III, and see if you can find any on-screen graphic, other than the clock at the very end. Here’s another example from a BBC soccer match in 1979.

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When Fox began broadcasting NFL football in 1994, they introduced the FoxBox: an on-screen scoreboard graphic that stayed permanently superimposed in the corner. Since then, broadcasters have continually pushed the envelope of information overload; compare that 1969 NFL broadcast with atypical NFL broadcast of today:

nfl

Now all TV has gone the way of short-attention-span theater. Desperate to maintain even the tiniest slice of brand awareness, TV networks put bugs on everything — cramming them with logos, tickers, clocks, animated promos, scoreboards, and in the online era, websites and hashtags. This was masterfully lampooned in 1999 by Saturday Night Live, in a prescient instance of life imitating art.

terminator

While we may put the blame at the feet of Warner Wolf, CBS, or Fox, I like to think that if my dad had just continued showing 8mm films at his paving conventions, none of this would have been necessary.

. . . . . . . .

Great stuff, Jared ”” and thanks (again!) for allowing me to share it with the Uni-verse.

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MLB Post Season

MLB Playoff Uni Tracking

A few years back, reader Alex Rocklein tracked the MLB Playoffs by uniform — you guys may recall this. Here’s what his 2010 Uni Tracking looked like.

Well, after a couple year hiatus, Alex returned last weekend, and he’s back today with the current tracking (the ALCS ended earlier this week, with the Indians advancing to the World Series, and the NLCS features the Cubs leading the Dodgers 3-2, with Game Six at Wrigley Tonight).

This weekend features THREE trackers: the NL and AL Championship Series Trackers (currently), the NL and AL Division Series Trackers (plus Wild Card Games – complete), and the full set of playoffs so far. You can click each graphic to enlarge.

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NL & AL Championship Series

2016 MLB LCS

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NL & AL Divisional Series & Wild Cards

2016 MLB WC-DS

+ + + + + + + + + +

Full Playoffs

2016 MLB Full

Thanks, Alex. Look forward to running the updated uni tracking until the World Series is over!

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colorize thisColorize Colourize This!

Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.

I have colorizations, or should I say “colourizations” today, from the suddenly (and awesomely) prolific George Chilvers.

George is best known for his football (soccer) colorizations, but today, he’s got one for the National Pasttime of the US of A.

Here’s George…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Babe Ruth colour - George Chilvers

Babe Ruth

Phil,

No write up needed I think :)

George

. . .

Thanks, George. Great stuff as always!

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CFUW

College Football Uni Watch
Some looks, via Twitter, at what you’ll (probably) see on the NCAA Gridiron Today

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Paul’s Latest on ESPN

In case you missed it on Friday, the annual Uni Watch NBA Season Preview, with all of the changes for the upcoming season (including the Jazz’s new set, shown here), is now live.

It’s a great read, so check it out here.

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Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

Baseball News: Apparently Charlie Sheen, star of the “Major League” movie(s), would like to throw out the first pitch of the World Series. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon your perspective), it’s not gonna happen (from JustinW8). … Even though the “even year” thingy didn’t work out for the Giants, we can still look back with fondness at this awesome zip-up warmup jacket from years back (from Sons of Johnnie LeMaster). Of lesser note are those flip flops. … “I thought would like the look at how Adam Jones, Chris Archer, et. cl. were animated,” says David Cline. … Here’s a look at the Cleveland Indians’ Home World Series hats. “At least some of us have options on stitched or heat pressed NE logos,” says Benjamin Christensen. … The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes will play their 25th season in 2017, and next year will use this logo on various items, patches, etc. (from Marvin Mejia). … Tweeter Dave Doop thinks this is a “nice sports themed military patch”.

NFL News: Check out this beautiful photo (from October 21, 1962) of the New York Football Giants and Detroit Lions hooking up in old Yankee Stadium (from Bruce Menard). … Here’s your update on the best selling NFL jerseys, by State (from Darren Rovell). … Of the Atlanta Falcons 1966 fauxback uniforms, Nick Holman notes “looks like actual helmet decals will match sleeves.” … Our pal Cork Gaines writes in Business Insider that the Los Angeles Rams have dropped hints suggesting a radical uniform change “that will make a lot of fans happy.” … The New York Football Giants play in London this Sunday, against the Rams, and the G-men will be wearing their road uniforms. Now, I’m not sure what the Rams will wear, but according to this article, the Rams intended to wear their beautiful throwbacks for their first home game and “one other time,” and would wear their white uniforms at home — although this is a “home” game, it’s not in LA. Does this mean the Rams will wear their “regular” dark blue unis Sunday? … Think you know Packer unis? Test your knowledge with this Packer uniform quiz. Chance Michaels better score 100%. … Not sure what’s up with the color in this image, (doesn’t the Seahawks helmet look really royal?), but it looks like those Seahawks will be wearing their “wolf gray” jerseys for Sunday Night Football (from SNF on NBC). … The Chargers will be in white over blue this Sunday (via Chargers).

College/Other Football News: Police say someone torched the Notre-Dame Bishop Gibbons football team’s equipment in overnight field house fire. The team was not deterred (from Dick Holbrook). And in some follow up, the community has really stepped up! … Reader Eric Wright asks, “Am I alone in thinking Louisville should do a throwback/faux back with these helmets?” No Eric, you’re not. … Hank Bartee thinks this vintage Truman the Tiger of Missouri is disturbing. … Check out this gallery of the 15 most jaw-dropping college football locker rooms (thanks Brinke). … What’s more coveted than a sack in NCAA FB? A jersey number with a single digit.

Hockey News: If you weren’t aware, the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets (no relation to the original franchise which relocated to Arizona some years ago) are doing a throwback night and wearing facsimiles of the original club’s unis. J Walker notes the goalies are looking sharp. The actual sweaters the club will wear for the throwback (played against Edmonton during the “Heritage Classic”) will be white. The game will be played this Sunday, and the Alumni Game will take place tonight. … In yesterday’s “hockey ticker (Paul) linked to the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush wearing Phoenix Coyotes-themed jerseys (to)night,” notes Denny Majeske). “Funny thing is, they’re not even historically accurate. A 2 second Google search shows that the Phoenix Coyotes jerseys from that era had a red stripe on the sleeve and waist, not green. I am friends with the director of media relations/broadcaster of the Rush and asked him if this was an oversight or if there were other, perhaps legal reasons, as to why it wasn’t an exact match and he had no idea either way. Seems like sloppy execution to me.” … Do you want to own some game-used Montreal Canadiens gear? Well, next Saturday you can buy some. … On Thursday night, the Philadelphia Flyers debuted their 50th Anniversary sweaters (from John M.). … Remember Cooperalls, the hockey pants? Well, if you don’t, here’s a look back at those (from Nicole Haase and Derek McCord). … The Lehigh Valley Phantoms wore special jerseys for Ed Snider Tribute Night last evening (thanks to THOM PUCKS). And here are the jerseys on the ice. … The Orlando Solar Bears will be wearing these jerseys today (from Dave Doop). … Northeastern Women’s Hockey debuted their new uniforms last evening (from Northeastern Women’s Hockey). … Last evening, Michigan wore jerseys commemorating their 1996 champioinship team (from Kyle Lenderman). … For one night, at least, the Red Wings treated NHL Unis as God intended (from Wade Harder). … “Appears St. Cloud State has switched from Gemini to CCM. Had Gemini last week in same template,” says Patrick Thomas.

NBA News: The Denver Nuggets are still were planning on calling their white, sleeved jerseys “White Pride”. That can’t be a good PR move. … And just like that, the name was removed from the website. … In the 2001 Playoffs, all the Hornets wore headbands as a symbol of team unity (from Mike Chamernik).

College Hoops News: Looks like the North Carolina State Women’s Hoops team will feature a couple pink uniform options (presumably for the tatas). From Rex Henry. … Apologies if this has been mentioned before, but here’s a look at the Georgetown Men’s Hoops uni sets for this season. And here is a look at some kicks (h/t Will Cosmas). … Kent Bazemore, a 6’5″ shooting guard from Kelford, N.C., will become the eighth Old Dominion University men’s basketball player to have his jersey retired on Dec. 10, 2016 (from Mike Chamernik). … The Drexel Dragons have a new gold alternate (from Chris Dougherty). … Here’s a look at the new Georgia State Men’s Hoop unis (from Doug “Bear” Hazard). … Here’s a good look at Marquette’s new gold uniforms (h/t E Brooks Uncut). … Looks like the Orange have a pair of RNOBs: “Haven’t seen this with names in a Syracuse Uni before. They’ve got a pair of ‘thirds’” says Tony DiRubbo.

Grab Bag: For as long as uniforms have been around they’ve served as a litmus test of conformity, and also rebellion. In this article, titled “Uniform chic,” FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology) NYC explores the power of rank and file style. … “Pink tortilla chips at the local Mexican restaurant. @UniWatch, Pinktober is getting out of hand.” (h/t Benji Boyter). … Here’s a look at what the Premier League teams will be wearing during their matchups this weekend (h/t Wayne Muller).

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And that’s it for today. Big Thanks to Jared for his piece on the “Almighty Bug,” George for the colourizaiton, and Alex for the MLB Playoff Tracker.

Everyone have a good Saturday — enjoy the NCAA Football and the Cubs/Dodgers tonight. I’ll be back with the SMUW crew tomorrow, but until then…

Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.

Peace.

.. … ..

“I told The Wife (an ardent Peanuts fan) that Snoopy won’t be on the blimp anymore and she asked, ‘Why??’ ‘Guess they’re going in a new direction,’ I replied. She snapped back with, ‘Do they remember what direction the Hindenburg went in?'”

— Jimmer Vilk

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26 comments to The Almighty Bug

  • Mangler | October 22, 2016 at 9:07 am |

    “atypical NFL broadcast of today:” I wish.

  • Wade Heidt | October 22, 2016 at 9:40 am |

    Enjoyed the piece on Cooperalls.

    Though only 2 teams wore them in the NHL, every major junior hockey team wore them for a big chunk of the 1980s. Junior hockey was outfitted by Cooper then. I think the QMJHL wore them less years. However, I’m certain every WHL team wore Cooperall long pants from 1981-82 to 1986-87. Lots of players were wearing mullets too.

    I do think the banishment from the NHL had to do more with fashion and tradition than safety. I mean, they had veteran players in the league not wearing helmets back then.

    The Flyers had also redesigned uniforms in the second year they wore them. A problem with the Flyers’ pants in that year is that they looked too similar to the referee pants.

    I wore both the short pants and Cooperalls playing hockey when I was growing up. Can’t say I felt like Cooperalls were incredibly more dangerous. I remember the newly introduced girdle offered better protection on the backside than the hockey pants at that time. Of course, hockey pants did quickly evolve. If the ice is fresh and you fall, you are gonna slide anyway.

    • Tom | October 22, 2016 at 12:46 pm |

      If I recall correctly, and I may not, a major issue was goalies trying to track pucks against a forest of black pants.

      • Kyle Schroeck | October 23, 2016 at 11:18 am |

        They want to increase scoring… Bring back the roller pants! Jk

  • Rob Z. | October 22, 2016 at 10:31 am |

    I’d love to see the Rams go back to the blue & white of the Fearsome Foursome era. But I’d be shocked given the current trend of whacky fonts, piping and paneled unis. Besides, outside of the Jets & Colts, no other team goes with a two color uni. I don’t see that changing.

  • Brent | October 22, 2016 at 11:26 am |

    I love that College football logo map. But TCU needs to be to the left of SMU.

    • Tom | October 22, 2016 at 12:45 pm |

      Navy also needs to be below Rutgers. But it is a nice map.

  • PrimeTime | October 22, 2016 at 11:45 am |

    “At least some of us have options on stitched or heat pressed NE logos,”

    Did you happen to notice if the heat pressed ones or stitched ones are China made or USA made or vise versa?

  • LarryB | October 22, 2016 at 12:49 pm |

    Nice work on the colourization George. You are good at it.

    • George Chilvers | October 22, 2016 at 2:25 pm |

      Thank you :)

  • Jimmy Corcoran | October 22, 2016 at 12:56 pm |

    It’s good to see Sparky on ASU’s helmet again. While I was at the University of Arizona I once ran into Sparky. I finally found out where the library was on our campus after being there a while. One day after leaving I was walking out the front doors and there sitting on a bench right there was Sparky. He had the pitch fork the devil head on, the whole costume. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t being harassed by anyone. I said Sparky, what the hell are you doing here? He told me he had a promotional event with Wilbur the Wildcat next door at McKale Center in about 15 minutes. Sparky was actually cool, I’m glad I met him!

  • mike 2 | October 22, 2016 at 1:01 pm |

    I would accept almost anything on the screen during baseball if they would get rid of the live pitch tracker.

    http://cdn1.thecomeback.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/94/2015/04/KZone-1-645×356.jpg

    • Rob S | October 22, 2016 at 1:14 pm |

      Let me fix that link for ya.

      Pro tip: Double-check the URL before you paste it in here and submit, especially if it’s got a number-X-number format in it, because it gets automatically converted to number-times sign-number, which invalidates the link. (Seriously, I don’t even understand why that exists.)

      • mike 2 | October 22, 2016 at 4:15 pm |

        Thanks very much

  • Oakville Endive | October 22, 2016 at 1:07 pm |

    I like the picture of the Lions/Giants playing at Yankee Stadium in 1962. As a kid, Giant games from Yankee stadium are some of the earliest I remember, the stadium always looked dark and monolithic, very much aligned with the image the television shows like the Honeymooners represented New York as.

    Have the Giants lightened the shade of blue since then, or is it the weakness of color photography in the 60’s?

  • Rob S | October 22, 2016 at 1:11 pm |

    I was going to say “Shouldn’t it be ‘colourise’?”, but apparently the Z version is equally valid.

    Those faux-Yotes jerseys do come off as a bit of a slop job… wrong shoulder shape, wrong number/NOB font…

  • Jedi54 | October 22, 2016 at 3:21 pm |

    Jackson State at Texas Southern looks great. TSU with maroon hats, black shirts and britches! Awesome!!!!!

  • Joe S. | October 22, 2016 at 5:40 pm |

    WVU blue helmets sporting musket decals as merit awards. Appears to only be on traditional blue lids. Looking great!!

  • Ryan M | October 22, 2016 at 7:27 pm |

    One thing that bothers me about on-screen graphics nowadays is that many still appear to be tailored to people with TVs in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Instead of pushing any and all graphics to the extreme corner(s), in many cases, it’ll still be floating in what would seem to be an unusual place for most viewers.
    This link (from 18 months ago, even) claims roughly 4 in every 5 households in America had an HDTV then: https://www.benton.org/headlines/hdtv-sets-now-over-80-percent-us-households
    The other 19%, then, even if every single one had a TV of some sort, is either getting their picture through a cable box or an antenna and converter box. Unless I’m mistaken, with the latter, the channels show up in a letterboxed format. If the user is able to zoom in to remove the black bars, I suppose that would put the “bug” in its correct place, but now were talking about a small minority of households in this country. Over 80% of households watch TV in the widescreen format, so why not adjust the graphics accordingly?

  • Chuck | October 22, 2016 at 7:40 pm |

    Why did the Redwings change their minds about wearing the Joe patch this season?

    • Rob S | October 22, 2016 at 8:26 pm |

      Maybe they decided to save it for the end of the season?

      It’s not the first time the Wings have put a patch on the shelf; back in the 2000-01 season, when the team was celebrating its 75th anniversary, they only wore their anniversary patch for a few games at the beginning of the season.

    • Rob S | October 22, 2016 at 8:42 pm |

      Since I didn’t find an article about it, I searched through the Wings’ Twitter account, and apparently they decided to just wear the 9 patch for Gordie.

      https://twitter.com/DetroitRedWings/status/788907960898560001

  • Brian | October 22, 2016 at 8:12 pm |

    CFB:

    Western Michigan wore a breast cancer awareness ribbon on each of their helmets’ sides today against Eastern Michigan.

  • Rob S | October 22, 2016 at 8:31 pm |

    Not a bad-looking game. I especially like that the Jets (wearing the John Ferguson jerseys) and Oilers wore classic-style jerseys and not Edge versions. It’s weird seeing Teemu Selanne in the Ferguson jersey, since he didn’t start his NHL career until the 1992-93 season.

    I’m still a bit disappointed that the Oilers aren’t wearing a new uniform for the actual Classic. It would be nice to see a white version of their orange third. Still, since it is a Jets home game, I’ll gladly take a home team in white – as God intended, as Phil has said. ;)

  • Rob S | October 22, 2016 at 8:48 pm |

    Okay, what the hell, Michigan hockey? Those ginormous collars with the lace-ups look like ASS! And the Wolverines most definitely did NOT have lace-ups in 1996!

    You’d think Nike would get it right, considering they made the originals.

  • timdub70 | October 23, 2016 at 1:19 am |

    Bugs are actually more than 100 years old. Movie studios put their logo into scenery, props, and the dialogue cards of early silent movies. The studios, such as American Biograph, were worried about piracy even then. There is an article that compares modern TV bugs with the ones from the silent era (you’ll have to scroll down a ways): http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/category/silent-film/page/16/