Watch BBC Explain CGI in 1982

How far had computer graphics come in the early eighties? "Tomorrow's World," an old show on BBC, shows us just how far the tech had come – and how far it was going to go.

In the span of 40 years, computer generated graphics have flooded our minds and television sets. It's possible that half a century from now we won't quite remember where it all began. How a spinning globe was the peak of 3D graphics, and it needed custom equipment to work. The machine is able to wrap textures around on themselves, creating a 3D effect.

What's happening here isn't actually 3D rendering. It's a 2D representation of what a 3D object would look like. Michael Rodd, the sarcastic presenter, is still able to wow us with a page turn transition. It's incredible to think how this would have been considered extravagant technology to a nation of viewers, when our smartphones can make short work of this and more.

Compare this to BBC's graphics today. Their election coverage is at the top of it's game, introducing augmented reality on set. Usually I find these kind of graphics to be tacky and poorly made, but now that the art has been refined, they're looking pretty sharp. During the Scottish referendum, Brexit vote, and UK elections, these graphics represented facts in a clear and easy manner. The presenter can interact and engage with the graphics, far beyond what they could do with a green screen.

[via BBC Earth Lab]

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4 Comments

Chelsey Rogers's picture

Wow, how cool to watch!!! Haha, takes two weeks to photograph the image, crazy!! Now you have plug-ins that do it in two minutes, or less!!

Ciaran McGrenera's picture

I miss tomorrows world! As a young boy it amazed me every week.

Ansel Spear's picture

I remember my first use of the Quantel Paintbox in a dedicated VT graphics suite in 1987. We had to repaint The Pride of Dover car ferry - still in her Townsend Thoresen orange - to P&O Ferries blue as she sailed out of the Dover ferry port. We were all completely gobsmacked! It took several days to complete. I can now do it in minutes in my back room.

Stephen Kampff's picture

That's amazing! Cheers for sharing.