Photo by Ian Collins, no reproduction without permission.
VT editor, Ian Collins, took a number of photographs of obsolete kit before the closure of Pebble Mill in 2004; this still of a Charisma keyboard among them. Charisma was a digital video effects machine which was de rigour in the late ’80s, early ’90s. It enabled complex video effects to be incorporated in programmes like ‘The Clothes Show’. In fact the style of series like ‘The Clothes Show’ were largely due to Charisma, and the skilled use of it by VT editors like Mike Bloore, who was awarded a craft BAFTA for his editing of the programme. I remember being really excited about using Charisma in VT edits, and thinking the effects looked really great. If anything it was used too much, and caused a reaction against multi-layered complex edits and effects and back towards straightforward cuts. Nowadays the effects look pretty dated. I also remember a funny story about an edit assistant, who shall remain nameless, going to a job interview and being asked about what he thought about Charisma. He replied that charisma was an important quality in a person, and meant that they could be inspirational to others etc. It was only later he realised that they were talking about the Charisma machine. I can’t remember if he got the job or not! The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook Group: Mike Workman: ‘As used by the Six O’Clock News in 1985 for headline transition wipes, what a machine – VizRT is not a patch on Charisma!’ Matthew Skill: ‘we had one in Newcastle BC, there’s a complete set of manuals down in the workshops in the basement of TVC. That’s all the info i have for now….’ Mike Workman: ‘there’s a few dotted around TVC that came out of the then N1/2 news studios when the News Spur opened in 1997’ Mike Skipper: ‘Their successor the Ten X was used up until about a year ago at TV Centre!’ Ian Collins: ‘Without this piece of kit, Clothes Show would not have been the success that it was.’ Jane Green: ‘Ian’s right. I remember racing back from the NEC Clothes Show Live 1992 with the rushes of the live show and using Charisma with VT at Pebble Mill to put the show montages together. The effects were groundbreaking at the time. Took the finished tapes back to Roger at the NEC for TX and everyone crowded round to watch and loved the Charisma transformation.’
I remember Charisma very well. On Sundays I had to edit a music item for Pmill the next day. We could just go in and see that The Clothes Show had done – and use it. Saved hours! Later, as a freelance in London I was in charge of deciding what post house Ghost Train was going to use. (about 80k worth) I picked a post house solely cos they had one so I knew what was going to be possible !
Thanks for your comment Viv – no point reinventing the wheel!