engineer

tim   .

                                                      


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.   hunkin

                                                         


cartoonist

 

THE SECRET LIFE OF MACHINES

SERIES 1
The Vacuum Cleaner
The Washing Machine
The Sewing Machine
The Refrigerator
The Central Heating System
The Television

The re-mastered versions of series 2 and 3 will be launched in May 2021

SERIES 2
The Motorcar
The Engine
The Quartz Watch
The Telephone
The Radio
The Videorecorder

SERIES 3
the Fax Machine
The Lift
The Word Processor
The Electric Light
The Photocopier
The Office

30 years on from the original broadcasts,  Norman Margolus sent me a version of the youtube versions, upscaled with Machine Learning software from Topaz labs. I thought it was amazing so then sent him my digitised versions of the films which are much better quality than the current youtube ones. Running these through the same software produced even better results. They aren't perfect - small text and small faces look very strange - but overall are a huge improvement. So while we were at it I added a short commentary at the end of each episode.

Its best to watch the new versions with an ad blocker installed on your browser. I don't receive any of the income from the ads but am unable to remove them because Youtube automatically detects the theme music which is copyrighted. The income from the ads is split between Google (who own Youtube) and the copyright holder. Its fair enough for Google to make some money, its obviously expensive to host so many videos and Youtube does provide a unique and accessible service. However, copyright law has become deeply corrupt. It now rarely supports the creative people who originated the material but instead the money goes to multinational companies, in this case, The Universal music Group. 

 

HISTORY

In 1984 my position as a cartoonist at the Observer had started to look insecure – there were a rash of new editors, each imposing some new feature on the paper, with the existing features successively squeezed. Fortunately I had written and presented a TV script called ‘Why Things Go Wrong’ a couple of years before – directed by Mick Jackson, today a successful Hollywood director. Through this I acquired an agent, Rod Hall. Faced with my insecurity at the Observer, Rod encouraged me to try writing a series for TV.

The two sides of my life - researching stuff in books for the cartoon strip and making things, had made me realise just how much clever human activity in the world can not be explained in words or suit the format of a book, let alone fit with the publishing fashion of the day. The examples of this which seemed most immediate to me were the everyday machines around the home that everyone takes for granted. I’ve always enjoyed taking machines to bits and trying to mend them. It was always frustrating doing my cartoon strip about this sort of machine – it would be so much better if people could actually watch the machine working.
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I wrote a scruffy three page proposal about washing machines and sent it off. Rod arranged numerous lunches with TV executives but none came to anything. On the brink of accepting defeat a director I had drawn an animated cartoon for, Andrew Snell, said he would approach Channel 4 with my idea. I heard nothing for several years, but with impeccable timing, he rang to say it had been accepted within a month of my being sacked from the Observer. I’ve since been told, though I have no idea of whether its true or not, that my proposal landed on Jeremy Isaac’s desk (the then director of C4) just after his wife had died, when he was struggling to use his washing machine for the first time in his life.

 

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