BBC Breakfast News (1989)

Concept and creative process

BBC Breakfast was originally launched in 1983 and after a couple of relaunches moved with its BBC Breakfast News to a more formal, news-focused programme. BBC1 in 1989 was not on air 24/7, so this news broadcast would effectively be launching the channel’s output each day. The designers Patrick Bedeau and Maylin Lee (now Gouldie) were very much up against time as the network had already announced the relaunch to the press before they were even commissioned to design the new titles, so they had no room for failure. A re-arrangement of the theme music by George Fenton was commissioned. Patrick Bedeau had originally wanted the music to be written to picture. This was impossible given the deadline, so instead he produced a very detailed wireframe and storyboard as an animatic for the composer. So tight was the deadline that the designers only saw the master picture and sound on the launch day. 
The 3D animation design concept for the title sequence, with its narrative based on the idea of a ‘Global Clock’ counting down to transmission, was presented by Patrick Bedeau to Tony Hall, then Editor of Television News and Current Affairs, and the Programme Editor Bob Wheaton, who signed it off, giving the design team the green light. Patrick Bedeau recalls the making of the BBC Breakfast News titles. “In 1989 3D animation was in its infancy and London’s post houses were still learning, so costs were very high. I knew Chris Fynes, an ex-BBC designer, had set up his own 3D animation company, Infynity and invested in an AT&T Pixelator, developing his own software ‘front end’. We chose to ‘experiment’ with Chris, who we knew supported his massive technical knowledge with the mind of an ex-designer, but really his cost and availability was also key. We then embarked on a near sleepless 3 weeks to build and render the animation - the whole project took 4 weeks. For speed we actually made a bronze clock face which was scanned into the computer and texture mapped on to the 3D model. However, to get the accurate shadow to fall on the earth, we had to ray-trace a significant section of the animation, which was time consuming. Back then to achieve anything like the Breakfast News titles required team work. Maylin was a strong support and Chris Fynes and John Spears at Infynity got me to the finish line. The sequence is a tad brasher than I would have wanted but the client base was extremely happy with the titles and they ran for a good few years.”