The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

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The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by MarkMoxon » Mon Oct 28, 2019 11:58 am

Like pretty much everyone of a certain age, I obsessed over Elite when it came out on the BBC in 1984. I pored over the manual, read the novella more times than I can remember, and spent more time chasing Thargoids than doing schoolwork. Just as it should be.

So the screenshot on the back of the box, which was used in pretty much all the publicity and reviews at the time, is a really nostalgic picture for me. Every time I see it, I smile, and when I saw this very image being discussed in this thread, it inspired me to try to track down a good quality scan of the image. I've always fancied printing a poster of this screenshot for my computer room, to sit alongside the ship identification poster that came with the game, so I set to work.

Specifically, I'm talking about this image, the one from the back of the box:

BBCBoxCass.jpg

which was also used in Acorn's adverts for the game:

advert.png

as well as in pretty much every review, such as this one in the October 1984 issue of Acorn User (which is where I first laid eyes on it and instantly fell in love):

au.png

Unfortunately, however hard I've looked online, I just can't find a decent, printable scan of this shot. Back in 1984, screenshots were photographed directly from the screen rather than just being saved out as graphics files, so the only images I can find are scans of prints of the original photograph, which itself was taken from a CRT screen with an old-school analogue camera. And because the screenshot was specially set up for the box shot (according to Acorn User), it isn't a typical screenshot from the game, so none of the modern action screenshots that you can find online come close to the atmosphere of the original.

I thought I'd found a solution when I took another trawl through Ian Bell's Elite site. The original Elite manual contains the iconic image on page 25:

manual.jpg

and Ian Bell's site has an HTML copy of the manual, complete with images. But look closer, and the image on his site isn't exactly the same as the one I'm after:

battle.gif
battle.gif (1.58 KiB) Viewed 1809 times

It's close, but it appears to have been taken a few frames later: the explosion has dissipated and the ships have moved slightly. It's the same story with the Electron version, which is in a similar vein but has a totally different set-up:

electron.jpg
electron.jpg (48.78 KiB) Viewed 1809 times

At this point I gave up and moved onto other things, but last week I had some time on my hands, so thought I'd take another look. Collecting together all the various scans and printouts I've found, I figured it would be easier just to recreate the original image from scratch, so I went through the original screen photographs and scans of the printed box, pixel by pixel, and built up a brand new image from scratch by looking at the originals and trying to work out exactly what the screen they photographed would have looked like.

So, in the spirit of giving back to the community, here is my version of the original BBC Elite box screenshot. It won't be 100% accurate - it's hard to tell where the pixels should be when all you've got are blurry CMYK prints and CRT phosphor dots to go on - but I think it's pretty close:

Elite box shot actual size.png
Elite box shot actual size.png (5.09 KiB) Viewed 1785 times

It's certainly crisper than all those 35-year-old printouts, so that's mission accomplished, I think. :-)

Now I just have to track down a poster-printing company who can cope with such ancient screenshots. If anyone knows somewhere that might be able to print this kind of thing at poster size - say A3 - then I'd be interested to know!

Mark
Last edited by MarkMoxon on Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by trixster » Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:17 pm

Great work! I’d love a poster of that too

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by 0xC0DE » Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:29 pm

Excellent!! =D>
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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by Lardo Boffin » Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:00 pm

Nice! Poster for me as well please!
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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by marcusjambler » Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:20 pm

I would love a poster if any get printed :D

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by Arcadian » Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:38 pm

Nice work, I'm actually getting some posters printed this week - so could easily tag these onto the order to save postage costs.

Few questions:

- what size are you thinking exactly (you mention A3, but it's square rather than portrait/landscape), roughly 297mm x 297mm or 420mm x 420mm (I'm aware the image isn't quite square)?

- what sort of thickness / finish? 350gsm would be nice and thick and printing on Satin paper would give them a fairly shiny/glossy finish. You could optionally choose to add lamination: either matt or gloss.

- would you want the image upscaled 'smoothly' (which for example would introduce some additional shades of grey around the white lines etc*) or as a plain 'pixel resize' (either way, the poster is still going to look very pixelly!)

* = note the current image has 33 separate colours/shades, strictly speaking it should only have 5 - again, if you can clarify your intention we could look at finalising a final proof for printing, which would include a bit of a black border around the outside, bleed etc.
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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by topcat96 » Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:58 pm

Any good for you?

1024 x 992 @ 8bit

Image

Tried to sharpen it some more but it went all blurry. if you look closely at the radar tracks, you can see faint lines beginning to appear either side. Should be quite easy to edit them out if you have the time.
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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by MarkMoxon » Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:05 pm

Arcadian wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:38 pm
Nice work, I'm actually getting some posters printed this week - so could easily tag these onto the order to save postage costs.
Oooh, interesting!
Arcadian wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:38 pm
Few questions:

- what size are you thinking exactly (you mention A3, but it's square rather than portrait/landscape), roughly 297mm x 297mm or 420mm x 420mm (I'm aware the image isn't quite square)?
I'm not sure - I've only just started thinking about it, really! Though I guess 297mm x 297mm was probably my first thought - A3-sized, but cropped to the image shape.

I've also been toying with composing a poster on standard A3, out of the screenshot and the cover artwork, like this:

Poster.png

Though I'm not sure how pixellated the Elite cover artwork would end up (I found the image on the web but haven't calculated what dpi it would end up - it's 1774x2603 pixels, so would be 8.5 inches at 300dpi, which doesn't sound too bad).
Arcadian wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:38 pm
- what sort of thickness / finish? 350gsm would be nice and thick and printing on Satin paper would give them a fairly shiny/glossy finish. You could optionally choose to add lamination: either matt or gloss.
Gosh. I don't really know, but I'd be interested in the higher quality paper. I'd probably frame it, so not sure it would need lamination?
Arcadian wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:38 pm
- would you want the image upscaled 'smoothly' (which for example would introduce some additional shades of grey around the white lines etc*) or as a plain 'pixel resize' (either way, the poster is still going to look very pixelly!)
I'd definitely want to keep the upsized pixels sharp, so without any introduced shades of grey. It's supposed to be pixelly! :-)
Arcadian wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:38 pm
* = note the current image has 33 separate colours/shades, strictly speaking it should only have 5 - again, if you can clarify your intention we could look at finalising a final proof for printing, which would include a bit of a black border around the outside, bleed etc.
Yeah, that's because I created the image by painting over one of the scanned images, and then trying to fill areas with black, white, yellow and red. I wouldn't be susprised if there were pixels in there with a slightly off colour, which might be a problem when printed. So this would need fixing, I'm sure.

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by MarkMoxon » Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:13 pm

topcat96 wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:58 pm
Any good for you?

1024 x 992 @ 8bit

Tried to sharpen it some more but it went all blurry. if you look closely at the radar tracks, you can see faint lines beginning to appear either side. Should be quite easy to edit them out if you have the time.
That has quite a bit of noise - using something like GIMP to make the image bigger but without interpolation might be cleaner, as you can go as large as you like without introducing any artifacts? For example, here's a 2448px square version, with a background, that would probably be better - this would do 8 inches square at 300 dpi.

2448x2448.png

Blimey, this is bringing back memories of magazine printing with Impression! :-)

Mark

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by Arcadian » Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:25 pm

This is a quick n dirty conversion to 5 colours, haven't checked it against your original image; do you want to compare the two?
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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by Arcadian » Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:26 pm

How about if I scanned the Elite logo from the poster identification chart at hi-res, and popped it above the remastered screenshot, to create a portrait A3 poster? (low-res mockup below).
Elite_example.png
I still have the hi-res scan I made of an original A2 Elite poster about 10 years ago ... that's actually one of the A2 posters I'm ordering a run of this week. Happy to send you one of these once they arrive if you like?
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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by MarkMoxon » Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:42 pm

Arcadian wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:25 pm
This is a quick n dirty conversion to 5 colours, haven't checked it against your original image; do you want to compare the two?
That looks spot on to me. :-)
Arcadian wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:26 pm
How about if I scanned the Elite logo from the poster identification chart at hi-res, and popped it above the remastered screenshot, to create a portrait A3 poster? (low-res mockup below).
Oooh, I like that! It's a bit more balanced than the one I've been toying with using the cover artwork. Looks great!

I'd be very interesting in getting one of these printed, for sure.
Arcadian wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:26 pm
I still have the hi-res scan I made of an original A2 Elite poster about 10 years ago ... that's actually one of the A2 posters I'm ordered a run of this week. Happy to send you one of these once they arrive if you like?
Oh, isn't the original poster on A3? That's why I was thinking of printing this one at A3 as well, so they could hang together and look like companion pieces. Not sure my walls here are big enough for A2 - it's a bit cramped in my retro cave!

By the way, thanks for all the help on this poster thing. I didn't expect it to blow up this quickly!

Mark

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by Arcadian » Mon Oct 28, 2019 5:06 pm

MarkMoxon wrote: That looks spot on to me. :-)
Ok noted, I'll consider it 'blessed'!
MarkMoxon wrote: Oooh, I like that! It's a bit more balanced than the one I've been toying with using the cover artwork. Looks great!

I'd be very interesting in getting one of these printed, for sure.
Yeah, the original artwork is really designed for edge-edge printing on a full, portrait sheet (note the bottom part of the artwork is 'flat').

Anyway, I'll dig out a ship chart this evening and will share a proof of the final design before ordering.
MarkMoxon wrote: Oh, isn't the original poster on A3? That's why I was thinking of printing this one at A3 as well, so they could hang together and look like companion pieces. Not sure my walls here are big enough for A2 - it's a bit cramped in my retro cave!
Original Elite poster was definitely A2 I'm afraid! I could look into getting an A3 repro printed if you like?

I believe the ship identification chart was (portrait) A3 however (will check tonight).
MarkMoxon wrote: By the way, thanks for all the help on this poster thing. I didn't expect it to blow up this quickly!
No problem, it just happens to be good timing as I've been getting various bits of artwork print-ready all day!
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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by MarkMoxon » Mon Oct 28, 2019 5:14 pm

Arcadian wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 5:06 pm
MarkMoxon wrote: Oh, isn't the original poster on A3? That's why I was thinking of printing this one at A3 as well, so they could hang together and look like companion pieces. Not sure my walls here are big enough for A2 - it's a bit cramped in my retro cave!
Original Elite poster was definitely A2 I'm afraid! I could look into getting an A3 repro printed if you like?

I believe the ship identification chart was (portrait) A3 however (will check tonight).
OK, phew, I'm talking about the ship identification chart, the one with the pink ships on it:

446762-elite-bbc-micro-extras.jpg

So that makes sense, as the one on my wall is definitely A3 (I just measured it!).

So, which poster do you mean when you say the original A2 one? I may well be interested after all, once I've stopped getting my posters mixed up! :-)

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by Arcadian » Mon Oct 28, 2019 5:18 pm

The version on the right hand side of your A3 landscape mockup (the coverart).
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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by MarkMoxon » Mon Oct 28, 2019 5:29 pm

Arcadian wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 5:18 pm
The version on the right hand side of your A3 landscape mockup (the coverart).
Ah, of course, that makes sense. I love that artwork - I'd definitely be interested in a poster of that too, though A2 is a bit big for my wall. If you could manage to print an A3 version of it, then I'm definitely interested! (If not, I'd still be interested in an A2 version, though I'm not sure I'd be able to hang it anywhere...)

This is going even better than I hoped! Thank you.

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by Arcadian » Mon Oct 28, 2019 5:49 pm

This is just another rough mockup, but if you're going to hang it alongside the ship identification chart, how about we replicate the exact scale/style of the chart, complete with 'overlapping' portion of the logo?

Elite_example3.png

Or would you prefer the screenshot to be entirely unobstructed? (Note, I did have to increase the distance between the words 'Front' and 'View' slightly in order to avoid the text being obscured).

(Personally I like it as it is!)
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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by MarkMoxon » Mon Oct 28, 2019 7:02 pm

Arcadian wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 5:49 pm
This is just another rough mockup, but if you're going to hang it alongside the ship identification chart, how about we replicate the exact scale/style of the chart, complete with 'overlapping' portion of the logo?

Or would you prefer the screenshot to be entirely unobstructed? (Note, I did have to increase the distance between the words 'Front' and 'View' slightly in order to avoid the text being obscured).

(Personally I like it as it is!)
Gosh, that's a hard decision! I love the way they match, but I'm not sure I can handle the fact that the screenshot isn't quite 100% accurate any more (it's all about the screenshot for me, as that's where the nostalgia kicks in). I'm planning to hang them next to each other but with one higher than the other, rather than directly side-by-side, so I think I'd probably go for not having the screenshot obscured, with the 'Front View' text spacing as in the original.

Though I completely agree that they look way better as a pair in your overlapping version, so it's a really close thing...

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by Arcadian » Mon Oct 28, 2019 7:46 pm

Ok no problem, I'll size/move the [original] screenshot down slightly so the image is untouched... :)
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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by MarkMoxon » Mon Oct 28, 2019 8:59 pm

Arcadian wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 7:46 pm
Ok no problem, I'll size/move the [original] screenshot down slightly so the image is untouched... :)
Thank you so much, I'm really looking forward to seeing how this pans out. :D

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by Arcadian » Mon Nov 04, 2019 1:00 am

Sorry for the delay, I didn't get around to scanning the logo from the ship chart until Thursday night - but, after Stew B neatly 'cut out' the logo for me, I've now been able to create a print-ready proof of the poster design.

See below how the final poster will look when hung alongside the ship chart (don't worry that's scaled down massively and the screenshot will be 5-colour pixel sharp on the printed version) ...

Elite - Side by Side.png

Unfortunately I had to get my print order in last week but don't worry, I intend to put another order in towards the end of the week/early next week so this can be printed on the same run (I'm also going to get some copies of the ship chart printed, in case you or others want to keep the original copy safe in the box. The added bonus being this version won't have creases etc).
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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by marcusjambler » Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:56 am

This is great :D
I'll definitely take one of each please

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by MarkMoxon » Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:04 am

They look great! I'd love one of each as well, please. :-)

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by mr-macrisc » Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:21 pm

Ooooo fantastic, would love them as posters

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by billcarr2005 » Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:51 am

Slightly off topic (for ELITE) but regarding posters, would it be possible to have an EXILE poster with the fantastic :wink: screenshot map and the logo from the box in the sky?
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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by trixster » Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:49 pm

That’s a bloody good idea!

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by Arcadian » Tue Nov 05, 2019 4:03 pm

billcarr2005 wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:51 am
Slightly off topic (for ELITE) but regarding posters, would it be possible to have an EXILE poster with the fantastic :wink: screenshot map and the logo from the box in the sky?
Do you have the full screenshot map at original size with 8 colours? If so if you can email it across to me I can definitely look into it!
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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by billcarr2005 » Tue Nov 05, 2019 5:18 pm

Arcadian wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 4:03 pm

Do you have the full screenshot map at original size with 8 colours? If so if you can email it across to me I can definitely look into it!
The one in the game help section

https://www.stairwaytohell.com/gamehelp ... ile-BC.png

is 7072 x 5856 pixels, each screen would've been around 320 pixels across when i screenshotted them from an emulator... I'm not sure I would've had any other file that would've been bigger (in dimensions)
Shouldn't be any more than 8 colours on that either :)

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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by Arcadian » Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:21 pm

OK ta, I'm just walking back after the footy but I'll take a look later tonight/tomorrow...
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Re: The iconic BBC Elite box screenshot, recreated

Post by Arcadian » Wed Nov 06, 2019 4:58 am

Is this the kind of thing you had in mind?

It's currently formatted for A2 landscape - or were you thinking larger e.g. A1?

You're kind of limited with regards to what you can do with the logo though, bearing in mind how little space is available...

Can you think of anything that could go in the top-left area?!
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