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Sinclair User and Sinclair Programs

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 10:57 pm
by PeterJ
I've often wondered why these magazines never included screenshots with their type-ins, where as Your Computer and ZX Computing often did. Instead they went for a hand drawn picture linked to the title of the games (some of which were rather impressive). Any thoughts as to why this was..

Re: Sinclair User and Sinclair Programs

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 12:25 am
by MatGubbins
The hand drawn artwork was usually more impressive than a screen shot of yet another UDG pacman/space invaders/city bomber/fruit machine/lunar lander or random number generator. Yeah, there were some good type in games, but most ended up on a tape never to be played more than twice, even after the hours/days of typing them in.

Re: Sinclair User and Sinclair Programs

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:34 am
by Juan F. Ramirez
I have noticed that the early years (1982 & 83), even the commercial games reviews in SU and other mags were illustrated with those hand writing pictures. Maybe the technique of including real screens were too expensive back then.

By the way, I've always wanted to know how it was made, I don't think just taking a photo in front of the screen were enough.

Re: Sinclair User and Sinclair Programs

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 10:47 am
by 1024MAK
I’m no photographer, but for CRT displays, for a professional photograph, you need a tripod, a good quality camera, the camera needs to have the correct lens, the camera must be able to operate with long exposure times (so that the bright raster is averaged and does not appear as a bright light bar), and a suitable room with careful control of the lighting (to prevent reflections on the screen).

I’m sure I have left out some other things...

Then having taken the photo, it may need editing. Considerably more difficult back then...

Mark

Re: Sinclair User and Sinclair Programs

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:10 am
by AndyC
Also there is the very real possibility that someone would have had to type it in to do so, if the program was submitted as a printout.

Re: Sinclair User and Sinclair Programs

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 7:07 am
by Juan F. Ramirez
I wouldn't have typed most MH BASIC lists and wasted a lot of time if there had been a screen capture of them, definitely ! :lol:

Re: Sinclair User and Sinclair Programs

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 8:27 am
by PeterJ
It's strange @Juan F. Ramirez because I always had the view (obviously mistaken) view the MH was one of the better ones for including screen grabs. Was it only the main listings?

https://spectrumcomputing.co.uk/mag.php ... 833&page=8

Re: Sinclair User and Sinclair Programs

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 11:12 am
by ZXDunny
A few reasons. First, getting a grab of the screen was a hassle - it wasn't until the main mags go going (Crash, YS etc) that the technique was nailed down - a large "box" that surrounded the screen and housed the camera, the right film, exposure technology and lenses were not cheap. The there was the colour issue - both for printing and photography was expensive.

You could always get a printed output and add that - but it would be monochrome, and if the game used a black screen it would be grainy/lined and almost illegible. So you'd end up with a wonky and inverted display. And as people pointed out, many of the games just didn't look that good.

In the end though, it was all about cost, especially in Sinclair Programs - listings were pasted into the pages as they were sent in (hence the different listing styles) - I doubt that the magazine ever even tested them tbh.

Re: Sinclair User and Sinclair Programs

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:24 pm
by Juan F. Ramirez
PeterJ wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 8:27 am
It's strange @Juan F. Ramirez because I always had the view (obviously mistaken) view the MH was one of the better ones for including screen grabs. Was it only the main listings?

https://spectrumcomputing.co.uk/mag.php ... 833&page=8
Unfortunately for me ;) the first 40 or 45 issues didn't include a screen capture. The first programs I started to type up were from issue 30 on.

Re: Sinclair User and Sinclair Programs

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:39 pm
by chip-fork
presumably the illustrators worked on other titles by the same publisher. or at least generally the magazine publishing machinery was bent to fit publishing listings. i think the magazine illustrations worked the way cover illustrations do. i remember typing in a mining game where you collected asterix that could be gold or gas or water. after saving it to tape I copied the illustration with felt tip to make the inlay. thus make it a proper game! if the graphics or other aspects of a game were too complex it would make the length of the listing off putting. so the illustrations also helped flesh out the characters and situations to the player.