Computerized Christmas Card 1987


Yay, so after redoing the layout for Halloween, I didn't make any articles for the season. However I did pull off an entire month's story without missing a day. Check that out if you can still feel the Halloween spirit.

Anywho, let's try to get a Christmas one online since I yet again redid the logo and background to fit the season. Santa won't come unless you decorate properly.

So in December 1987, I noticed that there were 12 days until Christmas. Immediately I thought about the '12 Days of Christmas' and wanted to make some sort of countdown. Never mind that I was working on the wrong side of 12 days, but I ended up drawing some pictures and then wanted to connect them. I didn’t have any tape, or at least I didn’t have any tape - near me - so I went with the next best option by cutting slits in the paper and hoping that they would stay together in some flimsy dove-tailed joint method. That naturally didn’t work, so the next logical step was to computerize it all.

We had a program creatively titled ‘Draw’, and it allowed you to draw images and place them into slideshows. I drew one image for each day, and then used the program to copy it around the scene multiple times. I had no knowledge of pixels, so I wasn’t sure why shrinking the copies down and then back up again would result in blocky facsimiles of the original. Eventually I got them all done, despite flat out inventing some of the days, since I didn’t do any research into the original song. Everything after '5 Golden Rings' was pretty much a tossup.

The final production wasn’t just the 12 Days of Christmas slideshow, but also playback of the 'Jingle Disk' promotional animation. Back in the late 80s, tech companies would make electronic Christmas Cards and give them to their customers. Since my dad was in the midst of building computers and the like at the time, he had a copy. At some point it seemed that this video was going to be a gift to my grandparents too.

After the final addition of a talking Parasaurolophus dinosaur head, it was ready to go. My dad wired a video cable from the computer room to the living room and into the VCR. I sat next to the TV with a microphone in order to record the song as it played. He started the slideshow as a test, and I started singing away. After a few slides, he came out and asked if I was ready to start, so then I had to do it again. We really pressed record this time, and I started to try and time the lyrics to each slide. However as the days went on, each required more time to complete, and I inevitably started falling behind. I also forgot what some of them were and had to stall until I remembered (I suppose the fact that I invented a few of the days didn’t help). Only around the 11th day did I remember that I had a printout in front of me the whole time to keep me on track.

After the 12 Days slideshow, the Parasaurolophus appeared and wished my grandparents a happy birthday while the Ghostbusters theme played in the background. The slide happened to transition to the next one via a center cut, so I made sure to note that the dinosaur just got decapitated. Then the Jingle Disk program started, but we added a shot of the living room scene with our names on it. I drew mine in cursive and was very proud of it even though the signature took up the entire screen and looked terrible as it was drawn with keyboard arrows. Finally it ended with a slideshow of images that Chris made while he narrated it. The images were gooey, gobble-gooey, wizard and a scooter, car, tarantula etc… Then he sniffled for a while and put the mic up to the speaker to generate a feedback loop for the remainder of the video.

Here's the actual video. I'll issue a strong cringe warning. Sorry for the tracking issues, but VHS hasn't faired well.