Experimenting with film at the Nissen Hut exhibition

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The Nissen Hut exhibition gave us the opportunity to show an early rough edit of the film we’d made of Farmer Tony bringing the sheep in from the field and down the track into the sheep-pens, shown simultaneously from the perspective of the sheep, the farmer and the dog.

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There was a brick storage area within the hut that gave us a natural dark space to project the film into, directly onto the surface of the brick wall.  This rural environment perfectly matched the sense of place for the film and was made more authentic by the presence of the rams in the sheep-pen within the Nissen Hut.

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Their reaction to hearing the audio of Tony’s commands to the sheepdog on the film was fascinating – they seemed uninterested in the visitors to the exhibition, but as soon as they heard Tony’s voice shouting commands to Fly, they started bleating and staring at the direction of the projected film.  When talking to Tony about this later, he said that it wasn’t him they were interested in, but they associated his voice with the presence of the sheepdog and that’s who they were looking for.

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It was good to see the film projected into a larger space, rather than looking at it on a small monitor, as it gave us a chance to judge whether the quality of the image was acceptable and also whether the sometimes choppy footage could be watched comfortably for any length of time.  Our intention for the final edit is to show it as a split screen, with all the action happening simultaneously – and seeing it here has confirmed to us that this will be the best route to follow as, when one viewpoint becomes too fast and bumpy, another viewpoint will be static, so easier to watch.

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From talking to the visitors, we were pleased to hear that they quickly understood which viewpoint they were looking at – working this out from seeing the dog’s ears in shot or the sheep’s chin, both of these being very good indicators!

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Occasionally the farmer’s hands are seen, clapping or waving to get the sheep moving and the voice commands and sheep baa-ing are also captured on the audio.  Our intention when filming was to try and represent the interaction between the farmer, the sheep and the dog and we’re really pleased that this has seemed to come across – even in this rough edit.  The next stage is to take it to Somerset Film and Video in Bridgwater, who are helping us with editing the final version to be shown at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in September.

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