It was my home, it was my freedom. It was the only way I could get out of being stuck in front of a computer every minute of the day…it was the love of this place that got me through that.
– Ian Buckley (Royston local)
Therfield Heath has always lain on the edge on things.
On the edge of lockdown a p|arts project captured locals’ thoughts on what the heathland meant to them during that confused time.
The project brought together keen-snapper Graham Palmer, Royston-born multi-instrumentalist James Palmer and video-editing incomer Louis Holder, resulting in two videos which can be viewed at p-arts.co.uk/media
How the videos came about
Graham Palmer (the interested observer)
For well over a decade I have been taking snapshots – mainly on my phone’s camera – during my morning dog walk. The tiny differences on Therfield Heath as the seasons change fascinate me. I’m so lucky to have this small remnant of semi-wild grassland on my doorstep.
I’ve long wanted to share this fascination by combining my snapshots into a video (‘On the heath)’ and was fortunate enough to find two willing and talented collaborators.
‘On the edge’ was seeded during lockdown as many other people also found temporary comfort in the sanctuary of the heath. I decided to record their thoughts and try to take the same photo everyday of the edge with its prehistoric round barrow that has withstood many worse things than COVID.
James Palmer (the musician/sound wizard)
My role in the project was to compose two pieces of music that encapsulated the spirit of the heath, supporting the visual elements with audio that takes the audience on a journey through the seasons.
The music is loop-based, allowing for gradual, incremental changes and additions. Motifs recur in different contexts, much like the distinctive landmarks of the heath remain constant amidst the changing environment around them.
The pieces include samples recorded by Graham on the heath, of birdsong, footsteps, wildlife and spoken word. These are interspersed within the music in an attempt to give the audience an immersive audiovisual experience of the atmosphere of the heath. The audio was produced on Logic Pro X, making use of both acoustic instrumentation and synthesis.
Louis Holder (the editor/visual wizard)
The photographs were taken across a long period using different phone cameras, each with different capabilities. I used Topaz Video AI to upscale them and make them blend better on-screen. Most were different shapes & compositions, so I employed the 4:3 aspect ratio as a kind of middle-ground to accommodate the photos varying aspect ratios.
I still don’t know how Graham managed to capture the stills for ‘On the Edge’ from almost the very same spot – it made my job a lot easier.
DaVinci Resolve Studio (editing application) was particularly useful for working at these high resolutions and meant that Graham and I could swim through the edits at speed. When we brought in James’ final audio masters and married them to the pictures, we knew we were on to something special.
The two videos which can be viewed at p-arts.co.uk/media