Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Briar and the Rat! And an update on the technical side of things..

Madness sets in on the Island!

Saturday week before last was the day of the big canoe launch. Satty (Sar-tea), one of our characters, has been rebuilding his family's ocean-going Vaka for some months and Saturday was the big day when all the men gathered to help him attach the new outrigger to the hull and then put it in the water for the first time. It was blowing a real gale and neither Briar nor I were feeling top notch after bad sleeps and, I suspect, a little dodgy food. We covered events as well as we could and then headed back to our house to get out of the approaching storm.

It was obvious the rest of the day was a write off for shooting as the rain began, so it was decided just to try and relax. This was all good for me as my feet were in their usual mess of grazes, cuts, bites and some time off them sounded great in terms of getting some healing done so I promptly curled up and went to sleep with the relaxing sound of a tropical rain pouring on our thatch roof.

"GO AWAY!" I'm jerked from a wonderful dream (something about eating ice-cream while having a cool breeze blowing in my face and an ice cold drink to sip....mmmmm ice) to find Briar at our desk quivering. She had been writing her upcoming novel when a rat had decided to check if we had left our usual smorgasboard of leftover breakfast tidbids for him. Briar needless to say wasn't in the right frame of mind for enquiring as to what our rodent friend wished to dine on this fine afternoon.

Once I worked out that Briar wasn't been dragged off for an arranged marriage or some bizarre Takuuan ritualistic ceremony I nodded off back to sleep, only to be woken half an hour later by another shriek of "GO AWAY!" Yanked again from sweet, sweet dreams I didn't bother to enquire as to the issue this time and nodded off only to be awoken again and again for the rest of the day by the growing conflict at the desk between girl and beast. It came to a head when I was awoken by a scream and an almost tearful young doco director telling me how the rat, (obviously realising the subtle foraging technique was going nowhere), had leapt onto the table and pounced right at her.

Outraged at this attempt of rodent assault I immediately took action...

and went back to sleep.

Meanwhile the rest of the village had to wonder what was happening in Zane and Briar's house with her regularly yelling "Go away!" and the terrified screaming. Richard the anthropologist and our next door neighbour enquired casually about it the next day and I explained the whole giant rat versus tiny girl battle that had raged through the day. He seemed relieved and mentioned he thought perhaps we were having a domestic dispute... I dread to think how many others came to this conclusion.

Richard's advice was that when working at the desk Briar should hold a big block of wood in her spare hand and be ready to smash the rat at the first sign of its whiskery snout appearing. It'll be messy but fix the problem he cheerfully explained.

Other news on the Island...All the gear so generously loaned for this trip continues to work faultlessly:

Above you can see Peter Fullerton's purpose made wonderbox at work helping convert the island's sunshine into much needed DC current.

Solar panel city, ours on the left Richard's on the right. The house in the background belongs to Avo the Paramount Chief of the Island.

The HVR-V1 at work filming another exciting event on Nukutoa

Setting up for a shot...Our house is in the background.

The brand spanking new Sony HVR-V1 HDV camera, which I believe is the first Sony HDV camera to offer 25 fps progressive shooting as an option (making it the perfect solution for a 35mm blow-up on a tight budget and for dealing with difficult shooting conditions) continues to crank through the footage. To date we have shot over eighty hours of tape with no complaints from the camera which we've grown to truly love. The design seems really well thought out and the quality of the build is wonderful - everyday the camera is exposed to lashings of coral sand, salt water and wind (but loving cleaned every night David and Shane!) however the snugness with which all its parts fit together makes it seemingly impervious to invasion by these foreign abrasives. The pictures look incredible on the monitors we have here and I can't wait to see them on the big screen in the grading suite at Images.

Working alongside the HVR-V1 in a grand display of intercorperation intergration is the Panasonic DVX-102B DV camera and the CF-29 Toughbook laptop. The DVX supplied by Oxfam is our back up camera for the HVR but is seeing use when we need two cameras as well as acting as a recorder and playback unit for our interpreter to play back footage that needs
translating. The camera continues to make me believe that this is probably the best handheld DV camera ever made and it will be interesting to see how the standard def pictures intercut with the high def ones being caught by the HVR.

Me at work on the Toughbook inside our house.

The Toughbook on which I'm typing this blog entry continues to live up to its name. It soldiers on heroically in conditions where other laptops would just curl up and die in fits of salt encrusted digital agony, and in conditions where every part of your body gushes sweat the idea of a splashproof keyboard is very reassuring! The computer handles all our email requirements once we connect it to our (or rather Richard's) satellite phone and we connect to the web at the screamingly fast rate of 10Kb/s... sorry a hint or sarcasm there I can't really complain as it is rather incredible to think we can send and recieve email from this location especially when you look how little gear is needed to do it! The Toughbook has also been used to do some editing - we made a three minute music vid using footage we have shot and played it back on the village TV for everyone to watch. It's slightly bizarre watching people sitting in the middle of a thatched house street under a starry sky watching a sequence you've cut to the tune of an old beach boys track... Bizarre but nice. The locals seemed to like it...although next time they insist we use local artists for the music! The Toughbook is also acting as a backup for our digital photos and is been used for translation; we captured source tapes in then taught our translator Sio how to use the video software and he sits with the laptop and the freedom of non-linear editing and works his way though the tapes translating sentence by sentence... After all that, if I'm bored I turn on the Toughbooks’s GPS and just check the Island hasn't moved! ;-)

Okay nearly ten pm must go for my shower under the stars and then get to bed...


1 comment:

stickan said...

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