Friday, 22 March 2019

An interview for NRK - 10 years of Slow TV

Being filmed during a Slow TV broadcast - courtesy NRK
I am sure we all know someone who can talk for hours and hours about something which enthuses and interests them. I am one of them, guilty as charged.

I was recently contacted by NRK to give some responses about Slow TV owing to the unique position of having made a documentary about Slow TV and, of course, keeping this blog (as a means to continuing my study of the format and developing my own inspired projects). 

Below are the questions I was sent by email and my rather lengthy written responses, a small part of which is put into this article (in Norwegian) which gives a summary of Slow TV so far.

"Could you first tell me how and when you first heard about NRK’s Slow-TV, and what your first thoughts were?"

I first heard about Slow TV during my Masters course in TV Documentary production in late 2013. My first thoughts were there must be something special or very different in this to make such a long broadcast a massive success; approaching from the mindset of reflective academia as well as a media student practitioner, it agreed with my gut feeling that documentary could be done differently  than the usual TV formula.

"Secondly, why do you think these broadcasts have become such a huge success?" 

I think the broadcasts have become successful for two principal reasons. One is down to the audience and the other to the production values.

A sunny day in Oslo filming for my documentary in 2014
I like to think of TV as a party, and the different types of show are like different types of people at a party. Most of it is based on stimulation. Loud, dramatic types. Types that bombard your senses. As engaging as they can be, you have to work hard to keep up with them. To me, Slow TV is the quiet guy in the corner, probably making a fuss of the dog without the need for obvious drama and soap opera stories. At first you might think "oh he must be so boring, not him!", but give Mr Slow TV some time, and he will not only help you calm down, but show you things you've not appreciated before. You'll come away from the party a different person as a result. Perhaps Norwegians are more comfortable about talking with the quiet guy in the corner.

Given that no other broadcaster has had the success with Slow TV that NRK has, there has to be something about the way it is made. To continue with the analogy of thinking about TV shows like people, how you treat people usually determines how the relationship unfolds and grows. If you predetermine someone is cheap, isn't really worth the effort, time, money to be who they are, then they are sidelined and likely don't achieve the potential in a relationship that they could. If you think that they're worth it, that you'll treat them with the same values and respect as others, then it's likely everyone benefits from it. Within the family of  types of TV shows from NRK, Slow TV has been given the same attention as sports, drama, current affairs etc - and Slow TV has been good for NRK and Norway in return. 

With Slow TV producers, Thomas Hellum and Rune Møklebust
 on Hurtigruten in Bergen
Norway and Norwegian culture have come to occupy a lot of my thoughts. I see a lot of reference to the Laws of Jante. I understand that some feel they keep people feeling down about themselves, possibly even contributing to suicide in some cases; I have asked myself if perhaps the flip side is the laws level the playing field, giving room for more people and the ideas they bring a chance to participate in and benefit aspects of society, perhaps Slow TV has been given more of a chance in Norway as part of this mindset.

Does a participation in a collective identity help drive
Slow TV's success? Courtesy NRK
Seeing the flag waving and love for a perceived identity of being Norwegian, Slow TV also makes me wonder if the Norwegian love and success of Slow TV is informed by Norwegian Romantic Nationalism in the collective psyche. A benevolent patriotism becomes displayed by those who spontaneously turn up in front of the cameras during a Slow TV broadcast, or that love of Norwegian-ness motivates more Norwegians to participate in a televisual celebration of an aspect of Norway. Seeing how enthusiastic Norwegians become for the 17th May, maybe even more so than Americans do for the 4th July, there is a huge love for a collective identity. Maybe the Laws of Jante which discourage a sense of individual achievement drive towards pride in collective achievement and identity. The success of Slow TV in Norway has occupied my thoughts since I first began studying it (in the UK some might call me very 'sad' for such a nerdish preoccupation) and these are some of my reflections.

May I ask you if there’s a slow-tv-production that you’d love to see? 

I’m not short on my own ideas and would really like one or more brought into reality. I have approached production companies in the UK but none are prepared to treat it with the same belief that Norway does. It’ll be a very occasional novelty niche show on a non-principal channel - not a national talking point and televisual celebration. It isn’t understood or conceived properly outside of Norway.

Come on, USA - give us a Slow TV celebratory experience!
Perhaps a major production in the USA would give a massive wake up call that TV can be done differently. My Slow TV Blog gets its single biggest amount of hits from the USA.

So, boats, drones and static perimeter shots along the length of the Colorado River through The Grand Canyon’s 445 kilometres would give a suitably epic Slow TV documentary experience of outstanding natural beauty, and like Norwegians do with Norway’s natural Slow TV productions, this would evoke patriotic sentiment of Americans. 

Slow TV journeys should give as close an experience to the real thing as possible. What proportion of Americans get to experience length of The Grand Canyon? Or people around the world? It would satisfy all the criteria for a truly ground breaking TV event like nothing ever done before.

So, if anyone would like me to be part of a creative team for a broadcaster making Slow TV, give me a job!



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Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The Hour - Minute by Minute

Courtesy NRK - The Hour - Minute by Minute
Happening tonight from 23:59 local time for 24 hours. Link in the text.

It's all about the time. "Slow TV" for the uninitiated can be something of a misnomer. Slow TV is about TV being in real time. Not about jump cuts, accelerated narratives. Real time.

Time's about to get as real time as it can for Norwegian Slow TV. 24 hours of a life-size digital clock, continuously re-assembled telling the time each minute.

Imagine the cumulative drama as the clock time increments during 21st March and builds through the evening. Compelling temporal narrative. You know how it will go.

For 24 hours, the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK brings this format back to its birthplace - Bergen station - where a team will be kept busy with the clock. You may recall the 7 hour train ride from Bergen to Oslo 


Bergen Station - The Birthplace of Slow TV
You can watch via NRK's linear TV signal inside Norway, or via the livestream and chat at nrk.no/klokken. This begins at 23:59 local time on 20th March, concluding 24 hours later on 21st March.

If you thought Slow TV was just a TV show, it can become a portal to a reflection on the very nature of time, an absorbing linear journey or experience, an exercise in being present in the moment.

Thinking about this relatively short Slow TV (a humble 24 hours compared to the record-breaking five day Hurtigruten ferry journey, or the Svalbard Slow TV currently in pre-production) it should provide a very real, experiential and active contemplation of the nature of time and Slow TV.


Slow TV - It's all about real time
It's time to watch the clock. Very literally.

The documentary - "That Damned Cow - Just What is Norwegian Slow TV?" is available to watch in full on Facebook Video now.

New to The Slow TV Blog? See The Slow TV Blog media centre.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Svalbard Minute by Minute Slow TV announced

NRK's Svalbard Slow TV Project
(stock photo - Adobe Spark)
NRK's record-breaking five day Slow TV broadcast aboard Hurtigruten looks set to be well and truly smashed this year as the Norwegian state broadcaster announces a major new project.

Svalbard Minutt for Minutt (Minute by Minute) will be filmed in August 2019 but NOT transmitted live, owing to significant issues with the signal. NRK usually finds a way to work around these issues, such as triangulating signals with staff on nearby mountain tops to get the signal out of fjords and topography which blocks signals from the ground. 


As an idea in gestation since 2011, you can be sure it's been thought around and researched - so instead, it will be broadcast continuously over nine days in February 2020 to mark the centenary of Svalbard's treaty incorporating it into Norway.


With the midnight sun still giving 24 hours of working light each day there should be a glorious glow for a sustained 'golden hour' sunset vibe for several hours each night.


At least 25 staff from NRK will be involved in the production, estimated to run at nine days, six hours and five minutes. Multiple cameras will be installed on MS Spitsbergen, one of the tour ships of the ferry operator, Hurtigruten. Hopefully the modified bough-cam with a rotating point-of-view will make a reappearance (last seen in Hurtigruten Minutt for Minutt). Drone footage will give spectacular views; all making for a multi-camera, dynamic experience but still a Slow TV journey around the entirety of Svalbard.


The Slow TV Blog will be keeping an eye out for news and developments for this and other Slow TV projects over the coming year.

The documentary - "That Damned Cow - Just What is Norwegian Slow TV?" is available to watch in full on Facebook Video now.

New to The Slow TV Blog? See The Slow TV Blog media centre.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Friday, 22 February 2019

Into 2019 and back up to Speed

Apologies for the break in activity in posts to The Slow TV Blog; my main laptop with most of my material to post here has been unavailable for a while, so I am working on other means to bring The Slow TV Blog up to speed again, pending a new laptop or sorting out the defunct one.

My documentary - "That Damned Cow - Just What is Norwegian Slow TV?" is available to watch in full on Facebook Video now.

In the days and weeks ahead I'll be adding more to the blog. And links to Slow TV of my own. Stay tuned!

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Slow TV is More Than a Webcam - #2

Outside Broadcast Gallery - NRK Monsen Minutt for Minutt
Image Credit NRK
This is a better view of the custom Outside Broadcast Gallery, as featured in this Summer's NRK Slow TV season with Lars Monsen.

You can clearly see the different camera angles with the set up on both back-packs, aerials, minus the sun screens. (See the other view here).  

Innovation, pushing yourself, overcoming challenges. 

I am aware that I may be disregarding times when Slow TV can be a single camera angle or a webcam, so I am reflecting on how I show that here.

But bear in mind Norwegian Slow TV didn't get established and make Slow TV 'a thing' without lots of thought and production quality.

Credit to NRK for the image.


New to The Slow TV Blog? See social media linksnotable internal links or to get in touch, the media centre page.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Slow TV is More Than a Webcam - #1

Boldly going where TV hasn't gone before - 
it's an Outside Broadcast Gallery, but not as we know it
Image Credit NRK
If I asked you to picture an outside broadcast gallery for allowing the curation of the best images and sound, and allowing them to be transmitted into the required media channel, you would probably picture a big truck with a long desk with faders, buttons, screens and lots of production crew standing or sliding around on rolling chairs.

This here is the outside broadcast gallery with two backpacks for four weeks of Slow TV with Lars Monsen walking out in various Norwegian wildernesses. Especially designed and constructed for the project (and I am confident  will show up for future projects).

The backpack with the canopy contains the multiple video streams from different cameras allowing the producer (who often walks much closer behind) to select the image to transmit. There is also the frame with aerials to transmit signals among the crew and relate the broadcast signal to triangulation transmitters on mountain tops nearby to get the images to the national TV network.

The gallery backpack and producer's backpack also have vents to help keep the electronics cool and drip-pipes to allow for any condensation to exit.

Norwegian Slow TV has required innovation to make it happen. We'll see much more of this backpack and ensemble in future posts.

Credit to NRK for the image.




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Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Friday, 19 October 2018

Netflix and Chill Slow TV #1

Netflix and Chill - Slow TV Northern Passage
There is quite a bit of Norwegian Slow TV on Netflix. 

Last night's viewing: a 58 minute overview of the 5 1/4 day Hurtigruten boat broadcast where a documentary becomes a national celebration, moments of beauty, joyful tears, thousands of uninvited but welcome participants, a phone call from the prime minister, a wave from the Queen of Norway, and a culmination in the fullest epic sense. This is one of the behemoths of Slow TV, if you get your head and heart around this, you'll get to love Norway and understand Slow TV a bit better.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Slow TV is More Than a Webcam - Introduction

What if I told you Slow TV is more than a webcam
When you know "Slow TV" by the qualities which established it, it's a frustrating thing to see it understood by so many as a single camera production, and that only.

Simple productions outside Norway offering less than the Norwegian high quality production and projects, give an unevenly weighted perception that anything with a camera on something for a long time is 'Slow TV'. And if you don't like webcams or long single views, then Slow TV must be really boring, really cheap and not require much effort.

Sometimes something very simple and cheap may gain dynamics of Slow TV. But Slow TV, well made, correctly framed in its story (yes, there is a story), has in its production quality something worthy of a major national or international event with the calibre to attract a massive audience. Really, really.

The Norwegians who create the shows which came to be called "Slow TV" require many people to make their productions, multiple cameras, technological innovation and challenges.

When Slow TV is given the proper treatment, it attracts an audience which cares about the subject, it relates a story, has moments of stunning beauty, has times of being mundane, but it can have such a sense of an epic journey which compels (the ferry journey and reindeer migration spring to mind).

I'll be posting many pictures over some indefinite time ahead with a short paragraph to demonstrate that Slow TV is More Than a Webcam #MoreThanAWebcam.

Prepare to adjust your perception accordingly and come down the rabbit hole to a new universe of understanding and appreciation of Slow TV done properly.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Thursday, 11 October 2018

NRK Grieg Screenshots

Back in June, NRK broadcast the complete works of Grieg as a national celebration of his music, The Soundtrack to Norway, some may feel. The timing of its transmission didn't fit well for me, so, I only caught a few minutes of it on my phone. As a lover of classical music and Slow TV, this was disappointing - anyway, here are a couple screenshots from those couple minutes.


If you would like to comment on the project or give some information about the pictures and piece being performed here, please get in touch.


Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Interview on BBC Radio Wales about Slow TV

A short interview on BBC Radio Wales about Slow TV in general ahead of the Visit Mid Wales #realmidwales livestreams on Facebook.


Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Slow TV Comes to Wales - Real Mid Wales

Visit Mid Wales will be doing some Slow TV style livestreams during October using Facebook Live at their broadcast platform.

The livestream hub is HERE on Facebook, and will be live 0900 to 1700 BST (British Summertime - GMT+1)

October 16 (Tuesday) - Lake Vyrnwy, Llanfyllin
October 17 (Wednesday)- Machynlleth, Ynys Hir RSPB Reserve
October 18 (Thursday) - Hafren Forest, Blaenhafren Falls
October 19 (Friday) - Mwnt Beach, Cardigan

I don't as of yet know if it will be single camera, static, moving or interactive in any way; I'll post more details as and when I have them.

I am discussing Slow TV on BBC Radio Wales Good Morning Wales on 10th October at 6:50am.


New to The Slow TV Blog? See social media linksnotable internal links or to get in touch, the media centre page.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Saturday, 1 September 2018

I Want Some Proper Slow TV

I really wish Slow TV was properly understood and therefore properly made outside Norway. It can be so much more. This is how I sometimes feel.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Thursday, 12 July 2018

NRK Sommer - Lars Monsen Minute by Minute


NRK Sommer 2018 - Hardangervidda - Image NRK
And so it has begun. The NRK Summer 2018 Slow TV schedule with Lars Monsen - this year it's live hiking in a number of Norwegian wildernesses. I love this stuff. Slow TV as only NRK do. More about "the how" tomorrow.

Over the next four weeks there will be live TV shows in the daytime. In the evenings, it becomes summertime from places on the road, in the same way as in previous years. It will be Slow TV during the day and show with guests, artists and audiences in the summertime in new places every night. Watch the transmission over the internet HERE.

"I am looking forward to it! Nature experiences are about a good time. Transmitting mountain tours minute by minute is simply brilliant", says Lars Monsen.

Once more NRK stretches Slow TV to something new, pushing broadcasting boundaries. The project manager is again Thomas Hellum, who has been at the centre of slow television, both by train and boat so far. And now by hiking.



NRK Sommer 2018 - Hardangervidda - Image NRK
Earlier in 2018, understating the task Thomas Hellum points out, "To transmit directly, minute by minute, from mountain areas where barely mobile coverage is mildly challenging".

Lars Monsen is keen on the fact that very many may want to go hiking with him and NRK. Could it be we could have a long time of struggling to light a fire with damp kindling? "In a regular TV show, maybe we only show five seconds when I light up a fire. Here we can risk it takes an hour... People will understand more", Monsen says.

Everything must be carried, too. While the previous Slow TV broadcasts have meant long journeys and far distances, everything becomes different when moving on foot and the equipment must be worn.

"On the map, our travels are only a few small lines this summer. Nevertheless, we will showcase unique mountain and hiking areas. We Norwegians love the walking culture in the mountains, and we are looking forward to displaying the Norwegian Mountain World as live broadcast television", says NRK Project Manager Thomas Hellum.

So, if wet kindling and televised walking in the rain doesn't dampen your spirits, brace yourselves for several weeks of Walking with Slow TV this summer.

Week 1: 12-15 July Hardangervidda
Week 2: 18-22 July Jotunheimen
Week 3: 25-29 July Vesterålen
Week 4: 1 - 5 August Indre Troms

Hardangervidda:

  • Thursday 12.7: Monsen goes from Dyranut to Stigstuv. 
  • Friday 13.7: Monsen goes from Stigstuv to Rauhelleren.
  • Saturday 14.7: Monsen goes from Rauhelleren to Heinseter.
  • Sunday 15.7: Monsen goes from Hein to Tuva.
Jotunheimen:
  • Wednesday 18.7: Monsen goes from Bøvertun to Sognefjellshytta.
  • Thursday 19.7: Monsen goes from Sognefjellshytta to Fannaråken.
  • Friday 20.7: Monsen goes from Fannaråken to Skogadalsbøen. 
  • Saturday 21.7: Monsen goes from Skogadalsbøen to the tent camp in the Flesdal valley.
  • Sunday 22.7: Monsen goes from Flesdal to Øvre Årdal. 
Vesterålen:
  • Wednesday 25.7: Monsen goes from Nyksund to Stø over the mountain.
  • Thursday 26.7: Monsen goes from Stø back to Nyksund along the coast.
  • Friday 27.7: Monsen crosses Breitinden to Guvåghytta. 
  • Saturday 28.7: Monsen crosses Lynghaugtinden to the tent camp at Korselva. 
  • Sunday 29.7: Monsen goes from the tent camp at Korselva over to Bø. 
Indre Troms:
  • Wednesday 1.8: Monsen goes from Rostadalen to the tent camp in the Isdalen valley.
  • Thursday 2.8: Monsen goes from Isdalen to Gappohytta.
  • Friday 3.8: Monsen goes from Gappohytta to Goldahytta.
  • Saturday 4.8: Monsen is a day trip from Goldahytta to Treriksrøysa. 
  • Sunday 5.8: Monsen goes from Goldahytta to Gálggojávri. 
NRK Sommer 2018 - Hardangervidda - Image NRK
Above information shortened from the main NRK post (in Norwegian) HERE.

Norwegian Tourist Board information (in Norwegian) HERE.

Many thanks to livnomes on Instagram for bringing this Slow TV project to The Slow TV Blog's attention, and also to Albert Solberg, also on Instagram for reminders.


New to The Slow TV Blog? See social media linksnotable internal links or to get in touch, the media centre page.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Friday, 15 June 2018

Grieg Minute by Minute, Opus by Opus

NRK's Grieg Slow TV Logo

Broadcast starts this evening, 15th June, 17:30 CET / 16:30 BST. Official website in English at this link, show page at this link and official Facebook event page here.

______

The countdown to NRK's Grieg Slow TV has well and truly begun. What will be the celebration of a composer with national resonance, "the soundtrack to Norway", is live on Norwegian TV on June 15th.


"Grieg Minutt for Minutt" translates as "Grieg Minute by Minute" and will be a chronological progression through all of Grieg's 74 opuses. A detailed breakdown of each opus is on the official event website.

If you're thinking "THIS CAN'T BE SLOW TV! IT ISN'T A PRETTY PICTURE!", Slow TV isn't just about a pretty picture. It's about taking the time it takes to show something in its own pace, in full. If that includes a pretty picture, well, that's nice. But it's also about a sense of completeness and allowing the subject to be in its own pace. If that's racing car quick for Formula 1, or snail slow for snail racing, its appropriate for the innate pace of a Slow TV subject.

A translation from griegminuttforminutt.no reads:

"Grieg minute by minute - this year's big TV event! June 15, 2018, it is 175 years since Edvard Grieg was born. We mark the day with the world's longest Grieg concert, 30 hours live on NRK!

A classical music festival in Bergen! Grieg minute by minute is an outstanding opportunity to experience Grieg's production from opus 1-74, performed by the best of Norwegian music life. Troldhaugen, Edvard Grieg's home, will be open throughout the event and a center for the big crowd party. There are also great events and experiences in Grieghallen, with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, choirs and other musicians. The Broadcasting Orchestra also contributes great music from Store Studio. Perhaps there will be touches from other parts of the country too!

What you now see on the website is just the beginning - a taste bite. The list of artists and Grieg opus numbers is updated continuously.

The program runs from the afternoon of 15 June until midnight 16 June. There will be night concerts in the Grieghallen, 24 hours a day at Troldhaugen and a folk party all summer night. Do you want a night of Peer Gynt in the Grieghallen, have breakfast at Troldhaugen with the wonderful cello sonate or experience the string quartet in the gray light at Nordåsvannet?"


Extensive and developing information on the performers in NRK Grieg is here.

The Full Works Concert indeed... NRK Grieg is announced.

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New to The Slow TV Blog? See social media linksnotable internal links or to get in touch, the media centre page.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

NRK Operaen

In April, NRK broadcast a Slow TV focused on a day in the life of Oslo Opera House; lots of good music, public participation, flag waving and no doubt, a warm up and test run for Grieg Minutt for Minutt, coming up on June 15th.

All images from and courtesy of NRK.




Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog