Thursday, 23 April 2020

The Slow TV Podcast - NRK Producers Part 2

Here is The Slow TV Podcast, being pushed out from the ferry terminal in Bergen. I start off over the next few weeks mainly with NRK staff in Norway whom I interviewed in 2014. This is part one of a longer interview. I have several hours of interviews recorded on video, and only soundbites used in the documentary. So, in true Slow TV style, I can bring (almost) the whole thing.

This interview is with Thomas Hellum and Rune Møklebust, two of the creators and producers of Slow TV from NRK Hordaland in Bergen, Norway. Part one is here.

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

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

The Wetland Project - Earth Day 2020

Slow Radio for Earth Day 2020
For Earth Day 2020 I'm pleased once again to host sound from Brady Marks and Mark Timmings, from Saturna Island off the mainland of south west Canada.
The Wetland Project Slow Radio Broadcast takes place for 24 hours on Earth Day (Wednesday, April 22). Besides this podcast, listeners can stream the soundscape in sync with their local time from anywhere in the world at You can also tweet @wetlandproject to add your voice to the interactive online stream.

In this podcast, artists Brady Marks and Mark Timmings re-create the seminal broadcast Soundscapes of Canada (Program 5: Summer Solstice, excerpts from a 24-hour field recording documenting the daily cycles of the natural soundscape), an experimental radio production by the World Soundscape Project that premiered on CBC Radio’s Ideas program in 1974. For Marks and Timmings the inspiration lies in a tiny bit of Earth and the beautiful and complex sounds that emanate from it: the ṮEḴTEḴSEN marsh in the traditional and unceded territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations on Saturna Island, British Columbia, recorded on Earth Day 2016. The sonic phenomena produced by this little wetland — not unlike other wetlands around the world—tend toward inexhaustibility and infinity, but sadly also toward extinction. The Wetland Project commemorates the 50-year anniversary of the founding of the World Soundscape Project (WSP) by Canadian writer and composer R. Murray Schafer. WSP members initiated the discipline of Acoustic Ecology by studying, through active listening, the relationship between humans and their environment. Created and produced by Brady Marks and Mark Timmings Sound recording engineer: Eric Lamontagne 2017 (58:16 min)

Created and produced by Brady Marks and Mark Timmings
Sound recording engineer: Eric Lamontagne
2017 (58:16 min)

Thursday, 16 April 2020

The Slow TV Podcast - NRK Producers Part 1

Here is The Slow TV Podcast, being pushed out from the ferry terminal in Bergen. I start off over the next few weeks mainly with NRK staff in Norway whom I interviewed in 2014. I have several hours of interviews recorded on video, and only soundbites used in the documentary. So, in true Slow TV style, I can bring (almost) the whole thing.

This interview is with Thomas Hellum and Rune Møklebust, two of the creators and producers of Slow TV from NRK Hordaland in Bergen, Norway. Part two is here.

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

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Friday, 31 January 2020

Watch Svalbard Slow TV right here

Sadly, the Svalbard Minute by Minute Slow TV broadcast has now ceased

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, 3 January 2020

Epic Svalbard Slow TV arriving 31st January

NRK's Svalbard Slow TV Project
(stock photo)
NRK's record-breaking five day Slow TV broadcast aboard Hurtigruten will be well and truly smashed this year as the Norwegian state broadcaster airs a new project, starting on 31st January, finishing (we reckon) on 9th February, which is the centenary of the Svalbard Treaty.

Svalbard Minutt for Minutt (Minute by Minute) was 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 of a live play out, the recording will be broadcast continuously over nine days, starting 31st January 2020, ending to mark the centenary of the signing of The Svalbard's Treaty, eventually incorporating it into Norway.

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

Around 25 staff from NRK were involved in the production, estimated to run at nine days, six hours and five minutes. Multiple cameras were 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 made 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 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

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Slow TV Pole to Pole in 2020

News reached The Slow TV blog last night of an exciting Slow TV project, which, assuming it happens in 2020, would make it a year when both of our Planet's polar regions would be covered by our much loved format.

We know of NRK's epic 9 day Svalbard project, well inside the Arctic Circle, in production this year.

Well, for a themed pair,Greenstone TV (who filmed the 12 hour Go South Slow TV), funded by NZ on Air, will be doing a (completely separate) Slow TV project from Antarctica. Exact details unknown, but we'll be bringing them here as soon as we know more!

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Monday, 7 October 2019

Slowbart - an Ambient Film Program in Hobart

We've had The Ghan from the Australian mainland, Go South from New Zealand - now it's time for a complete set from the continent with some Slow TV from Tasmania.
Aurora Australis image courtesy of Ian Stewart
Slowbart, a play on the capital's name, Hobart, and its apparent reputation as a principal city with a more mellow lifestyle, is happening at The Loop, a digital art platform for the city.
It's a special point of interest that the program is being touted as 'ambient film' - something which Slow TV can be, but not often recognised as by audiences and media commentators. It's like ambient music - immerse into it, or use it as a sensory wallpaper.
The press release from The University of Tasmania reads:
"Unseen perspectives of life in Hobart are set to be revealed in a new creative initiative in the heart of the city.
Slowbart: An ambient film program kicks off this evening and will screen daily for three months, 8am–8pm at The Loop public courtyard at 157 Elizabeth Street.
“Hobart has an easy-going and serene atmosphere that’s unusual for a capital city. The films curated for Slowbart will reveal unusual views of Hobart and our surrounds through the eyes of many creative residents,” University of Tasmania Head of Media Dr Claire Konkes said.
“The films have been curated in the genre of ‘Slow TV’ to show gradually unfolding moments and experiences, designed to be enjoyed by audiences as they wait, pass by, or settle in for the feature films.”
Slowbart curators and emerging filmmakers Victoria Bremner and Heath Willis (pictured) developed the Slowbart film concept while interning at the City of Hobart as part of their media studies at the University of Tasmania.
“We encouraged filmmakers, artists and content makers of all kinds to scour their hard drives, delve into the depths of their filing cabinets and check under their beds to contribute imagery and film for the program,” Ms Bremner said.
“After viewing it all I carefully selected footage to produce The Hour of Power, a one-hour long presentation of short film, animation and documentary, which will be screened each lunchtime until late December.”
The program’s feature film Slowbart: An ambient film was also produced from local contributions and scored to original music by emerging composer Finn Clarke. The film is curated by Heath Willis with support from Fraser Johnston of Spectral Media.
“This creative partnership has brought together filmmakers who have sought to capture what makes Hobart unique as a capital city,” Hobart Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds said.
“We are so lucky to live in a city that is surrounded by nature and which provides us with so many opportunities to slow down and appreciate what we have. I congratulate the curators and contributors for bringing this film initiative to life.”
Slowbart: An ambient film program will be officially opened by Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds and Dr Meg Keating (Head of School, Media and Creative Arts, University of Tasmania) today, 5:30–6:30pm at The Loop, 157 Elizabeth street, Hobart. Slowbart: an ambient film and The Hour of Power will be screened at the launch.
The Loop is an initiative of the City of Hobart through the Creative Hobart strategy in partnership with the University of Tasmania. The schedule is available at"
Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Friday, 4 October 2019

Filmmaker Friday No 1 - Train and Cress

Each Friday I'd like to highlight two or three Slow TV or Slow-TV-Style videos made by individuals without the budget, tech and staff of a big production company or national network.

The first is the driver's view from the Ichibata Electric Railway, by World of Transit:

The second is a timelapse of cress growing, sped up into an hour with an ambient soundtrack, by Neil Donoghue:

If you'd like to share a video, join the Facebook Group, Slow TV Fans, Thinkers and FilmmakersNew to The Slow TV Blog? See social media linksnotable internal links or to get in touch, the media centre page.

Slow TV - The Slow TV Blog

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Svalbard Slow TV for 100 Years of Svalbard Treaty

Admittedly, The Slow TV Blog has been rather focussed on offline matters the last few months - even so, we've had our nets cast far and wide to keep abreast of key developments, and the hush about the NRK filming of Svalbard for the Svalbard Treaty Centenary next February has been maintained.

We've monitored a few key phrases and people and all have kept admirably stumm. So, one assumes the filming for prerecording has actually happened...

We'll give a post as soon as we know anything more to shout about. Or if you know something you can share, please get in touch.
Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Go South - Slow TV in New Zealand

Go South - Slow TV in New Zealand
Courtesy Greenstone TV / Prime
Broadcast on 1st January 2019, this 12 hour road-trip is New Zealand's first foray into Slow TV. A 3 hour long edit was broadcast a few weeks later. A 3 DVD of 12 hours at a cost of $35 (NZ) is available at the time of writing by contacting Greenstone TV directly.

"An extraordinary journey. The vast overland route from Auckland to the deep south is a part of our national identity, an iconic piece of Kiwiana. A journey where city and sprawl gently yields to rolling pastures, volcanic extremes, tranquil waterways, the rough Otago high country and the grandeur of the Southern Alps and Milford Sound."

Courtesy of Prime Catch Up

GO SOUTH Promo from Greenstone TV on Vimeo.

A Q&A with Spencer Stoner, Producer of Go South:
"How do you explain Go South to someone who is not familiar with the concept?
Go South is an almost real-time journey from Auckland to Milford Sound, traveling overland. Internationally, there has been a lot of excitement around TV that moves at a slower pace and watches things unfold in real time. This is a New Zealand take on that approach, made with New Zealand audiences in mind. It's this iconic, epic road trip with rail, boats, and a Land Rover that takes you from the big smoke to land's end. No voiceover, no music, just the sound of the rails, water, or road. It's also full of tidbits about the hidden history around us, from the reef that sank the Wahine to Te Kooti's hideouts in the King Country. Think of it as traveling the country tail to tip with your closest friends and family, and that's a good approximation for what watching Go South is like!
How long did the journey take to film?
If you were to take this trip yourself, it would take 40 hours straight (without sleeping). That's similar to the experience you get watching the Go South, but it took our team about two weeks in the field to take the journey. For example, we had to take short days while filming in the Land Rover. They're great to drive, but not designed for a road trip of four grown men plus a ton of camera gear. In the West Coast, the team was having to hop out of the Land Rover every 500 metres to wipe the lenses down from bug strikes. In Fiordland, the team was having to hop out every 500 metres to wipe the lenses down from rain. It was a stunning itinerary, but not exactly the quickest way to get from A to Z
More of this interview, courtesy of Prime TV, on the Prime TV website.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Slow TV DVD review - ploughing ahead in ambient Slow TV

Summer Isle Films - The Plough
#WatchItWednesday This post, first published 14th January 2016, concerns a well-made single camera Slow TV production. The website still lists the product - and as a lower-end production Slow TV, I feel it's worth recommending.

A film company in Suffolk has produced a very interesting Slow TV DVD, which for a single-camera piece of filming has really quite surprised me.

Just an hour long “The Plough” from Summer Isle Films is just a really good concept in a simple, ambient TV exploration. A problem with single camera views is that they can tend to remain the same for too long and make you lose interest. Slow TV is Slow TV - not static TV. An adage attributed to Confucius says “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” I reckon that’s a very appropriate thing to bear in mind with Slow TV.

Confucius say...
There needs to be something going on in real time to keep any sense of a hook into a would-be viewer - even if it’s the occasional glance to see what’s changed. If nothing has changed, what’s the point in following the screen? Small stories and subtle yet observable changes are imperative. The Plough does just this.

The chosen subject of the film allows constant, slow movement, which while repetitive, is different on each repeat. There is steady, observable progress. The framing of the activity is the same but because it is happening over real time, there are organic changes within that framing and natural timeline.

Summer Isle Films - The Plough
The information given by text on the image was neither too frequent, nor too rushed nor too obtrusive. Unlike the text-bubbles on the BBC Sleigh Ride, it doesn’t pull you out of the flow of the image for an image-based Slow TV. It isn’t trying to do too much whilst being enough.

Now, I don’t wish to ruin the plot or spoil the drama, but here are things I’ve enjoyed noticing on watching The Plough:
  • The fixed relation of the plough apparatus in relation to the camera whilst ploughing gave a pleasing constant by which to observe all the other changing dynamics. Which means when the plough changes side at each of the field it becomes something of a visual event.
  • The way the new plough line bisects the previous year’s harvest lines of crop stubble, it has a ‘screensaver effect’ for me. I find my eyes are drawn into the lines on each alternate plough of the field.
  • There’s a mass of cloud which gradually covers the sun and then moves out of the way again, allowing the sun to bathe the field in increasingly golden light, especially over the final 20 minutes. My photographer’s eye would like it to be unbroken sunshine throughout for that ‘golden-hour’ look - but alternatively, the sun to cloud to sun gives further parameters of change.
  • The lifting of the plough at either end of the field feels like a paragraph break, you see soil fall off as the orientation is changed, sometimes the sun glints in the blades. This is surprising as you’d think the blades would be dulled by the soil.
  • The lining up of the plough line with the wheels is admirable; I know some tractors use satellite technology to fine tune their alignment, but for anyone who’s ever tried lining up a lawnmower to get that perfect balance for overlap but not so much it’s extra work and not too little that little islands of areas don’t get covered. Admirable stuff.
  • I found myself trying to compare the line of ploughing using the hedges and pylons to the rear of the tractor as gauges. There is progress over the hour. Obviously. But it’s fun to notice it.
  • How many times does the plough change direction? Eventually I’ll work that out. There’s a constant pace, so, assuming a uniform width of the field, timing one length and the turn around, then dividing an hour by that should give the number of strokes required.
  • The gulls following the ploughing were interesting, thinking about the poor worms and bugs freshly exposed for consumption. Anyone who’s dug a garden will have seen a robin following their work in just the same manner. This kind of thing has been going on since the Neolithic at least. Working with the soil is a very physical thing, but it's also profoundly spiritual, very connecting - food, life, dependency, interdependency, cycle of the seasons, movement of the earth, the need for sun and rain in balance, new life, death, rebirth. Ploughing isn't just about ploughing. Go meditate!
  • The tree lines receding were pleasing, gently coaxing the eye into the distance. Like being able to look behind on a car journey or a rear facing seat on a train. 
  • There’s a road at one end of the field - you even see a double decker bus go past at point, in the distance.
Summer Isle Films - The Plough
Only two quibbles. My first would be on image stabilisation. There is a very slight vibration which while not distracting, would be something I would work on. Having done some Slow TV filming with a Go Pro myself, I rejected using a lot of my own footage due to vibration during movement. Don’t let that be a put off, though, for The Plough remains an engaging ambient TV trip.

My other quibble, is why not film the ploughing of a whole field? Slow TV has a sense of completeness when it encompasses an activity or journey all the way through. Like the BBC Sleigh Ride, The Plough picks up midway through a journey and leaves before the job is done. Let’s have the satisfaction of going all the way.

Summer Isle Films - The Plough
The back cover of the DVD informs us that "The Plough is the first in a series of films called 'Suffolk Slow TV'". Should there be a sequel -“The Plough 2 - Back to the Furrow”  or “The Dowdeswell MA 170 Returns” how about making it two or three hours long, with another camera or two? A tracking shot from the rear of the tractor on the unploughed part of the field? A camera mounted on a quad bike in front of the tractor looking back, close to the ground? Or occasional drone shots for establishing the context of the ploughing and the progress of the tractor? Let’s see those zig-zag / sawtooth patterns emerging at the ends of the field as the plough progresses!

I’ve watched The Plough four times now, one actively, two while I got on writing notes and emails, and another while I edged into an afternoon nap in a quieter part of the Christmas ‘holiday’ with Jean Michel Jarre’s near 47 minute ambient masterpiece, “Waiting for Cousteau” playing and the TV on silent. The Plough works very well. It doesn’t try to be too much and what it does do, it does well. A balance of not too much and of just enough.

The Plough was produced by Summer Isle Films (fans of The Wicker Man original?) and filmed at Forest Farms at Stonham Aspal in Suffolk, UK. More details of their DVD here on their website.

More agricultural Slow TV is coming online - Is Slow TV coming to the Mid West?

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Reflecting on Moose Migration Slow TV

Day 9. Screenshot from SVT Play.
This is the second of two guest pieces about the Great Moose Migration Slow TV from SVT in Sweden. 

It's a comparative, analytical piece, setting out its context and place within the family of Slow TV shows.

The first piece can be read here - The Surprises of Slow TV, which takes a more personal exploration. 

Some thoughts and perspectives on SVT’s programme Den stora älgvandringen

By Björn Lindell


Den stora älgvandringen (SVT, 2019) (literal translation: “The great moose migration”) was a live three week 24 hour around the clock long Slow TV project by SVT (the Swedish public service television network). It was shown on SVT Play and was available overseas as well. During the off hours in the mornings, the programme was also shown on broadcast television, on Kunskapskanalen (an off shoot TV channel of SVT for science and nature programmes). It ran from 15th of April to 5th of May 2019.

The programme used 15 cameras mounted around a crossing area in the Ångermanälven river in the north of Sweden, where many moose each year cross over on their way to summer grazing. The cameras can pan and zoom through remote control, and there were also drones that allow for aerial footage as well as a remote controlled boat. Three one-hour outdoor studio-type programmes where produced as well, where a host and guests discussed everything related to the moose migration and the program. These were filmed and broadcast live once a week (on Thursdays) on prime time SVT and was basically the only narrated parts / commented parts of the whole experience. 

The 24 hour live programme consisted of cutting between the various cameras without commentary, sometimes on a programmed loop but on many occasions when stuff was  happening, the cutting between cameras would be directly controlled by operators in the control room who also would pan and zoom with the cameras in order to follow a bird, reindeer or moose or whatever else was deemed interesting to follow. Occasionally there would be text signs overlaying the image to give some short information on things like moose migration or what kind of bird was in the image etc., but these text signs were not (in my experience) very common. Otherwise, there was just a text caption indicating the camera angle and once the moose started swimming, a text box indicating how many had crossed the river.

This text contains some of my personal impressions and reflections, written in the final days of the show (it ended Sunday 5th of May). I use my own experience, as well as impressions I’ve gotten by following along some of the discussions online and with friends and other people around me. As this is an early piece of writing, I haven’t made any thorough research, so a lot of this is will be pure speculation on my part.

The Great Moose Migration - Courtesy SVT
I would like do some tentative analysis of  the program by comparing it to various style elements used in the Norwegian shows. First of all I must mention that in general the Swedish programme is a much more bare, stripped down program and as such I will note many things the Norwegian shows have, that the Swedish one hasn’t. I don’t see this as something detrimental to the Swedish style of making the program. Rather, I believe there are many valid reasons for the show being constructed the way it is. I am convinced there are many active and conscious decisions on the part of the production team that give the Swedish programme a distinct Slow TV approach that creates a local and national appeal. This is not to say a more “Norwegian” style wouldn’t work for other projects of course.

Note: The comparison below may be a bit of apples vs pears. After I had done my writing I came to realize that one should perhaps more directly compare the Swedish program Älgvandringen to the Norwegian Fuglefjellet Hornøya minutt for minutt (NRK, 2016) or Reinflytting minutt for minutt (NRK, 2017). Still the fact remains that it says something that the first real effort to do Swedish Slow TV has this setup, and not a train ride or something along that line (as did the show that started of Slow TV in Norway).

Absence of journey / “narrative arc”

Many of the Norwegian shows are based around some kind of journey (physical or otherwise), here in Älgvandringen we had a geographically static setup with a fixed duration but without any guarantees as to what would take place (would the moose show up at all during this time?). The journey aspect seems to always be there, in its broadest sense, in the Norwegian shows. It can be there directly, as in a train or boat ride, as in Bergensbanen minutt for minutt (NRK, 2009) and Hurtigruten minutt for minutt (NRK, 2011). But it can also be there as a metaphorical or experience-wise journey, such as when turning wool from a sheep to a sweater as experienced in Nasjonal strikkekveld (NRK, 2013) or the journey from 00:00 to 24:00 as seen in Klokken minutt for minutt (NRK, 2018). All these shows provides what could be called a very loose narrative arc, but still something that has a clear beginning, a middle and an end. 

The content-wise closest Norwegian show to the Swedish one may be the previously mentioned Reinflytting, in which the cameras follow along human-guided migrating reindeer. I am not that familiar with that show, but as far as I know it still represent quite directly a journey, that of the reindeers, following a route they take each year (notably I believe they had to end the show before they reached their destination due to a blizzard). The other Norwegian show, Fuglefjellet Hornøya, might be technically even more similar to Älgvandringen with its setup with static cameras monitoring a specific geographical area, but I haven’t seen it so I am just making assumptions.

With the Swedish setup, no real narrative arc was available apart from the fact that some moose would probably show up and move on. There were no guarantees of anything, except to get some long glimpses on nature and wildlife in a specific area. Of course, the anonymous moose were making their journeys, but we couldn’t know if we would be able to see their journeys. Still, many viewers would experience some sort of dramatic high points when they saw moose and then even more so when they saw them crossing the river. 

A small attempt to make the moose a little more personal was made by placing radio trackers on three moose (nicknamned "Ärrade damen", "Trygga mamman" and "Jokern" -  roughly translated to “The scarred old lady”, “The confident mom” and “The joker”). This was presented in the first one hour studio programme. But the tracking of these moose was, as far as I can tell, not something that was monitored on the 24 hour live programme (notably because they all choose off-camera places to cross). They were monitored by SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) and you could get map updates on SLUs website in case you were really interested. People could also vote on which of the three moose would cross first and the grand total of moose crossing. I haven’t seen the other two of the studio programmes yet, but I would imagine they provided updates to these mooses progress. My impression is that the gimmick of the three moose added some flavour but didn’t really matter that deeply to people following the programme (but it did provide some talking points of course).

Few distractions 
Many of the Norwegian programs feature things like: added music, inclusion of archival footage, and people. For instance, the Bergensbanen programme would often play Norwegian music that had a connection to places that the train passed through. They would show archival documentary footage when the camera was blacked out by the many tunnels they passed through. The camera would show people on platforms getting on and off, and a mobile camera with reporter would occasionally do short interviews with people on and around the train. A lot of these components were to be present in many of the other Norwegian programs that were to follow.

The soon to be 55th moose having crossed the river, day 17
Screenshot from SVT Play.
None of these elements were present in Älgvandringen. The only sounds you would hear were sounds taken up at the same time and place as the cameras were filming. The sounds would be of whatever happened in nature (as well as the muffled traffic noise from the closest road). The sounds would occasionally be very weak, and on some occasions quite strong (some water, rain, and animal noises) seemingly depending on which camera was in view and possibly other parameters. There would be nothing sound-wise throwing you out of the immersion though, as one could argue happens with the Norwegian way of adding music (and allowing some speech from reporters and /or archival material to blend with the footage).

As for archival footage, in the sense of old documentaries and other material - I never noticed any and I have a strong impression there intentionally isn’t any - it simply isn’t part of the setup. In the Norwegian programs, archival footage (usually shown by sharing the screen with the real-time footage) adds a sense of history and a deeper text /experience, but they also contribute a sort of traditional narrative in something otherwise quite slow, and a narrative that is filmed in more traditional editing style that contradicts the ambitions of the real-time footage.

One thing that appeared on occasion in the Swedish programme, and could be defined as archival I guess, was that they would feature “earlier today”- segments where they would show things that had been filmed earlier that day. This was shown by sharing the screen with the ongoing footage, as far as I could tell. These kind of “flashbacks” seemed to be shown during the late evening /night segments, where little was happening or could be seen. But I am not sure how frequent this was, my impression is that it was quite rare, but I haven’t watched enough to know. (As a side note: the fact that the programme ran through the night, but most cameras didn’t seem to have a night vision mode, together with the fact that much less seems to happen during the night, made the late / early hours in darkness a very subtle slow radio experience).

The Great Moose Migration - Courtesy SVT
As for people - there were none. And very little indication of human technology or presence. One could occasionally glimpse a car on the distant road that was visible sometimes when the camera panned to follow a swimming moose. One would hear the muffled droning of traffic noises sometimes. Reportedly some viewers could see what was probably the TV crew when they rowed out to fix the cables that had been mauled by a huge ice floe. But no people seemed to have passed by or tried to approach the site in order to appear on camera.

I asked a question on a Facebook group (“Vi som följer Den stora älgvandringen”) for followers of the show, to see if anyone had noticed any people. The above mentioned examples were the only one given, and more than one of the commenters expressed their gratitude for the absence of people. It seems that the lack of people and low presence of man made things was an important factor in the enjoyment of this nature show. 

Obviously the cameras themselves would be an indication of the presence of humans, but since they were never visible or appeared in view, our immersion through their “eyes” was quite easy. It was easy to forget they were there (especially at the times the cameras didn’t pan or zoom). There was of course the singular event of a reindeer breaking the fourth wall by looking into the camera. 

As for the Norwegian shows, I get the impression that the presence of people seems an important part of the concept in many cases. Not sure in how great a deal this applies to Reinflytting, and I haven’t watched it but I would assume Fuglefjellet Hornøya is close to the Swedish setup in this and other regards. The latter is notable also because it was shown live in Sweden as well, if I recall correctly…) .

Reindeer leaping at the camera, day 8. 
Screenshot courtesy SVT Play.
Is enjoyment of nature is more of a social thing in Norway, and more of a solitary thing in Sweden? Maybe it doesn’t differ so much in practice (we like to go out in nature together here as well), but maybe the social aspect is something we don’t want / need to be mirrored when we’re watching nature. Here the presence of people is a distraction. Maybe this is different for Norwegians? 

More information and sources

Since the purpose of this text has been to quickly express some personal reflections, I haven’t been thoroughly collecting sources /references, but here are some further information:

Background and related information on the show

These two linked articles give some general technical information as well as information on the SLU’s tagging of the moose.

The show itself

Den stora älgvandringen (SVT, 2019)

The actual programme can be viewed here.

The leaping reindeer is highlighted here.

Norwegian shows mentioned

Bergensbanen minutt for minutt (NRK, 2009) 

Fuglefjellet Hornøya minutt for minutt (NRK, 2016) 

Hurtigruten minutt for minutt (NRK, 2011)

Reinflytting minutt for minutt (NRK, 2017)

Many thanks to Björn for his analysis of this Slow TV. It's pleasing to share from another person similarly motivated to reflect upon this format, why and how it might work.

See also on Facebook: Slow TV Fans, Thinkers and Film Makers.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Friday, 24 May 2019

Swedish Slow TV - The Surprises of Slow TV

The Great Moose Migration - Courtesy SVT
This is the first of two guest pieces about the Great Moose Migration Slow TV from SVT in Sweden. 

This piece is a personal reflection, which documents very nicely the surprises which Slow TV can bring: unexpected dramas, a cumulative narrative which becomes more compelling the more you stay with it, the fear of missing something special, the engagement with history, heritage and perceived national identity, experiencing the beauty of something otherwise hard to come by.

The second piece is more analytical and comparative, and can be read at this link.

Both show different perspectives and angles in enjoying and experiencing a well curated Slow TV broadcast.

Leelene Karlsson writes:

"As a fan of Slow TV since I first saw Hurtigruten minutt for minutt, I have longed for a Swedish version of Slow TV. I even once contacted SVT and asked them if they had any ideas for such a thing. They replied and denied. So I kept watching the Norwegian versions and thought of different things I wanted to be Swedish Slow TV. Then this winter / spring I stumbled across an article on social media telling me about "The Great Moose Migration". I jumped for joy. The first Swedish Slow TV, finally.

I think I didn't really watch it the first two or three days (I was at work and was tired I suppose). But when I first finally watched it, I was pleased with what I saw. I live just two and a half hour car drive from Kullberg, living in the same region I know the beauty of the nature here and Kullberg is very similar to lots of places where I live. Having the comfy feeling of Västernorrland nature and waiting anxious for the first moose to arrive was indeed exiting. 

The 17th Moose to swim - Courtesy SVT
A few years ago I had a walk in Finnskogen (Swedish / Norwegian forest land close to Torsby) and encountered up to 12 moose on my path. It was dawn and they are very active at that hour. I couldn't help but become a bit afraid of the gigantic creatures, some of which can grow up to 800 kg. That must be an animal taller than any of the actors who have played James Bond and mightier than anything else you've met in a forest. So a little phobia had almost grown inside of me. And frankly I have never really understood why this giant is the national animal and symbol of Sweden. I was in for a crash course in the why and the how of that story.

It turns out that for up to 9000 years the moose has been migrating at this spot in Kullberg. There are hunting spots visible to the archaeologist's eye all around the area. This means that there have probably been moose migrations for all these years. This leaves huge marks in the culture. Half of historical findings of foodstuff left by humans are bones coming from the moose here in Sweden. The history of Swedes and moose are therefore very old, not just the road signs that some Germans have nicked from roads in modern times. 

Courtesy SVT
Seeing the moose finally swim was a delight, my phobia turned into respect and soon love. The anguish of seeing a mother moose and her calf stepping out on thin ice to almost be trapped was a horrific, thrilling moment. I rooted for the mother and calf. 

I was sad when the ice shelf as big as three football fields cut off the fibre cables and prevented half the cameras from working. I could see the beauty in ice melting, birds coming back filling the air with song, laughing at the photo bombing reindeer with a single horn. Soon I got sore from hours of watching the show, feeling real sadness when I had to work and could not keep up with the moose. I went wild with happiness when other animals were caught on camera as well. 

A craving to go to Kullberg soon took place in my heart. One of my spare time activities is to be a bird watcher and I have sworn a silent oath now to do more of that and more mindfulness in nature. This latest Slow TV has really affected me much more that I ever thought was possible.

The general reactions to the show have also been very positive. Children have been watching it in school, elderly people have been more talkative and more social in their care homes. Many are the people who have understood that it is important to try to slow down in their own lives. Only a few reporters who live their lives far away from nature have been cynical. All in all I guess the reaction has been overwhelmingly good. 

It is hard for me to separate my own experiences, the facts of the nature itself and the reactions of others, when it comes to something like "The Great Moose Migration". It has been very nice to talk to others about a single topic and feel the community grow. Seeing the Facebook group that follows the show growing, adding to the experience and being part of something bigger than myself, something profoundly Swedish. Ahh, it has been so great! 

Courtesy SVT
For the first time I felt that we as a nation are proud of something that doesn't leave a foul taste in my mouth. This time the "nationalism" has been all positive and without the usual racism that always seems to pop up here in Sweden. And that in itself must be the best thing springing from this Slow TV show. If everything else fails, we can always go back to the camp fire, and the camp fire in Sweden is now, symbolically speaking, a moose standing on the river bank eating a twig before heading off for a swim across the Ångerman river. That is true beauty for us here in Sweden."

Many thanks to Leelene for sharing her experience of The Great Moose Migration. I'm pleased to share content from other fans gripped by the universe of Slow TV.

There's a Facebook fan group at "Vi som följer den stora älgvandringen!" - it's in Swedish but Facebook does a fair job at translating content. See also on Facebook: Slow TV Fans, Thinkers and Film Makers.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog