Monday, 17 November 2008

16 Hours of British Birds

Hello Chairman Whitby here. This morning the postman has delivered an exciting package from Elf-Supremo Andy Hirst containing the first duplicated copies of the new BirdGuides DVD that we have been busy working on all year. That's our editor Jack Wylson proudly holding his copy. Sixteen hours of stonking footage covering 270 species on 4 discs. It has been a marathon project and we are relieved and delighted to see the finished product ready in good time for Christmas.

Lining the cutting room shelves behind Jack you can see some of the hundreds of camera tapes that we have accumulated during the past decade. In the course of this year we have transferred their entire contents onto hard drives (5 terabytes worth!) all carefully logged so that Jack can call up all the footage of any given species within seconds. This includes over 100 hours of recent material shot on our wonderful HD cameras (more about this in a future post).

Jack's task during 2008 has been to compile all the best footage we have on each species, using his judgement as an experienced birder to select shots that illustrate key ID features, interesting behaviour and plumage variations. Jack (in London) has then uploaded the compilation of clips to our FTP server so that Dave Gosney (who is based in Sheffield) can download them to view on his trusty laptop. Dave has then written and recorded new commentaries to match the footage and transmitted these back to Jack as digital files to edit into final sequences along with distribution maps, illustrations and sound recordings of songs and calls for each bird. The end result is a three to four minute portrait for each of the 270 species from which Fiona Barclay has then created the final set of four interactive DVDs. All very 21st Century.

Even with the DVD version now shipping, our labours are not yet over. Just when you might think it is time for a well-deserved rest, we still have more production work. All the edited videos need to be compressed for the iPhone and iPod Touch version. Roll on Christmas!

No comments: