Lights, Camera, Standen! (And Cragside!)

I’ve recently been busily travelling around the country visiting Standen and Cragside with film crews to film and photograph various rooms for our digital interactive. At Standen we were joined by the very helpful Leeds Media Services, who will also be doing all our editing, and at Cragside we worked with the University’s own Digital Learning Team, and also filmed material which will be used in first year teaching in January.

Taking photos in the Drawing Room at Standen.

Taking photos in the Drawing Room at Standen.

The main body of the digital interactive will comprise three floor plans, one for each house, and within each floor plan users will be able to click on four rooms to find out more about the history of electricity in that room of the house. Clicking on a room will display a large photo of the interior of the room, within which will be a clickable hotspot, for example an electric lamp, a telephone, or an electric call signal board. Users will have to find this hotspot, and hovering over it will generate a larger picture of the object, and a question about electricity, which, when clicked on, will open a video answering the question and giving more information.

On these visits we had very little time as we needed to fit around the respective houses’ schedules, so we needed to be very efficient and well organised. We were also very aware of the potential dangers of using filming equipment in small spaces filled with so many invaluable artefacts! Nevertheless, we knew beforehand exactly what we wanted to film and photograph, and we got it all done carefully and in good time.

Not allowed on the carpet!

Not allowed on the carpet!

It was interesting to move around some of the rooms in areas which are normally roped off, and which the public can only see from a distance; in one room in Standen this necessitated us all removing our shoes, a slightly surreal experience which made me glad I had, however unwittingly, managed to find socks without holes in them that morning. We were very grateful for the hospitality of the teams at both houses, and especially for accommodating our requests to move interpretative materials, rope barriers, or occasionally some of their display objects around in order to improve the shot or the photograph.

The library at Cragside. ©University of Leeds Digital Learning Team and Leeds Media Services

The library at Cragside. ©University of Leeds Digital Learning Team and Leeds Media Services

One of my favourite shots, which I am looking forward to using in the interactive, is one in the Library at Cragside, where we simulated a power failure by filming the lights slowly going out. Early electrical installations often weren’t very reliable! We will be filming at Lotherton Hall, the third partner house, in December.