I’m researching ways to reduce carbon emissions from residential heritage buildings while retaining their heritage values. I’m focussing on Cumbria and the Lake District National Park and before the small matter of coronavirus prevented all activities I was halfway through my fieldwork.
My fieldwork is made up of visits to residential buildings across Cumbria and involves interviews, building walkthroughs and building energy assessments, followed by an energy diary that participants fill in.
But as this has all had to be suspended over the last two months I decided to undertake some reflection on how the visits had been going so far and the verdict was, mostly pretty well! But thinking back I also realised that some interesting and surprising things had come up in the course of the research.
So I decided to turn to one of my favourite mediums, Playmobil, and create a short video about some of the interesting conundrums and surprises encountered during the fieldwork so far. I’ve entered this video in the postgraduate research competition’s multimedia category and it can be accessed here (where you can also see other entries and vote for your favourite if you wish): https://researchposters.open.ac.uk/multimedia_voting_grid_2020.php
All things considered it was great fun to make the video and a good way to do something useful but fun and take one’s mind off the stresses of coronavirus. I spent some time thinking about how best to present the ‘story’ and then wrote out the script of what I wanted to say. Having bounced the idea around in the back of my head for a few weeks to let it mature I then drew up a rough storyboard to see how the words and images would fit together and as a result edited the script somewhat.
Having engaged in all this planning, the actual process of filming and putting it all together in iMovie (my chosen software) was remarkably smooth and took a surprisingly short amount of time (it was just the tidying up afterwards that took a while!). I will never cease to be surprised at how a piece of plywood covered in a neutral tablecloth and set on the conservatory sofa can make such an acceptable film studio! I had particular fun making the plasticine cakes and biscuits and was also very proud of some of the special effects I added in Keynote.
The only bit that was slightly challenging was making sure that the background music was balanced appropriately so that it complemented rather than overwhelmed the voiceover but after some tweaking I was happy.
I’m pleased with the video overall and I’m hopeful that as well as being an amusing diversion it also makes a couple of valid points about the processes of fieldwork.
Armed with the learning from my reflective exercise I am looking forward to having more fieldwork adventures (and who knows, hopefully more biscuits!) once it is again allowed and safe to do so!