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Avast there! Snow ahoy!

Catherine went for a walk in the snow, taking Morag’s camera with her, and humming a little tune to herself as she went along. The rest she explains below…

(Changed days from A. A. Milne and Winnie the Pooh… Morag, back in St Andrews, uploaded the pics to her Facebook account, from which Catherine picked a selection to put into Movie Maker using the PC we have back home, having already synched the Garageband file from the iPad. That may sound techie, but anyone who knows us will also know that “techie” is something we do not do. Amazing how easy to use this stuff is.)

Snow Pirates from Catherine Eunson on Vimeo.

Outside our wee cottage in the woods it snowed and snowed. Inside, thanks to Garageband, it got very piratey! Ha Harr!!!

Apr 2/3/4 2012

Italian Dub

Non parlo italiano. Non canto italiano. Ma mi piace questa musica italiana…

Pistoia and the Italian Dub Community from Gordon Wells on Vimeo.

This video was knocked together the morning after the night before. A fine convivial meal in a local restaurant, and a leisurely stroll through the town’s backstreets in balmy weather provided plenty of video material to edit. The 3-minute music track was downloaded from a Creative Commons site –, and provided a time-limited framework within which to work on the picture sequence. Possible uses? Suggestions please!

Stoneybridge Workshop Weekend

The film-making class at the Stoneybridge Workshop Weekend in South Uist made a short film about some of the classes that were being held on the Saturday. In the morning and early afternoon we worked on camera skills, and then got some experience of editing at the end of the day. Many human stars, but the oscar must go to the canine participant who brought a whole new meaning to the concept of an “archaeological dig”… Who said you should never work with animals?

Stoneybridge Workshop Weekend from Gordon Wells on Vimeo.

Technical Postscript (for the nerdish tendency): Using Vimeo rather than YouTube is a new departure for me. There’s a discernible drop-off in video quality in the embedded version, though a direct comparison with the Island Voices YouTube clips would probably not be fair, as the source files for the latter were enormous .avi files, whereas for this clip I used a much smaller .wmv file – conveniently loadable from the comfort of my own home.

Other Island Voices

One part of the day job (POOLS 2) takes me to another island this week – Cyprus – also bilingual at least, though perhaps less comfortably so than home. So here’s a multilingual mixture, “hosted” first in the Language of Eden:

And here in the Other Tongue:

More videos: suggestions welcome!

Funding applications, some already successful and others ongoing, mean that a start can be made on a second series of videos to complement those already done –

There will probably be a broad (though not exclusive) “environmental” theme in the second series. Appeals in the local press and other local contacts have generated interest, and suggested topics so far include the following:

Children’s Parliament/youthwork
Tourism and Hospitality/visitor centres
Environmental sustainability/research
Marine environment
Boat building
Outdoor leisure activities (surfing etc)

Right now we’re having beautiful weather, and I’ve already got some nice pictures. The plan is to follow the same format of the original series: short scripted “plain language” documentary introductions, together with authentic speech “talking head” interviews. Anyone reading this, particularly if they’re at some distance from here, is welcome to get in touch with further suggestions or comments.

Island Voices/Guthan nan Eilean: background thinking

The “Island Voices/Guthan nan Eilean” project was conceived as an exercise in teaching materials development. Its primary purpose is to help people learn languages. It has also been an immensely enjoyable piece of work to produce – trying to capture the “day to day creativity” of a bilingual community.

It has certainly sparked interest beyond a narrowly educational one. Over the summer of 2007 it formed a part of the annual “Art on the Map” trail, with the videos being played on a loop at Nunton Steadings in Benbecula. Pasted below are the introductory comments that I wrote for any interested viewers. I’d like to take the project further. Any comments or suggestions welcome.

“Art on the Map”

We rely on our power to think in order to make sense of ourselves and the world in which we live. Our thoughts take shape in words. Language is fundamental to the way we find or create meaning in our lives.

Yet we are not born with it. Every one of us goes through a creative process by which we learn to recognise and produce particular sounds, and organise them into patterns which have a shared significance for ourselves and those around us. And the patterns allow an infinite variety of shifting combinations, freeing us all to constantly mean something new and different every time we open our mouths to speak.

Generally we take this highly intricate complexity for granted, so naturally engrained is it in our everyday lives. We rarely acknowledge it, let alone celebrate it. Sometimes, however, the existence side by side of two distinct linguistic systems, for example English and Gaelic, presents a choice and may make us stop and think a bit about “everyday language”, and perhaps appreciate it more. The Uist communities of the early twenty-first century, through their day-to-day sharing of two highly differentiated yet equally valid “methods of delivering meaning”, offer the opportunity for reflection on a remarkable human characteristic.

In this series of short films the documentaries offer “slices of life and work” in the Uists. While they were undeniably fun to make, their function is really to establish a context. They are therefore, in an important sense, subordinate to the interviews with real people talking naturally about their life or work. Most of the interviewees are bilingual, and offer “two takes” on their world. The monolingual viewer, confronted with an opaque wall of sound in an unknown language, may be alerted to an alternative and intricate way of making meaning. The bilingual viewer may reflect on the richness of choice available to them with their varied linguistic repertoire, and consider the value of maintaining it. The language learner can look forward to making the once opaque seem quite transparent.

The project is created, at heart, for learners – those who see inherent value in continuing to extend their expressive range. Yet some broader benefit may also be seen if we are all reminded of the unique creative capacity that we share – the natural art that is natural language. What people say about their daily lives may sometimes seem quite unremarkable. How they say it, when you do stop to think about it, is actually beyond words.

Gordon Wells, Benbecula, 14/07/07,

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