Last year, I accompanied a group of young tech enthusiasts from CSIRO, UQ, and QUT to Peel Island to film a documentary for the BBC. It was all part of the CyArk project with the aim of digitising the Lazaret (see my earlier blogs: ‘Click’ of October 15, 2016 and ‘Digitising the Lazaret at Peel Island’ of May 14, 2016). It was all under the guidance of Nick Kwek, the show’s producer and director who came from London to do the filming. He realised that the story’s human side is really fascinating as well, so I was included in the team to supply a bit of the human history to the now empty huts that the drones and robots were to film.
Now it’s available for all to view on the BBC’s official YourTube account:
I recently accompanied a group of young tech enthusiasts from CSIRO, UQ, and QUT to Peel Island to film a documentary for the BBC. It was all part of the CyArk project with the aim of digitising the Lazaret (see my earlier blog Digitising the Lazaret at Peel Island of May 14, 2016). It was all under the guidance of Nick Kwek, the show’s producer and director who came from London to do the filming. He realised that the story’s human side is really fascinating as well, so I was included in the team to supply a bit of the human history to the now empty huts that the drones and robots were to film.
Nick was indeed bowled over by the place and spent many hours filming the buildings as well as the robots and drones. He also conducted several interviews, of which I scored about ten minutes.
Although I did feel a bit out of place amongst all the geeky tech talk, (but I did understand the terms drone and wi-fi) it was a very stimulating experience for an old codger like me to be amid the intelligence and enthusiasm of these fine young University people.
Like the production of all documentaries, most ends up on the cutting room floor, and it was with some dismay that I learned that the entire segment, for the BBC series called Click, would only run for five minutes. I doubt that I’ll get much of an airing in the final product. As an historian, I often lament the discarding of so much history on the cutting room floor, which must be even worse now that we have changed from film to videotape and digital, but the media have little regard for anything outside their current projects. Nick did however say that a full documentary should be made of the place. I hope he talks to someone at the BBC about this idea!
‘Trip to Italy’, a film and TV series of recent times, featured in its soundtrack a recurring theme comprising a loud, sustained chord that resolved gradually into a slow expansive melody of great aural beauty. It was so perfectly matched to the action, especially the sedate yachting scenes, that I wondered just how the director came to select such a piece of music. Did he have all this music already in his head, or did he visit a library of background music and ask for a suitable piece? Indeed, how does any director, especially for TV documentaries, select the background music?
Evidently other viewers of ‘Trip to Italy’ had also liked the piece which, thanks to Google, was identified as ‘At Sunset’ from ‘Four Last Songs’ by German composer, Richard Strauss, and composed just before his death at 85. Interestingly, the premiere was given posthumously at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 22 May 1950, sung by Flagstad, accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler. The performance was made possible due to the magnanimous effort of the then Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar Bahudar. Though he could not be present, the music-loving maharaja put up a $4,800 guarantee for the performance, so that the Four Last Songs could be recorded for his large personal collection – then estimated at around 20,000 records – and the recording then shipped to him in Mysore.
In 1973, Dr Jacob Bronowski was asked to write and present a documentary BBC television documentary series, The Ascent of Man, along with an accompanying book. Its subject was the history of human beings through scientific endeavour, and was intended to parallel art historian Kenneth Clark’s earlier “personal view” series Civilisation (1969), which had covered cultural history.
In 1974 when asked by Michael Parkinson what his idea for the future was, Bronowski replied: ‘I have no idea, but I am convinced that human beings take pleasure in work, rather than in idleness. I am convinced that when people are accused of idleness, it just means that they are being accused of hating the hum drum job that doesn’t tax them that they have been put into. So I am convinced that the ideal world for every human being is one in which he or she does a job that they are good at, like doing, and gives them satisfaction. That’s my utopia.’
Today, finding suitable employment for our disenfranchised is one of our major challenges.