Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Stop By Stop

Entrance to Breary Banks, with a few sheep! Credit to Alice Toso
Being chased out of a field by a flock of sheep was not something I expected to happen whilst I was on site last week. They certainly made themselves known! I went to site to gather more content about the history of the site, to establish my four 'stops' for our forthcoming audio guide and to get a firsthand account of the changeable weather that is unpredictable, to say the least. Before I went to site, I was introduced by the university's E-Learning Adviser, Simon Davis, to a computer software called Audacity, which enables you to edit all formats of audio. I will use this once my four recordings have been completed to ensure my audience can clearly understand the spoken content for each stop. Since the weather in the remote village of Colsterdale is pretty erratic, it would be preferable to record each audio file in a quiet studio/room, so no interference is detected. I was also presented, by the university's Collaborative Software Specialist Tom Smith, with another resource called LiveCode, which will provide my framework for building my app, so I will be able to insert commands and audio within a card that will measure up to the format and size of an iPhone 5 (and, eventually, other mobile devices).

A long-standing feature of the site and a stop for the app
Credit to Alice Toso
By having this information at my fingertips, I was then able to develop a storyboard of what my app would look like visually and interactively. It will be fairly fragmented, as the stops can be accessed and listened to in any order. If you visit this site having downloaded the app, I would recommend starting at the Memorial to the Leeds Pals, as this is what sets the scene, if you like, by illustrating the context of the site. From there, you can either turn right to go back down to the start of the road, or turn left to go up to the end - either way, it doesn't really matter.

The entrance to the village, with the Chapel located to
the left of the image.
Credit to Alice Toso
The second stop could be the Chapel as you come up to the village, this is a Methodist Chapel built in 1911 and used by all the site's occupants. The third stop could be the ash tree that is to your left past the memorial, which is a prime focal point of the camp. This tree is in photographs from the start of the site's development in the early 1900s, and gives a good perspective of the structure of the landscape and the huts which once stood there. 

Finally, if you carry on past the tree, you come to a fork in the road, and to the right ahead of you, there is a firing range and a field which has trenches in it. This stop will highlight the training and 'handicrafts' that the soldiers had to master in order to survive and be prepared for the life of trench warfare and 'going over the top'. Depending on the different aspects of each stop, the audio will differ, experimenting with ways to make the audience consider possibilities associated with the site's usage and importance.

Myself interviewing Dr Jonathan Finch
Credit to Alice Toso

I went through the app's format quite a few times during the day, to make sure my audio will be descriptive and simple enough for listeners to follow. The module leader for the Excavation Fieldschool at Breary Banks is Dr Jonathan Finch, and I took him through the structure of the app last week and interviewed him as if he was a participant of the app guide. I asked him to describe what he sees from each stop, to divulge historical content that would aid me in my audio and to respond to any unanswered questions I had. This interview proved vital, in order for me to feel confident enough to produce an app that would do justice to the full potential of the wider landscape. 

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