Written by Simon Fox Category: Programmes
Published on 11 January 2008

"If it's within my capability I'll make it"
One of most rewarding aspects of working at HHTV is the amazing array of interesting and talented people we meet while filming. We’ve made programmes featuring a man who builds award winning miniature houses, another who sculpts in glass and an engineer who builds miniature railway locomotives with his bare hands. Our latest foray into this area featured John Hider, who can create a masterpiece from a simple block of wood.



























As well as the thrill of the shoot this was also a special occasion for us since it was the first time we had used our new DSR390 camera, a large shoulder mounted beast giving professional quality pictures, and we were really looking forward to putting it through its paces. So we arrived early on a Saturday in darkest Hertfordshire, and promptly set up in John’s workshop in his shed at the bottom of his garden.
John has been a wood turner for many years and has made an astounding variety of pieces, but just does it as a hobby. "It doesn't matter how long it takes me...you just carry on until you've got what you want".  Over the years, he's made coffee tables, dining room suites, dolls houses and even wooden fruit.



























That in itself would make a great programme, but John has also had an incredibly varied and active life. After leaving the army, he joined the fire and ambulance service and also worked as a butcher before going back into the fire service with the BBC, and his workshop is more like a slice of history, a shrine to sentiment and posterity. Such is his diversity that John is also used a documentary subject for trainee BBC directors. This meant that he was really natural and experienced in front of the camera, a producer's dream.



























For the actual shoot we decided to film John in action, turning a piece of wood into a finished article, in this case a gardener’s dibber. We would then use the interview with John talking about his life as voice track to accompany this. One problem we immediately discovered was that our fantastic new camera was actually too big to move around John’s cramped workshop, which of course limited our choice of shots. Luckily we got round this problem by shooting some scenes through a window outside the shed.

A main issue with filming anything that involves making something is how to capture all the action from different angles without missing anything. John could simply repeat the action and make a separate dibber every time we reset the camera. But a far more practical method would be for John to spend a few minutes turning the wood, stop filming, change camera position and continue. This would help continuity and also save a huge amount of time.

The shoot took most of the morning and considering it was the first time we had used the camera in anger we came away with some pretty good footage. It was then expertly edited by Simon Lloyd on Final Cut Pro and the result is a really nice visual piece about John’s life and passion for his craft.



























"I come out here and I'm in a world of my own. I get a call...your  dinner's ready or a cup of tea or whatever, and in I go...but as soon as I can, I'm back here."

  • Crew:  Simon Fox (producer), Steve Norris (camera operator), Simon Lloyd (sound recordist/VT editor)
  • Equipment: Sony DSR 390 DVCAM camera, Mono  SQN Sound Mixer, Sennheiser  ME66 directional gun mic
  • Lighting: ‘Blonde’ 2KW

Editing: Apple Final Cut Pro Ver 5

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