Thinking back

Now as our project is drawing to an end, as a group we have begun to think back on the past 6 weeks, reflecting on our time together. As in any project we have stumbled on some problems, such as how the environment may impact on the use of our audio guide and brochure, and issues with the annoying white border making us rethink our brochure layout. However, we have become a strong team, working together, listening to one another, playing to each other’s strengths, and the overall outcome of the project is everything we could have asked for. Despite the long hours and days, we have enjoyed every single moment and this project has certainly taught us the vital skills of team work and collaboration. The skills we have gained and the friendships we have made will certainly be carried along by us for the rest of our lives.

The group was asked a few questions on their overall thoughts and feelings on the module, and we wanted to share this with all of you who have been following our project.

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What do you consider to be the main learning outcomes of the module? What will you take away with you after completion of the module?

Ashley- “I believe the main outcomes of the module are to introduce us to the practical side of heritage practice, mostly by throwing us into the deep end, not unlike the excavation module. This has given us hands-on experience and at the same time, has given us some theoretical background into why we do what we do and how we can grow in it.”

Hermione-  “This module has been so fast-paced, each week being completely different. I’ve developed my creative skills in a team setting, which is something I haven’t done before. Also, learning about the world of heritage in so many ways has been so fascinating, such as digital heritage and heritage presentations! I’m so pleased to say how much my time management skills have improved in such a short time!”

Eliza-  “In my opinion this module was created in order to increase our knowledge about heritage. During the different weeks we had opportunity to take part in variety of tasks. We have learned how to use programs such as Audacity and Photoshop.  However, for me as a person this module helped to develop my confidence and improve quality of my English. Writing the posts for our blog has reminded me how much writing gives me a pleasure and maybe in the future I would like to create my own blog. But the most important advantage is fact that I got the opportunity to meet great people. Those who have a lot of background with heritage but also those who just like me are at the beginning of journey with heritage. Now when my first year at the University is almost at the end, I would like to say that this module was the most interesting and engaging from the all which I had.”

Tongtong- “This heritage module was designed very differently from the excavation module, which is focused on the process of post-excavation and how to present the archaeological results. Therefore, according to its target, I was taught a lot in terms of media representation, such as photoshop, audio recording and editing, creating blogs and so on. Apart from the academic skills, I also got the chance to take part in the project of Breary Banks, which is very useful and practical, and it has shown me how involved media and archaeology are as subjects, and how they can be combined to present an exhibition.”

Emmeline – “At first I would say that the main learning outcomes were expanding my digital skills with audacity and photoshop, as well as gaining experience with wordpress, learning how to plan and curate an exhibition and increase my skills for the professional world. I’ve also increased my  archaeology skills just by being present at the excavation and understanding the stories behind the facts. Indeed this module means that I could apply for the internship at TFTV over the summer because I have the skills that I can use to develop. But when I start to think about it, I have learnt a whole lot more. I’ve learnt how to work successfully as part of a team and adapting myself to the demands of the outside world. I’ve furthered myself as a person by listening to the feedback of others throughout the course and taking action on those points. Yes, I’ve acquired more skills that I can put on my CV, yes I’ve been part of successful project to create an audio guide, but I think that what I will take away from the module are the friends I’ve made along the way and how I, as a person, have changed for the better.”

Jess-  “At the start of the module I certainly felt I had no skills to bring to the project, however over the past weeks I feel I have flourished, developing new skills every single day of the project and I have learnt the importance of positivity, and to always encourage others in the group to insert their skills into tasks.  I feel that although the main obvious outcome of the project was to learn about the heritage sector and how heritage works in the public sphere, I also feel that the most important outcome was personal development in all senses, in terms of confidence, team work, all sorts of skills like photography,  organisation, passion for our work, photoshop, audio editing and blog writing. Overall we will always remember this experience.”

Steve- This model has changed the way I look at promotion of Heritage to a wider audience.”

 

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Do you think the field school (heritage project) has had an impact on how you understand heritage? How?

Ashley- “The field school has absolutely had an impact – I didn’t have a real concept on what heritage entailed, other than ‘the bridge between archaeologists and the public’ but this has shown me not only the bigger picture of heritage but the details that go into everything. There’s so many different facets to it, and no matter what you’re good at or interested in, there’s always a million other things to learn and try and grow in.”

Hermione- “The 2016 Heritage field school has completely transformed my view of heritage. I knew very little to begin with. However, now after a matter of weeks, presenting to Leeds Museums and Galleries, working with marketing and IT professionals,  I feel confident in my newfound knowledge. I could certainly get to work with confidence, on another heritage project!”

Eliza- “The field school had a huge impact on my learning. Before this module, my knowledge about heritage was really small. Now after a few weeks of hard but really enjoyable work I know more about heritage. I know that heritage is not just like Ashley said ‘the bridge between archaeologists and the public’  but is something more. This sector offers plenty of ways in which we young students may develop in the future. I also realised that this field is still developing and even if I spent my whole life on expanding knowledge about heritage I would never know everything.”

Tongtong- “The heritage fieldschool contributed the way I understand this subject, which I barely knew anything about at the beginning of the module; and now I have many thoughts about it. I realised how important social media is in terms of representing heritage, and it is not only about presentation, but there is something deeper that a heritage presentation also needs to express the emotion. And by doing this, a comprehensive range of skills across different subjects, such as archaeology, media, and history will be used.”

Emmeline- “The field school has cemented how I understand heritage, especially how you get the public/audience to get involved with the history and how there is more to heritage than just facts. I like the fact that as a heritage practitioner I have the ability to understand the stories behind the facts and I think that that is what brings facts to life.”

Jess- “The field school has taught me that there is much more to heritage than meets the eye. There is lots of hard work and time that goes into heritage projects. However, I have found that it is such a rewarding sphere of work. Meeting and working with different types of people such as curators in Leeds Museums and Galleries and people from the Nidderdale project has allowed me to gain the all important practical experience of the world of heritage. This has been an unique opportunity that I wouldn’t trade for the world, and made allowed me to develop and flourish as a heritage student.”

Steve– “Before this model I thought of heritage as the preservation of buildings. I have now learnt that heritage covers a wide range of subjects!”

 

 

we chose one word that we felt described our experience of the module

INTENSE!!

 

Enlightening

 

Engaging

 

Practical  

 

Mind Blowing

Fulfilling!

hectic 

 

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This photo of the group sums up the days spent as Breary Banks- COLD AND WET. Photo by Ashley

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Ten top tips for audio-guide narration

Ever wanted to do a bit of narration? Looking for a career in radio, voice-overs or audio stories? Then this guide made by the narrators of the Breary Banks audio guide is for you.

Tip 1. Drink a lot of water
If you don’t drink water your voice gets dry and you end up coughing, which doesn’t sound good on the recording.

Tip 2. Do a lot of lip drills before starting
If you don’t, you stumble on your words and say things like shoulders instead of soldiers….

Tip 3. Read the script over once before recording
It lets you know where the traps  in the script are, such as ‘battle training trenches’….

Tip 4. Make sure you don’t sound like a robot
If it’s the fourth time you’ve recorded the same section, take a break, go for a walk, have a drink of water…

Tip 5. Turn off all other electronic devices that are in the room
A mobile phone ring tone on the audio recording doesn’t sound that authentic. And you don’t want your phone conversation to be recorded do you?

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Emmeline recording the narration for the audio guide. Photo by Ashley.

Tip 6. Try to avoid b and p….
xAfter a while Breary Banks becomes Preary Panks

Tip 7. Never read ahead
If you do, you’ll end up inventing new words, like Potatews…(any guess what that means?)

Tip 8. Don’t swear during the recording
It’s very hard to edit out

Tip 9. Don’t charge your laptop during recordings
The microphone will pick up the sound of your laptop charging and you’ll have fun editing the 90Hz  hum out of the recording (noise reduction and equalization are your friends if this ever happens to you)

Tip 10. Have fun
If you don’t, this job is not for you

 

 

The Recording & Editing of our Audio Guide

With this being our final week of production for our project, we focused mainly on finalising the scripts for production, recording the entire audio guide, and editing the audio for the final product.

Finalising the Script

We went through each script individually, appointing particular people to grammar, spell and fact-check each script. Not many changes had to be made to the scripts, as they were already produced to a high quality by each member in the group, all having done research and spent lots of time working on the scripts. Once the scripts were done it was time to begin recording.

Recording

We chose the voices of characters that would feature in the audio guide from our group:

  • Narrator: Emmeline
  • Navvy: Steve
  • Child: Hermione
  • Nurse: Jessica

We selected the quietest place within Kings Manor, which was situated in the PhD student offices, and each ‘character’ went into the recording area. We also made sure to have as few people in the recording room as possible, to reduce as much noise as we could, and to get the clearest recording. We wanted to get all the recording done all in the same day, so all elements of the recording such as reverb and volume would be the same, and also ensured that the microphone was the same distance away at all times.

The person being recorded would read from the script placed on a laptop in front of them, and if they stumbled or messed up at all during the recording, would just repeat the paragraph and would then be edited in post production to continue the flow of the recording. Each stop had a separate recording each, so we had 8 recordings for the 8 stops. At the start of each recording we stated which stop it was to avoid confusion.

Once recording was complete all recording files were transferred onto a memory stick and then passed onto the group for them to take their individual stop that they are responsible for and uploaded it to Audacity, which was the audio editing software that we had chosen to use.

Stop 1: Tongtong

Stop 2: Steve

Stop 3: Hermione

Stop 4: Eliza

Stop 5: Ashley

Stop 6: Jessica

Stop 7: Emmeline

Stop 8: Jessica for written script/ Tongtong and Eliza for audio editing

Editing the Audio

Once we had uploaded all our recordings to Audacity, we realised a ‘humming’ noise on all the recordings, and wanted this removed as it was deemed to ruin the overall finish to the audio guide. We had a helping hand, however, to help us with our problem. Wayne, from the E-Learning Development Team at the University of York, stated that the noise was from a charging laptop, and helped group member Emmeline very successfully remove the humming noise without distorting the voice on the recording.

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The process of sound reduction of audio on Audacity

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The process of sound reduction of audio on Audacity

By sampling the humming sound and then using noise reduction, we managed to remove the sound from all eight recordings, and Emmeline certainty became the expert in this area!

We then all spent time going through our recordings, cutting out all the unneeded parts, and also adding sound effects to their recordings to ‘bring it to life’ for the audience. For example, Hermione in stop 3 added bird songs downloaded from iMovie. The start of stop 1 and the end of stop 8 have been edited to have music from the era to complete the audio guide, and as I mentioned above ‘to bring the audio alive’ to the audience.

Once all our editing was done, we all played our recordings out loud to the group and noted down changes that needed to be added for the final product. Feedback featured mainly around length of pauses and was quickly edited in Audacity. However, as we played all our audio we realised that some of the recordings didn’t exactly match the wording on the scripts and so needed to be corrected to have a perfect match. This was important as the scripts will also be downloadable with the guide for people to use.

The final audio guide product has now been recorded and edited and worked on really hard by the group, and is now coming to its final stages of being a completed audio guide. Finishing touches and double checking of all audio will be made, and then compressed into MP3 files for the public to use, and hopefully thoroughly enjoyed around the site of Breary Banks. We hope the voices and music within the audio guide will evoke an emotional response and really bring the site alive, which was our main project aim, making all these weeks of hard work worthwhile.

 

Testing day

We’d planned the stops, we’d drafted the scripts and we’d chosen the sound effects. Now we needed to test our finalised product.

Four members of our group went out to Breary Banks on a sunny Friday morning, armed with scripts, questionnaires, and dictaphones with the simple aim of making sure our audio guide worked. We wanted to ensure that our directions were clear, that the emotions could be felt for every stop, and if any improvements needed to be made. In order to test out our audio guide we wanted to take people who weren’t too familiar with the site itself. However, because this was just a pilot test we didn’t have the resources to take up members of the public. So we decided that the people who were working on the excavation at Breary Banks would form our pilot group.

 Our plan was simple. Two members of our group would take up a group of two testers and read out the script for each stop. In order to ensure that our directions were correct we would stagger the start of the tour to ensure that tour 1 was out of sight the moment tour 2 would be at stop 1. Once we had read the script we would then ask the questions that formed a part of our questionnaire and note down the answers. This would tell us whether each script was doing what we wanted to achieve for each stop. This format would be replicated for all eight stops, before we would take our group aside and record any other thoughts they had about the audio guide including anything they would like to improve or get rid of.

 By the end of the day we had given a tour to four groups, three of which were students and one where the excavation leader had decided to join us. For the student tours, the feedback was quite similar. They liked the emotion, which was present for many of the stops. They enjoyed interacting with the landscape, especially when the script explained the story behind certain features. We also had aspects we needed to improve on. Many students wanted Stop 7 to expand on the hospital story as they felt it needed to be fleshed out and some people were unsure about a direction in Stop 4. The excavation leader had a few comments on our archaeological facts and his comments were instrumental in helping us improve the directions in Stop 5 and 6. This feedback helped us make final changes to our scripts before we started recording the final product. None of this would have been possible without the participation of our test group.

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Adjustments to our script. Work done by the group

On the coach journey back to the University of York, we were now ready to make any necessary change before we embarked on the greatest journey of all, the recording of our audio guide. As you finish reading this post, spare a thought for the other half of our group who spent their Friday working on the brochure when a power cut hit King’s Manor…

Stop 6-The Forgotten Prisoners of Breary Banks

Breary Banks, as we have discovered in our research, has a vast and complex history. However, the Germans who resided here at the prisoner of war camp from 1917-1919 are often forgotten. In our audio guide therefore we wanted to dedicate a stop to them, telling their story of their time here at Breary banks in Colsterdale.

Below is a final draft of the script I have written for stop 6 of our audio guide-

 “As you walk, take each step slowly – this is where many more before you would have walked down to the chapel for Sunday morning service 100 years ago.

As the British Army moved out of Breary Banks here at Colsterdale, it became a German officer prisoner of war camp from 1917-1919. Life here at Breary Banks was very different from what one might imagine a prisoner of war camp to be. Even a delegation of Swiss inspectors regarded it to be one of the best camps in England. Although this didn’t stop the prisoners from deeply missing home and their fellow soldiers still fighting in the war. 

Continue walking down the hill and take in the vast landscape, the hills, the grass and the smells of the Yorkshire dales. While he was here, Johannes Rienau, kept a diary, writing details about his time as a prisoner here. Johannes regularly described the beautiful landscape of the area you see around you. On the 25th of November 1917 he wrote this entry:

“on the ice covered snow gleams the Sunday morning sun. A fairy tale splendor as if it was dusted with fine veil, the heights of Colsterdale lie within the wood. The bare rock, the green meadows and the grey human dwellings here before our eyes. And above all, there is a high, pure, blue sky. Astounded as yet we are prisoners! And yet there is a war!”

 For the 500 German men at Breary Banks, the terrors of the Western Front were quickly forgotten. Rather than fighting, the prisoners indulged in a variety of leisure activities such as chess, hockey, football and volleyball on the sports field here at the camp. They also had music and art classes and a library of 800 books! 

Though many enjoyed life here at Breary Banks, there were some German prisoners who were ever so eager to return to fighting, and newspapers from the time documented the bizarre ways that some of them attempted to escape. Heinz Justus, who was brought to the camp in 1917 attempted to escape dressed as a woman! However, he didn’t get very far and was picked up by guards and returned back to camp. 

If you look to the field on the left hand side, you may see some unusual concrete pilings within the grass. Do you know why they are there?

These are the remains of the foundations of the military huts built here at Colsterdale. These huts would have housed 21 German prisoners of war each, sat around, eating their dinner, opening up letters and presents from their family, and talking about how much they miss home.

To continue our story, carry on walking down the road till you reach the chapel. For a moment pause there and see if you can notice anything about the chapel. Can you tell when it was built? Then carry on around the bend in the road till you reach a wooden gate on the left.”

 

Sources used-

Brooke, C., 2014. How we fed lobster and game to PoWs at Christmas: Long-lost diary reveals German officers held in Yorkshire Dales enjoyed festive feast and were even given presents. Mail Online. (Online)

Familienkunde in Norddeutschland, Tagebuch eines Kriegsgefangenen in England. (Online)

Lucy Moore, N. P., 2015. Great War Britain Leeds: Remembering 1914-18. Leeds: Leeds museums and Galleries .

Nottingham Evening Post, Saturday 26th August 1917, Huns Officers Escape. The British Newspaper Archive. (Online)

Written by Jessica Chatburn