Bonus blog post: You’re on Candid Camera!

We have mentioned this time-lapse camera a few times now, but I wanted to go into a little more detail. This is a project coming out of the Interpretation & Education Department. I am currently working on this MII (Mobile Interpretation Initiative) Tour. Guided tours will continue as they always have, but we are looking at adding self-guiding options using a mobile device that we will provide to the visitors. One thing that came up repeatedly in conversations is that we need to interpret the spaces when they are in transition and show all the work that went into the spaces when the projects are complete. That is where the time lapse video comes in.

Through MediaCombo (https://www.mediacombo.net/), Saul Metnick (https://saulmetnick.com/) was hired to build and install a time lapse camera system that would work in the Dining Room and could be left in place for the duration of the project (approximately 18 months). Director of Preservation Phil Mark was vital to the installation. He knows the Great House better than anyone and he is the one most impacted by the installation. We needed to make sure that he and his workmen could work around the camera.

While the camera comes down through the ceiling, it is not actually attached to anything. Above the ceiling there is a base that is resting on top of the beams in the attic. We did not have to drill into or damage any “original” part of the Great House because the ceiling was redone in the 1930s. Saul Metnick and Phil Mark (with minimal assistance from me) spent a day and a half building the support for the camera and installing the equipment. We were doing a final test on the camera when the movers arrived to take out the furniture. A little training on the computer for me and we were off and running.

So far the camera has caught various activities. Phil Mark is the most frequent star, but numerous tours have also been photographed. We are catching everything from mundane activities (like cleaning up) to major changes (like the removal of the 1930s paneling). The camera was taking a photo every 45 seconds when the furniture was being moved out. The camera took a photo every 5 minutes when the 1930s plaster and woodwork was being removed. The camera is currently taking a photo every 20 minutes because the activity in the Dining Room has slowed down. To change the interval, all I have to do is open the protective case and hit a few buttons. It is a very easy system for me to manage.

Stay tuned for more posts about the MII Tour!

-Abigail Newkirk, Director of Education