Want the Bald Explorer on DVD? A funding idea.

I have been asked by a few people, my father included, to have the episodes of the Bald Explorer made available on DVD. While it is lovely to have each exploration online either on Vimeo or Youtube and embedded into the website, there is an audience who enjoy what I do who either do not have access to the Internet or would prefer to watch the programmes in the comfort of their living room rather than hunched over a PC or laptop. The length of the video and the style lends itself to a television preview.

Other people have said they enjoy the videos so much but do not like having to wait between each episode. They fully understand the time it takes to produce an episode of the Bald Explorer, but it is a shame to have to twiddle their thumbs while I go off make the next one.

So I have been thinking of crowdfunding and the possibilities of adopting that funding source for a number of special episodes to be shot all in one go and I would be interested in my viewers opinions and thoughts on that.

The idea is simply this. I would like to produce a four episode box set DVD of the Bald Explorer, each programme lasting 30 minutes and each as part of an over all theme. I would be looking at pre-orders of £9.99 plus postage and packing for the DVDs and a target of 500 sales. This would give me £5000 production budget to be mainly spent on travelling costs, hotels, sustenance and fees for additional helpers. Sales above that figure would help to pay for my time and/or go towards future episodes.

I don’t think 500 sales is too unreasonable to ask, if the idea is promoted and placed on a crowdfunding website.

The four programmes I have in mind is based on one overall theme and that is about the phases of English towns. Over the two hours, the Bald Explorer would be travelling across England to discover the reasons why towns evolve and what causes them to grow. He would be looking at the stages of architecture that reflect the various periods of growth and the thinking behind them. From town walls, castles, stately homes, assembly rooms, promenades, quays, docks, mills and Victorian terraces to canal, new roads, back streets, public houses and theatres, towns have a huge story to tell and I could only scrape the surface.

At the same time, the Bald Explorer would also be building a computer graphics town featuring all the aspects he has discovered on the way resulting in a generic ‘Every Town’ CG model.

It is early days at getting the full details of the project on paper, but I am sure it would be interesting to my regular viewers and hopefully to a new audience too. So what do you think? Have any experience with crowdfunding? Does it work? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Podcast Walk: Hope Bowdler.

Harriet and Richard pop out for a walk in the July sunshine in Shropshire. This time they are exploring the delights of Hope Bowdler, which is near Church Stretton and close to Caer Caradoc.

To quote Wikipedia: Hope Bowdler Hill rises to the north of the village, with a number of summits, the three tallest of which are 426 metres (1,398 ft), 410m and 393m. The Gaer Stone (or Gaerstones) is part of this hill. On Hope Bowdler Hill you can go on 3.5 mile walk that will take you over the hill and a couple others in the area. This walk will also take you to Gaerstone, Wilstone hill and towards Church Stretton before it takes you back to Hope Bowdler.

A view from the top of Hope Bowdler Hill.

It is one of those walks that is over shadowed by the like of the suppose hill that Caratacus was defeated by the Roman’s in AD51 during his last stand to defend Britain against these dreaded foes. That said, it is worth taking a short detour to find one of the many public pathways to clamber to the top and take in the magnificent views.

Legend also has it that a millennium later another famous rebel led a revolt against the Normans. The rebel was Edric Silvaticus also known as ‘Edric the Wild’, he was a Saxon that fought against the Normans in the area of Hope Bowdler after the Conquest of 1066.

Download as Podcast.

Video: The Stonemasons Inn

Arjen Westerdijk talks about the history and facilities of the Stonemasons Inn, a family pub in Petworth, West Sussex.

This pub was featured in the Petworth episode of the Bald Explorer and Arjen was kind enough to let us bring our cameras in and shoot a short sequence about the origins of the Inn. It had various names over the years including The Trap and the Mason’s Arms. The stone cutting theme probably arose because of the famous Petworth marble (or Sussex Marble as it was also called) that was quarried in the area.


What is lovely are the names of the previous owners of the individual houses that now make up the whole of the pull which have been placed above the entrances to the relevant sections of the building. The Stonemasons Inn dates back as far as the 17th Century, as far as anyone can tell, and probably before as it is on the main Chichester to London Road with a junction close by taking you to Horsham and it is clear that travellers would have liked to have rested on route.

You can find out more about the pub from their website at: www.theStonemasonsInn.co.uk.

The Petworth Emigrants

Leigh Lawson author and historian talks to Richard Vobes, the Bald Explorer about the Petworth Emigrants who left Sussex in the early 19th century and headed oi upper Canada. Leigh explains the reason for their going and the hardships along the way.

This is a supplementary video as part of the Petworth project ‘The Bald Explorer goes to Petworth’. Check out the video on the Episodes page where you can also find out about the House of Correction, the old railway station and the boys school that was bombed during the Second World War.

Leigh Lawson together with Shelia Haines wrote a book on the life and works of Thomas Sockett who was a principle player in the Petworth Emigration story. The book is entitled ‘Poor Cottages and Proud Palaces’ and is available from all good book shops.

For more information about the Petworth Emigrants do check out the website: www.pertworthemigrations.com

Leigh’s also worked on these other books which she was a researcher:  Assisting Emigration To Upper Canada by Wendy Cameron and Mary McDougall Maude and English Immigrant Voices edited by Wendy Cameron, Sheila Haines and Mary McDougall Maud.



Pullmans at Petworth

As part of the recent filming for the Bald Explorer in Petworth, I took a trip to the old railway station which lies a little to the south of the town. It is no longer in active service having been closed in the 1960’s but in its day was part of the Pulborough to Midhurst line. It was built specially for Edward 7th so that he could access Goodwood racecourse and friends living close by, but was naturally also ultilised by the locals.

Gudmund Olafsson purchased the station along with the Pullman coaches as a bed and breakfast business and has been restoring the property and getting rid of the rotten wood. It now looks splendid and is definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in the area. It is a destination ‘hotel’ with much ambiance of the golden era of steam travel and there is nothing finer than sitting on the station platform and sipping tea in silver service dreaming of gone by times.

For bookings and further information you can check out the website at www.Old-Station.co.uk

New Graphics Style for Videos

A sample from a test render of the new pen and ink graphics style from the Petworth episode.
I have developed a new graphical style for the next Bald Explorer episode, the one in which I visit the rural town of Petworth in West Sussex. (Technically I refer to this as episode five even though ep 4 hasn’t been shot yet. The reason for that is I start number four in Shropshire in search of Caratacus and the weather has been so bad I haven’t managed to get back to complete the shooting!)

This is a pen and ink render, with a background layer of lit solid material. Both are married together in the compositor and positioned on a sheet of paper to represent pages of an old book, the sort you occasionally find in dusty libraries or these days in the free section of Google Books. I love old historical books, both in the way they are written and presented and it seemed very fitting for the now long gone buildings that I am exploring to be reproduced in this ‘drawn’ style. The only difference with mine is that the buildings, such as this one above, the old manor house at Petworth, (demolished in the late 18th century to make way for the Georgian stately home we see today), is going to be animated so we can view all around it.

I have come on leaps and bounds with the CG and have enjoyed the challenge of creating these ‘vanished’ pieces of our historic past. I do hope you will enjoy the whole experience when the episode is finally released.