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thank you. i have only got 18 minutes to explain something that lasts for hours and days, so i'd better get started. let's start with a clipfrom al jazeera's listening post. richard gizbert: norway is a country that gets relatively little media coverage. even the elections this past weekpassed without much drama. and that's the norwegianmedia in a nutshell: not much drama.
a few years back, norway's public tv channel nrk decided to broadcast live coverageof a seven-hour train ride -- seven hours of simple footage, a train rolling down the tracks. norwegians, more than a million of themaccording to the ratings, loved it. a new kind of reality tv show was born, and it goes against all the rulesof tv engagement. there is no story line, no script,
no drama, no climax, and it's called slow tv. for the past two months, norwegians have been watching a cruise ship's journey up the coast, and there's a lot of fog on that coast. executives at norway'snational broadcasting service are now considering broadcastinga night of knitting nationwide. on the surface, it sounds boring, because it is,
but something about this tv experiment has gripped norwegians. so we sent the listening post'smarcela pizarro to oslo to find out what it is,but first a warning: viewers may find some of the imagesin the following report disappointing. (laughter) thomas hellum: and then followsan eight-minute story on al jazeera about some strangetv programs in little norway. al jazeera. cnn. how did we get there?
we have to go back to 2009, when one of my colleaguesgot a great idea. where do you get your ideas? in the lunchroom. so he said, why don't we makea radio program marking the day of the german invasionof norway in 1940. we tell the story at the exact timeduring the night. wow. brilliant idea, except this was just a couple of weeksbefore the invasion day.
so we sat in our lunchroom and discussed what other storiescan you tell as they evolve? what other things take a really long time? so one of us came up with a train. the bergen railway had its 100-year anniversary that year it goes from western norwayto eastern norway, and it takes exactly the same timeas it did 40 years ago, over seven hours. (laughter) so we caught our commissioning editors in oslo, and we said,
we want to make a documentaryabout the bergen railway, and we want to make it in full length, and the answer was, "yes, but how long will the program be?" "oh," we said, "full length." "yes, but we mean the program." and back and forth. luckily for us, they met us with laughter,very, very good laughter, so one bright day in september,
we started a program that we thoughtshould be seven hours and four minutes. actually, it turned outto be seven hours and 14 minutes due to a signal failureat the last station. we had four cameras, three of them pointing outto the beautiful nature. some talking to the guests,some information. (video) train announcement: we will arrive at haugastã¸l station. th: and that's about it, but of course, also
the 160 tunnels gave us the opportunityto do some archives. narrator [in norwegian]: then a bit offlirting while the food is digested. the last downhill stretchbefore we reach our destination. we pass mjã¸lfjell station. then a new tunnel. th: and now we thought, yes,we have a brilliant program. it will fit for the 2,000train spotters in norway. we brought it on air in november 2009. but no, this was far more attractive.
this is the five biggest tv channelsin norway on a normal friday, and if you look at nrk2 over here, look what happened when they put onthe bergen railway show: 1.2 million norwegianswatched part of this program. (applause) and another funny thing: when the host on our main channel, after they have got news for you, she said, "and on our second channel,
the train has nownearly reached myrdal station." thousands of peoplejust jumped on the train on our second channel like this.(laughter) this was also a huge successin terms of social media. it was so nice to see all the thousandsof facebook and twitter users discussing the same view, talking to each other as if they wereon the same train together. and especially, i like this one.it's a 76-year-old man. he's watched all the program,
and at the end station, he rises upto pick up what he thinks is his luggage, and his head hit the curtain rod, and he realized he isin his own living room. so that's strong and living tv. four hundred and thirty-sixminute by minute on a friday night, and during that first night, the first twitter message came:why be a chicken? why stop at 436when you can expand that to 8,040, minute by minute,
and do the iconic journey in norway, the coastal ship journey hurtigrutenfrom bergen to kirkenes, almost 3,000 kilometers,covering most of our coast. it has 120-year-old,very interesting history, and literally takes part in lifeand death along the coast. so just a week after the bergen railway, we called the hurtigruten companyand we started planning for our next show. we wanted to do something different. the bergen railway was a recorded program.
so when we sat in our editing room, we watched this picture --it's all ã…l station -- we saw this journalist. we had called him, we had spoken to him, and when we left the station, he took this picture of usand he waved to the camera, and we thought, what if more people knewthat we were on board that train? would more people show up?
what would it look like? so we decided our next project,it should be live. we wanted this picture of us on the fjordand on the screen at the same time. so this is not the first timenrk had been on board a ship. this is back in 1964, when the technical managershave suits and ties and nrk rolled all its equipmenton board a ship, and 200 meters out of the shore,transmitting the signal back, and in the machine room,they talked to the machine guy,
and on the deck, they havesplendid entertainment. so being on a ship, it's not the first time. but five and a half days in a row,and live, we wanted some help. and we asked our viewers out there,what do you want to see? what do you want us to film?how do you want this to look? do you want us to make a website?what do you want on it? and we got some answersfrom you out there, and it helped us a very lotto build the program. so in june 2011,
23 of us went on boardthe hurtigruten coastal ship and we set off. (music) i have some really strong memoriesfrom that week, and it's all about people. this guy, for instance, he's head of researchat the university in tromsã¸ and i will show you a piece of cloth, this one. it's the other strong memory.
it belongs to a guy called erik hansen. and it's people like those twowho took a firm grip of our program, and together with thousandsof others along the route, they made the program what it became. they made all the stories. this is karl. he's in the ninth grade. it says, "i will be a littlelate for school tomorrow." he was supposed to bein the school at 8 a.m. he came at 9 a.m., and he didn'tget a note from his teacher,
because the teacherhad watched the program. how did we do this? yes, we took a conference roomon board the hurtigruten. we turned it intoa complete tv control room. we made it all work, of course, and then we took along 11 cameras. this is one of them. this is my sketch from february, and when you give this sketchto professional people
in the norwegian broadcasting company nrk, you get some cool stuff back. and with some very creative solutions. (video) narrator [in norwegian]: run it up and down. this is norway's mostimportant drill right now. it regulates the height of a bowcamera in nrk's live production, one of 11 that capturegreat shots from the ms nord-norge. eight wires keep the camera stable. cameraman: i work on different camera solutions.
they're just toolsused in a different context. th: another camera is this one.it's normally used for sports. it made it possible for us to takeclose-up pictures of people 100 kilomteres away, like this one. (laughter) people called us and asked,how is this man doing? he's doing fine. everything went well. we also could take pictures ofpeople waving at us, people along the route,thousands of them,
and they all had a phone in their hand. and when you take a picture of them,and they get the message, "now we are on tv, dad,"they start waving back. this was waving tv for five and a half days, and people get so extremely happy when they can send a warm messageto their loved ones. it was also a great successon social media. on the last day, we mether majesty the queen of norway, and twitter couldn't quite handle it.
and we also, on the web, during this week we streamedmore than 100 years of video to 148 nations, and the websites are still thereand they will be forever, actually, because hurtigruten was selected to be part of the norwegianunesco list of documents, and it's also inthe guinness book of records as the longest documentary ever. but it's a long program,
so some watched part of it,like the prime minister. some watched a little bit more. it says, "i haven't usedmy bed for five days." and he's 82 years old,and he hardly slept. he kept watching becausesomething might happen, though it probably won't. (laughter) this is the numberof viewers along the route. you can see the famous trollfjord and a day after, all-time high for nrk2.
if you see the four biggestchannels in norway during june 2011, they will look like this, and as a tv producer, it's a pleasureto put hurtigruten on top of it. it looks like this: 3.2 million norwegianswatched part of this program, and we are only five million here. even the passengers on boardthe hurtigruten coastal ship -- (laughter) -- they chose to watched the tellyinstead of turning 90 degrees
and watching out the window. so we were allowed to be part of people's living room with this strange tv program, with music, nature, people. and slow tv was now a buzzword, and we started looking for other thingswe could make slow tv about. so we could either take something longand make it a topic, like with the railway and the hurtigruten, or we could take a topic and make it long.
this is the last project.it's the peep show. it's 14 hours of birdwatchingon a tv screen, actually 87 days on the web. we have made 18 hoursof live salmon fishing. it actually took three hoursbefore we got the first fish, and that's quite slow. we have made 12 hours of boat rideinto the beautiful telemark canal, and we have made another train ridewith the northern railway, and because this we couldn't do live,we did it in four seasons
just to give the vieweranother experience on the way. so our next project got ussome attention outside norway. this is from the colbert reporton comedy central. (video) stephen colbert: i've got my eyeon a wildly popular program from norway called "national firewood night," which consisted of mostly people in parkaschatting and chopping in the woods, and then eight hours of a fire burning in a fireplace. (laughter) it destroyed the other top norwegian shows, like "so you thinkyou can watch paint dry"
and "the amazing glacier race." and get this, almost 20 percentof the norwegian population tuned in, 20 percent. th: so, when wood fire and wood choppingcan be that interesting, why not knitting? so on our next project, we used more than eight hoursto go live from a sheep to a sweater, and jimmy kimmel in the abc show, he liked that.
(video) jimmy kimmel: even the peopleon the show are falling asleep, and after all that,the knitters actually failed to break the world record. they did not succeed, but remember the old norwegian saying, it's not whether you winor lose that counts. in fact, nothing counts, and death is coming for us all. th: exactly. so why does this stand out? this is so completely differentto other tv programming.
we take the viewer on a journeythat happens right now in real time, and the viewer gets the feelingof actually being there, actually being on the train, on the boat, and knitting together with others, and the reason i thinkwhy they're doing that is because we don't edit the timeline. it's important thatwe don't edit the timeline, and it's also importantthat what we make slow tv about is something that we all can relate to,that the viewer can relate to,
and that somehow has a root in our culture. this is a picture from last summer when we traveled the coastagain for seven weeks. and of course this is a lot of planning,this is a lot of logistics. so this is the working planfor 150 people last summer, but more important is what you don't plan. you don't plan what's going to happen. you have to justtake your cameras with you. it's like a sports event.
you rig them and you see what's happening. so this is actuallythe whole running order for hurtigruten, 134 hours,just written on one page. we didn't know anything morewhen we left bergen. so you have to let the viewersmake the stories themselves, and i'll give you an example of that. this is from last summer, and as a tv producer, it's a nice picture, but nowyou can cut to the next one.
but this is slow tv, so you have to keep this picture until it really starts hurting your stomach, and then you keep it a little bit longer, and when you keep it that long, i'm sure some of you nowhave noticed the cow. some of you have seen the flag. some of you start wondering,is the farmer at home? has he left? is he watching the cow? and where is that cow going?
so my point is, the longeryou keep a picture like this, and we kept it for 10 minutes, you start makingthe stories in your own head. that's slow tv. so we think that slow tv isone nice way of telling a tv story, and we think that wecan continue doing it, not too often, once or twice a year,so we keep the feeling of an event, and we also think thatthe good slow tv idea, that's the idea when people say,
"oh no, you can't put that on tv." when people smile, it might bea very good slow idea, so after all, life is bestwhen it's a bit strange.