Saville AV has been involved in a unique educational installation at a hill farm in the Yorkshire Dales.
Nethergill Farm is the brainchild of Chris and Fiona Clark. Their aim is to demonstrate the links between food, farming and the environment, by hosting visitors on site and by capturing and broadcasting live, round-the clock video images of the farm animals, birds and wildlife to as wide an audience as possible.
The farm hosts high quality B&B and self-catering accommodation, an interactive Field Centre, a studio and much more. It’s home to native sheep breeds, rare White Shorthorn cows and calves, a working native Dales pony and multicoloured chickens. It’s also a wildlife haven for many birds including owls, plus river life such as trout, crayfish and otters.
In 2012, an overnight leisure stay by Saville installation manager Colin Etchells and a conversation with Chris Clark paved the way for a partnership which has now enabled the farm to blossom via the latest internet video technology.
Initially Saville provided a range of furniture, projection equipment and interactive whiteboards for the Field Centre. For the farm, the next stage was to install a range of cameras, control systems and recording equipment in key locations such as bird boxes, owl boxes and even under water. After receiving quotes from specialist wildlife film and video suppliers, Chris Clark approached Saville for advice and the challenge was duly accepted.
Starting last winter, the team has installed video cameras covering the farmyard, the river, the woods and the feeding area in front of one of the viewing hides. In the farmyard, fixed cameras are sited in small nesting boxes, with larger owl box installations in the woods.
Zoom cameras are mounted alongside the river to watch for otters, with others mounted on the barn looking at rare black grouse, plus an underwater camera studying the native crayfish population.
All the cameras are provided with infrared lighting for round the clock filming and linked direct to a digital video recorder in the Field Centre, or via a second DVR and a PC in the hide. Control of the cameras and the recordings is provided from an iPad app, allowing schools and conservation bodies to access and view live images from anywhere at any time – a landmark achievement for the Clarks and for the project.
For live presentations and courses on site, groups and visitors to the Field Centre are able to watch and control the images from the recordings – or live from any camera – projected on to the interactive whiteboard.
Looking back at the process, Chris Clark said: “A survey had identified issues we needed to address, but installing such delicate equipment in atrocious weather during April and May provided an interesting diversion for the installation team! We decided to go with Saville because of the people involved. We had confidence in them and they have got the system working perfectly. I would absolutely recommend Saville and working with them.”
Saville Audio Visual is providing ongoing technical support and developing additional observation, recording and streaming facilities. Colin Etchells said: “We are delighted to support Chris and Fiona’s vision and enterprise – and help the pioneering work they’re doing at Nethergill Farm.”