TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design.
I was listening to NPR this morning and heard an excerpt from this TED talk from a Norwegian photographer/ producer who aired many hours of fishing... unedited, with no commercial breaks. Millions of Norwegians watched it!
This fascinated me. All I could think of was our colloquial expression that something was so boring it was like watching grass grow.
This is part of his TED talk about making slow TV, and the reaction to it: TH is Thomas Hellum.
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 things we could make Slow TV about. So we could either take something long and 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 birdwatching on a TV screen, actually 87 days on the web. We have made 18 hours of live salmon fishing. It actually took three hours before we got the first fish, and that's quite slow. We have made 12 hours of boat ride into the beautiful Telemark Canal, and we have made another train ride with the northern railway, and because this we couldn't do live, we did it in four seasons just to give the viewer another experience on the way.
14:08 So our next project got us some attention outside Norway. This is from the Colbert Report on Comedy Central.
14:15 (Video) Stephen Colbert: I've got my eye on a wildly popular program from Norway called "National Firewood Night," which consisted of mostly people in parkas chatting 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 Think You Can Watch Paint Dry" and "The Amazing Glacier Race." And get this, almost 20 percent of the Norwegian population tuned in, 20 percent.
TH: So, when wood fire and wood chopping can be that interesting, why not knitting? So on our next project, we used more than eight hours to go live from a sheep to a sweater, and Jimmy Kimmel in the ABC show, he liked that.
15:09 (Video) Jimmy Kimmel: Even the people on 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 win or lose that counts. In fact, nothing counts, and death is coming for us all. (Laughter)
15:26 TH: Exactly. So why does this stand out? This is so completely different to other TV programming. We take the viewer on a journey that happens right now in real time, and the viewer gets the feeling of actually being there, actually being on the train, on the boat, and knitting together with others, and the reason I think why they're doing that is because we don't edit the timeline. It's important that we don't edit the timeline, and it's also important that 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 coast again for seven weeks. And of course this is a lot of planning, this is a lot of logistics. So this is the working plan for 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 just take your cameras with you. It's like a sports event. You rig them and you see what's happening. So this is actually the whole running order for Hurtigruten, 134 hours, just written on one page. We didn't know anything more when we left Bergen.
I know I could watch hours of birdwatching on TV, though I'd rather be outside doing it myself. This "slow TV" is a fascinating idea. It could never happen in the USA, where speed and distraction rule.