Filming at Portus – The Wildlife and Environment

Adam Warren at Portus on the Castellum Aquae
Adam Warren at Portus on the Castellum Aquae

I’m Adam Warren, a learning designer at Southampton University’s Centre for Innovation in Technologies and Education, and over the past six months I’ve worked alongside Simon, Graeme, Dragana, Peter and the rest of the team to help them develop the course. In particular I’d like to highlight the work of my CITE colleagues Kerry Small and Mimi Lee, who visited Portus last year and filmed and edited all the videos – as you can imagine they had to put in a heroic amount of effort to get nearly 70 videos completed to a very tight deadline!

I’ve just returned from two days filming at Portus, creating a set of short videos that aim to answer the questions that have frequently arisen in the course comments, such as ‘where did the people who worked at Portus live?’ and ‘can you show how photogrammetry works?’. For me, it was an long-awaited opportunity to visit Portus in person; I love visiting archaeological sites and have been to Rome several times and Ostia Antica twice. The site did not disappoint; it really is on a huge scale although it wasn’t until I walked from the Palazzo Imperiale to the Portico di Claudio that I truly grasped how enormous it is. Another surprise was how green the site is and the richness of the environment and wildlife – I hadn’t realised that it was also a nature reserve. You can see some of my photos on the Portus Flickr group.

We decided to shoot and edit these new videos using just an iPad – the plan was that I would travel light and upload them to YouTube while I was still in Italy. In the event, the uploading took so long that most of the videos had to wait until I got back to the UK, but overall I’m really impressed at both the quality of the video and the ease of editing – most of which I did at the airport and on the flight home! We used a professional microphone running through an iRig pre-amp to get decent sound, although there are a few videos where people spoke louder during recording than they did during set-up and so some clipping is noticeable – sorry! Some of the lighting conditions were also challenging – the contrast between full sunlight and shade is too much for the iPad’s camera sensor. I used Filmic to record, iMovie to edit, and VideoGrade to do some colour correction on indoor shots.

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