Behind the Screens

You may have seen how recently we have been playing with a green screen to make a very fun little video about Sikkim’s climatic zones.  You may be wondering, what is going on behind the scenes?

The 'snow' moment on the green screen

The following pictures will hopefully give you an idea of what our green-screen (or ‘chroma key’ as it’s known as in the ‘Film Biz’) filming was like.  Come behind the scenes  screens with us at WSBEOrchids!


Playing with a green screen.

What happens when you cross a project relating to the Himalayas, a team of enthusiastic people, a green cloth and a lot of little bits of paper? I thought not!

You may or may not know that when filming in front of a green screen (or cloth in our case) you can make yourself appear to be anywhere in the world.  We tried this today and think that the results are quite impressive!


Setting seed for the future

One of the most popular tasks at Writhlington is pollinating plants to produce seed to use in the orchid laboratory. We produce most of our seed this way which means that we can be absolutely sure that seedlings are the correct species and keep photographs of the parent plants. The job of pollination goes the the student in charge of that group of plants and since Cattleya percivaliana was in flower last week it was Heather that had the job of polinating it.

Pollinating Cattleya percivaliana

Seedlings of Cattleya species are always popular and we find most of them produce good strong seedlings. In the photo you can see that Heather is using a thin stick to transfer pollen to the stigmatic surface. If pollination is successful she will see the seed capsule swelling behind the flower in a week or so. The seed will be ripe and ready to sow in about twelve months. We will keep you informed on progress.


Building a Mountain!

Yesterday was a rather exciting day at Writhlington – an inset day!  We are still amazed at the amount of work you can get done in the labs without those annoying lessons getting in the way!

This inset was, however, to be unlike any preceding it.  We turned the classroom into a workshop and set about building a mountain.  This would be no ordinary mountain though!  This mountain would be ‘The Himalayas’ and have space for two orchids at the correct altitudes on the scale.  It would also have a table that is exactly big enough for a laptop and a large book.

No easy task, I’m sure you’ll agree, but a large piece of MDF, some chicken wire and a lot of modrock later (yes – an awful lot of modrock!) we had it finished!

This model will make up the center piece for my entry in the National Science Competition at The Big Bang on the 10th-13th March this year.  The before, during, and after shots of this building project can be found below or at our Picasa web Albums.


Spring Arrives at Writhlington

At Writhlington school we always feel that spring has arrived when our plants of Coelogyne cristata start to flower. Matt isn’t the tallest member of greenhouse club but he still shows the scale of this magnificent plant. Coelogyne cristata featured as one of our favourite orchids in an earlier blog and I am sure you can see why. Its flowers are a beautiful crystal white ..rather reminicent of the snow we have all had enough of this year.

Coelogyne cristata is a species our expedition to Sikkim had the great pleasure of finding in the wildin April 2009 growing at 1200m in mossy forest near Tinkitam. This Writhlington plant is really heavy. We aren’t quite sure how we will carry it to the new greenhouse next month but are confident we will think of something.

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