Gazette Archive 12/11/99
HEY KIDS, TREES
Review by Judith Mattart
The video takes us through the business of processing trees to lumber. It begins with a scan of the forest in Autumn with all the red leaves and moves from a depiction of trees being felled to the trip through the sawmill. Attention is paid to debarking, green sawing, and the end uses for the sawn lumber as well as the wood by-products such as sawdust, woodchips, and bark.
We see a truck full of discard logs headed for the papermill, a farmer throwing sawdust on the floor of his milking room, and processed lumber being delivered to a construction site. There is a lot of noisy machinery for the youngsters' entertainment in the form of skiploaders, backhoes, and forklifts, elevators, chutes, industrial saws, and the interesting "skidder" which hauls the trees from the forest to the processing area.
The film ends with a varied display of the toys, furniture and paper products we use every day which are lumber by-products. (I wonder if the anti-logging groups know where their toilet paper is going to come from if they ever succeed in shutting down the logging industry entirely).
It is interesting to note that the narrator mentions reforestation and quotes figures provided by the U.S. Forest Service to indicate that although Vermont previously was only 30% forested, as of the date of the film production 80% of the state was forested. The narrator goes on to point out that forested areas have increased in size especially since 1983, in spite of an uninterrupted logging industry. He implies that the logging industry has contributed to the reforestation effort but nothing is shown in the video to point up industry participation.
I have a couple of criticisms of the video:
1. Much of the filming was done on cloudy days resulting in some obscured and outright invisible action.
2. Although the cover and delivery appear to be geared toward the elementary population, the narrator used 5 syllable words which I'm sure would be incomprehensible to small children, making the video unsuited to the very classroom use for which it is apparently designed. (and would be best presented).
3. In the first few scenes the panoramic shots did not do the forest justice. The time would have been better spent showing a sawmill employee helping to plant seedlings, as this is the point where the narrator touched on "Renewable resources".
4. The toys, furniture and other objects at the end were not given enough exposure. The best ones should have been presented individually accompanied by appropriate comments. I especially liked the part where someone set down a little cupboard next to a little chair. There should have been more of this instead of panning a cluttered shop.
5. The products should have been shown individually along with commentary to reinforce their importance and the fact that they could not be made available from a source other than trees. (which is the basis for the video in the first place).
6. This is a humorless presentation. The only possible light moment is when the fawn appears in the meadow, but even that little guy is very sedate. He could have kicked up his heels a little.