Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Notes on the Google Street View Tour of "Haven"

A while back my wife introduced me to a TV show called “Haven” which aired on the SyFy channel.  Haven is about a fictional town in Maine where a portion of the residents suffer from supernatural curses called “the Troubles”.  Through the experiences of FBI agent Audrey Parker, we learn about the town and its people, what the Troubles are, where they come from, and how Audrey is connected to the town.

Instead of being filmed on a studio back lot somewhere, Haven’s outdoor scenes - streets, storefronts, houses & yards, etc. were filmed in the real world, specifically in and around several communities that are part of Nova Scotia’s South Shore.  Chester and Lunenburg provided most of the principal and recurring locations, but there were also places around Hubbards, Mahone Bay, Robinson’s Corner, and more in between.  These locations not only made Haven seem more real, but they have a charm that is captivating in its own right, and (no doubt like many other people) I wanted to learn more about the area, and perhaps to visit some day.

Since these are real places, (the exteriors of) most of them have been cataloged by Google’s Street View.  Street view is an adjunct function of Google Maps and Google Earth, which allows you to zoom down to a specific map location, bring up a 360 degree panoramic view, pan around (and up and down), and “walk” the view up and down the street or road.  Google has a fleet of vehicles (mostly cars, but in some cases bicycles or other) that drive around, with special cameras and GPS trackers, imaging as much of the world as can be seen from the road.

I have found a number of places that were used in Haven - some of which were used repeatedly and frequently in street scenes, aerial views and the like, and a few that were used less often but still significant.  I collected links to these scenes, which when clicked should open your browser and go straight to a particular Street View (including the direction and zoom level I had set when I made the link).  

To get the most fun out of this you will need to familiarize yourself a bit with Google Maps and Street View - and the easiest way to do that is to just play around with it a bit.  Click one of the links.  Pan around (click and hold left mouse button on main picture and drag around and up and down), zoom in and out (scroll the mouse wheel while pointing at main picture), “walk” up and down the road (when the mouse cursor is “on the road” look for the circle with an arrow and click to move).  Look for the “film strip” below the main image and click on Street View links provided by other people or images they’ve posted.  Above all, have fun - this is all virtual, just explore and enjoy!

Some semi-random thoughts:

  • IMPORTANT - do not travel to the South Shore of Nova Scotia hoping to meet the cast or crew, or to see an episode of Haven being filmed.  The show has ended, filming ended around the end of 2014, and the final episodes aired in 2015.  If you want to go and walk some of the sidewalks your favorite characters walked, or if you just fell in love with the area and want to experience it for yourself, by all means make the trip.  But nothing you see on this site (or any other) should be construed to mean that there is still any active filming of Haven occurring - there’s not. In one or two places the Street View images linked from my blog may still show Haven-related signage, but in real life and in the present day, it's all gone.
  • Likewise, if you travel to Nova Scotia do not be disappointed if the real world locations don’t look exactly like the Google Street View photos.   Just like any photographs, these represent a point in time - a specific time on a specific day in a specific year.  (Street View photos show you the “image date” when they were taken so you can see how old they are.)  Over time, Google "re-images" sites, and they (usually) keep (some of) the archived, older versions of how locations looked available. But when I find a site and create the HTML link for it, it records not only the location and such, it should point to a SPECIFIC version (date/time) of the scene. So if the version available on Google Street View when I made the link was from August 2014, that's what you're going to see when you click the link - even if Google has since created new images.
  • The older versions of locations can usually be accessed with a little on-screen "widget" that sits in the upper left (it shows the month and year the current image was created). Click on it to access other views - older ones and maybe newer ones too). This may allow you to see some shots taken during the time the show was being filmed, so you may see "Haven" signage on some buildings, the paint jobs on buildings (and cracks in the street and so on) will match what you see on the show, etc. Also because the Street View cars are in motion when the images are taken, the views are rarely in exactly the same spot - so sometimes you get "better" views in different years.
  • The streets themselves are pretty much public, and there are various parks and gazebos that you can access.  However, some locations are private property - just because they’re visible from the road doesn’t open them to tourist traffic.  For example, the "Grey Gull" house is privately owned, “the Barn” is on private property, and so forth. For some of those you may only be able to take pictures from the road.  If you travel to the South Shore, enjoy the publicly available locations, but don’t trespass.
  • When finished, the show will have aired 78 episodes.  The show featured many locations around the NS southern coast.  An exhaustive list of locations is beyond my ability to provide, and would probably be too much anyway.  That being said, just by learning the layout of a few places, you’ll soon be recognizing scenery in a LOT of shows.  These locations got used over and over, maybe just from slightly different angles.  It starts to feel like a familiar place.
  • Or perhaps I should say familiar places - knowing that some scenes are shot in Lunenburg and some in Chester, and more important WHICH are shot in which places, can kind of throw off the continuity.  This is especially true when you see an aerial shot of Lunenburg followed by a storefront on a street in Chester, or a shot of the school in Chester followed by a street scene in Mahone Bay.  Speaking of aerial shots, you will perhaps have already noticed that Lunenburg and Chester look quite different from the air, and yet both are depicted as “Haven” (I think maybe Mahone Bay aerial shots are used as well).  Whether this will affect your ability to enjoy re-watching the show is something I can’t control or predict - but if you are worried about it, this kind of Google “pixel peeping” is probably not for you.
  • While it is not my goal to find every place used in the show, if you know the location of something significant that I should include, please feel free to write.
  • There are some locations where there are no Street View images - for example, there is no road out by the Lunenburg lighthouse, hence no Street View images.  For that one I included an overhead view, and you can access photographs submitted by Google Maps users.
  • At the risk of stating the obvious, Google Street View cameras are VERY different from television film or video cameras, and the filming is done under entirely different conditions.  The Street View cameras tend to use fairly wide-angles, while a lot of the TV shots are done from a distance and at a very high zoom.  TV shots are done when the lighting is “just right” as well (or lighting may be manipulated artificially), whereas Google Street Views are mostly on relatively clear days and when things are pretty evenly lit.  In other words, what you see on Google Street View may only bear a passing resemblance to what you see on the show, and you may have to use a little imagination to figure out how things fit.

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