Saturday, 30 August 2008

Life In Cold Blood

I have to say one of the most exciting things I've ever seen was the clip in a Life in Cold Blood episode which I had been a part of filming. You see last year (after much begging) the brilliant Paul Williams, researcher for the BBC's Life in Cold Blood, invited me along to Failand studios for a few days to assist with filming.

To be brutally honest probably the most aid I provided was holding the waterspray to ensure the frogs were kept moist! We were trying to get a shot of this beautiful green frog landing on a leaf for a clip which would be played in slow motion:

For those of you who might have an inkling toward feeling cheated when you discover that some shots aren't taken in the wild, firstly imagine yourself in a humid climate being supped upon by leaches and ticks holding a camcorder which must not get moist and pointing it at a leaf in the hope that a frog might just come along and pick your leaf to land on... and secondly let me tell you that we stood there for two hours trying to get the perfect shot! It's no easy feat even when it is staged! And of course lets remember that importantly we're not faking unnatural behaviour; we're pretty sure that scientists have established that frogs land on leaves!
**NB: The BBC also has a very open policy where such filming is necessary - just look at Planet Earth's extras and those at the end of episodes in the Galapagos series!

Now I'm no professional cameraman so I was very excited when they did consider my idea of panning out and cutting the shot around whichever leaf the frog chose to land on (because it never bloody seemed to be our leaf!), BUT these BBC cameramen are perfectionists! Firstly they emphasised that they were shooting in HD (High Definition) and with a cut shot the quality would be reduced, and secondly no, they had set up the lighting perfectly for that leaf, they had a highly professional assistant spraying it evenly to keep it moist (yours truly) and it simply would not do for our friend to land on a poorly lit leaf. This is what is known as audience loyalty. These guys spend hours perfecting things so that the 3second shot is absolutely spot on for you, the viewer!
If you do see Life in Cold Blood: Land Invaders, note that in the shot between 20.59 - 21.25 minutes the frog take off was beautiful: given how long we had to wait hoping the frog would get the urge to leap I'm glad it was well worth it!

I do think Life in Cold Blood is an amazing program but it isn't without its limits. I suppose it may be a personal preference of my own that I like programs where you are given a chance to follow a story through completely. The nature of such immensely factual programs as Life in Cold Blood means that there is an inevitable tradeoff between showing the complete story of each behaviour and showing as many different behaviours as possible.
I did feel that some stories in the series are cut off a tad short but (without sounding too BJohnson) I don't presume to have greater editting skills than those giants at the BBC and I can't imagine looking at twenty odd hours of film with the task of cutting it down to just one hour!

So I suggest you do get onto the BBC iPlayer and watch whichever episode they're currently showing, because at the very very least it's a fascinating example of brilliant filmmaking, and there's a handy exerpt at the end of each episode to tell you how some of it's done!

Friday, 29 August 2008

David Attenborough

Like anyone interested in Wildlife and the media I'm naturally a fan of David Attenborough's work.

I'm fortunate enough to have met him once or twice as well and can tell you he's a really friendly man and he loves a glass of red!

This clip on youtube I think is a good representation of his character. He's openly passionate about wildlife and not afraid of making fun of himself... if only the commissioners would let him show it, imagine the programs we could be watching!

Jonathon Ross meets David Attenborough

Why blog?

So how did I get here?

I was getting my good friend Paul Williams to read over the hundredth edit of my application to the BBC and he said "Where's the stuff about multiplatforming?"... Well, I'm a big fan of giving my opinions and sharing my creativity, thus the new album on my facebook profile "A Touch of Creativity" but it's long been time that I "went pro".

So yes I'll admit I have started this blog almost directly as a result of applying for a job but it's clear at least to me that I should have done it ages ago (not least because facebook's terms and conditions prevent me from wanting to put my best photographs online!).

I won't assume to expect any readers but if someone should venture on here I hope they find themselves interested and enlightened.

Please bear with me while I learn how to make the page more navigatable and pretty!

Top of Page