Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Neil Nightingale: a follow up to Life in Cold Blood responses

As a follow up to the earlier discussion, I found this interesting comment by the Head of the BBC's NHU in response to a damning article on in vitro Wildlife filming:

Neil Nightingale writes
Steve Hewlett's piece Is It OK For Natural History Programmes to Use Fake Footage? gives a false impression of both the motivation for and our openness about filming animals in controlled conditions. He also suggests this is done for "entertainment". While the great majority of our footage is filmed entirely in the wild there are some animals and natural behaviours that are virtually impossible to obtain in the wild. If we did not sometimes film in controlled conditions we would be unable to bring these fascinating stories to audiences. It is for reasons of enlightenment and education that these techniques are necessary.

See Neil's letter in full here

You also might be interested in how open some productions really are about their studio filming. We can find out al about Wild China's filming techniques online where they give clear reasons for the use of non-wild clips.

Thank you for your comments.


Terence said...

How much stuff do they film not in the wild?

Samantha Dixon said...

Well it really varies between programmes. If you're very astute you can work out which shots are done in studios as they tend to have dark or faded backgrounds and less wider angle shots. You'll notice that because of their resounding beauty many wide angle shots are used in programmes like Planet Earth and Life in Cold Blood, which simply cannot be faked.

Some series do have to be filmed in the wild for example Springwatch, but Springwatch is a great example of how open they are about shots that aren't live but have been filmed earlier.

Productions should be very open about this studio filming and although many of the giants like the BBC and Discovery Channel are very good at this, there are those who will be less honest. I do think we'd feel betrayed if we found out about these kind of situations, which is why the BBC and others have policies to maintain audience trust.

In all, so long as behaviours aren't fabricated or made up, I am happy to watch studio-filmed clips amongst wild clips. The stories we're told just wouldn't be the same without some of these shots.

Ian said...

Brilliant. A good example of understanding nature and using its wisdom.

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