Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Gordon Buchanan & Lily the Black Bear: The Bear Family and Me

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BBC2 January 2011

 Wildlife Cameraman Gordon Buchanan experiences life with black bears Photo: BBC

Under the guidance of 'Bear Walker' Lynn Rogers (the star of Bear Walker of the Northwoods), Curly haired Scottish cameraman, Gordon Buchanan, is able to gain the trust of Lily, the black bear, and spends a year living alongside her and her new-born cub, Hope, in the wild woods of Minnesota. As he follows every twist and turn of the bears' lives, Gordon is able to document the struggle Lily faces as she tries to raise and protect Hope. In the final episode Gordon's role changes from cameraman to bodyguard as he walks with the bears to try to keep them safe. Will Hope and her mother Lily survive hunting season to den safely for the winter? What follows could change the way we think about bears forever.

Gordon Buchanan (who you may have seen presenting on the expedition series as well as Springwatch & Autumnwatch) is one of the most talented and hard working wildlife cameraman you'll ever wish to meet. With a warm sense of humour, a craving for adventure and an insatiable ability to bellow out a tune, he never fails to cheer up a gloomy day. I'm sure 'The Bear Family & Me' is going to be an entertaining, insightful and emotional journey - the first series he has fronted.

You can follow Lily the Black Bear on Facebook

Bear Hijacks Gordons Camera

Cute Cub stuck up a Tree 

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Brian Cox & Dara O Briain are Starstruck: Starlight Camera debuts on Stargazing Live

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BBC Two, 3rd, 4th & 5th January, 2011

Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain bring the wonders of the night sky to BBC2. Stargazing LIVE reveals stunning images from Earth’s most powerful telescopes - and beyond - during three nights of extraordinary astronomical events. Brian will act as guide, using his infectious enthusiasm for science and his trademark demonstrations to take Dara and the audience on a whistle stop tour of our galaxy, teaching them the basics of how to identify, image and photograph the wonders they see above them.

Mark Thompson, the resident astronomer on the The One Show will join Brian and Dara at Jodrell Bank, whilst Bang Goes The Theory’s Liz Bonnin will report live every day from Hawaii. Together the team will showcase the three biggest astronomical events of the year as Jupiter aligns with Uranus, the sun is partially eclipsed by the moon and meteors rain down across the country.

Prof Brian Cox & Dara O Briain (Photo: BBC)

HD Filming in Lowlight, Moonlight & Starlight

If you're a Wildlife filmmaker you may also be interested to know that Stargazing Live is also the debut of the Lunax Starlight HD Camera. This revolutionary piece of kit has been developed in Bristol by kit design company, TShed and award-winning wildlife film-makers Justine Evans, Ted Giffords & Nick Turner. Not only is the picture quality superb, the kit is so easy to use it is bringing no/low light shooting within every film-maker's reach.

Read more about the Starlight camera
"Inspired by Martin Dohrn's innovative use of image intensifying technology our High Definition image intensifying camera is the first starlight camera in the world to feature both HD resolution and an HD-SDI output in one package. Footage in moonlight and starlight can now be captured at unsurpassed resolution on the move thanks to our camera operator friendly design..."

David Attenborough flies with the Pterosaurs: Flying Monsters 3D

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Flying Monsters 3D with David Attenborough, Christmas Day 6pm, Sky 3D.

Sir David Attenborough flies with the Pterosaurs, Photo: Atlantic Productions

220 million years ago dinosaurs were beginning their domination of Earth. But another group of reptiles was about to make an extraordinary leap: pterosaurs were taking control of the skies. The story of how and why these mysterious creatures took to the air is more fantastical than any fiction.

In Flying Monsters 3D, Sir David Attenborough the world’s leading naturalist, sets out to uncover the truth about the enigmatic pterosaurs, whose wingspans of up to 40 feet were equal to that of a modern day jet plane.

The central question and one of the greatest mysteries in palaeontology is: how and why did pterosaurs fly? How did creatures the size of giraffes defy gravity and soar through prehistoric skies?

Driven by the information he finds as he attempts to answer these questions, Attenborough starts to unravel one of science’s more enduring mysteries, discovering that the marvel of pterosaur flight has evolutionary echoes that resonate even today.

Flying Monsters 3D is a groundbreaking film that uses cutting-edge 3D technology and CGI to bring the story of giant flying monsters and their prehistoric world to life. Audiences of all ages will be in awe as they enter the world and experience, as never before, REAL Flying Monsters – in 3D.

Find out more about this landmark production, and some of the prehistoric stars of the show.

Flying Monsters from Atlantic Productions on Vimeo.

Sir David Attenborough: Why 3D won't quite take off

"When I started in 1952, people had television sets and thought it was a miracle. You sat in front of it and waited for it to start and watched all the way through to the end and it was an event. But within a decade, you ate and talked and knitted while it was on," said Sir David, 84.

"Then colour came about and once again it was an event, people would come round and said, 'Wow, look at the colour'. Then we got accustomed to colour and television became like wallpaper.  I don't think 3D can be used as wallpaper, particularly because you need the glasses and when you put them on it's very isolating. You become very unaware of the person next to you."

"I think 3D TV is going to be event TV. It can be an international football match or it can also be an important programme. But I don't think 3D is going to be much good on trivia. It's for programmes that really mean something. It does require your attention."
Excerpts from an Interview by the Telegraph

Photo: Atlantic Productions

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Green Screen movie extravaganza & how to film a growing woodland

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I knew Green Screen was fab but I never realised just how much it was used in the movies. I guess it's a lot cheaper and easier than shutting down streets, organising permits and flying actors and crews to remote locations. I knocked together my own budget Green Screen for a festival and here's a quick guide.

Time Warp in Natural History

Green screen is very rarely used in Natural History film making but it was used tremendously in combination with time-lapse photography to create a much acclaimed scene for the BBC series Life. The 'making of' from the Plants episode revealed the skill and effort behind creating one of natural history's most ambitious sequences. To create a scene of a growing English woodland. The back plates were filmed at the mysterious Wistmans Wood in the middle of Dartmoor.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Decade of Discovery with Chris Packham

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BBC2, Tuesday 14th Dec, 8pm

A rare pygmy sloth that looks like a teddy bear and can swim, an insect as long as your arm and a fish from the deep with a face like a headlight. Just some of the extraordinary and weird new species chosen by presenter Chris Packham as his top ten discoveries of the last decade from around the world.

Also chosen are a giant orchid worth thousands, a walking shark and a small mammal related to an elephant with a nose to match, and two geckos which are evolving before our eyes. Equally extraordinary are the personal stories of how the new species were found, as told by the 21st century scientists and explorers who discovered them - the Indiana Joneses of the natural world. All these species are new to us and new to science, and proof that the Earth can still surprise us.

 Headlight Fish

With a head like a fighter-plane cockpit, a Pacific barreleye fish shows off its highly sensitive, barrel-like eyes - topped by green, orblike lenses. The fish, discovered alive in the deep water off California's central coast by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), is the first specimen of its kind to be found with its soft transparent dome intact.

Swimming Sloth

One of the rarest mammals on the planet the pygmy three-toed sloth goes for a swim in the waters around Isla Escudo des Veraguas, a tiny island off the coast of Panama. This fantastically charismatic animal that looks like a teddy bear was described as a new species in 2001.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Watch Prehistoric moments on BBC Wildlife Finder

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The fabulous folks behind the BBC Wildlife Finder have launched the much anticipated 'Prehistoric Life' section of the site. Now you can watch some of the BBC's top Prehistoric moments from series such as 'First Life' by David Attenborough and 'Bill Oddie's Killer Dinosaurs'. Find out about the 5 Big mass extinctions or the top 10 Dinosaurs... or just marvel at how CGI recreations have evolved over the past 30 years.


The first thing I did was head for the ammonites and I found this clip from 'Journey of Life' a series I worked on back in 2002. We filmed on my favourite beach in the world - Pinhay Bay, West of Lyme Regis. When the tide is out, a magnificent array of ammonite fossils is exposed.

Natural World: Butterflies - a very British obsession

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17th December, 8pm, BBC2
From one of Britain's top wildlife cameramen - Mark Payne-Gill and producer Simon Bell, this promises to be a fascinating look into the most resplendent of Britain's insects - the Butterflies. (I can vouch for Marks obsession with these enchanting creatures, whilst filming 'Animals Guide to Britain' he would often leap a fence or dive into a quagmire in pursuit of a mere glimpse of a rare butterfly that he had sighted from the corner of his eyes!)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Prof Brian Cox RTS Lecture: The best TV is relevant, educational, powerful & moving

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If you work in TV then this is particularly worth watching...

Professor Brian Cox (of Wonders of the Solar System fame) uses this year's RTS Lecture to grapple with the main challenges in bringing science to television. He tackles the risks in simplifying science for a television audience and the importance of making science on television intellectually and emotionally engaging. He also has an interesting discussion about the perils of abandoning fact in the name of balance.

He concludes that the best TV is  relevant, educational, powerful and profoundly moving.

How do we simplify without patronising?

Is there a place on TV for heavy-weight, pure science documentaries?


Watch more clips here

Lambing Live: Kate's Year with the Beavans

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Sunday 5th December, BBC2 5.30pm.

Just when you thought you'd seen all the lambs you could bare... Kate is back on the Beavan farm to see how things are getting on with this years arrivals.

In the spring of 2009, Kate Humble and Adam Henson joined the Beavan family on their sheep farm in South Wales for the biggest and busiest event in the farming calendar - lambing.

Nearly 200 lambs were born over just five days, everyday life and death drama played out on live television. For the Beavans this was their livelihood, for Kate it was the apprenticeship of a lifetime. This 60 minute special looks back at her journey through the sheep farming year, from learning how to select a 'tup' or ram, to delivering her very first lamb. It's a journey that doesn't stop in spring. Come summer it's time for shearing and Kate returns to the farm to learn her way around a fleece. There's also a chance to catch up with Humble the lamb, plus the farming year comes full circle. By the end of August, it's market day, and Kate joins the Beavans at auction to see if all their hard work has paid off.

Read more about 'Lambing Live', the series shown earlier in the year

Kate finds her ideal Ram

Clip from the series shown earlier in the year

(Photo: BBC)