I made this… Earth Unplugged

Assistant producer Nicola Brown talks about her role producing natural history films for Earth Unplugged, BBC Earth’s original content YouTube Channel.

This is what I did…
At Earth Unplugged we turn around several short videos every week. I work across the whole production, from developing ideas, scripting and planning shoots to filming, directing and editing.

The project has been a big learning curve for all of us since we launched in November 2012 and it finally feels that the channel has found its voice. I’ve been working across several programme strands, for example slo mo (slow motion), which involves capturing animal behaviour using high speed filming techniques. This involves getting my head around the science of an animal’s behaviour and translating it into a five minute script, then putting the filming logistics in place and then heading out to film it.  

My favourite video was made for our Meet My Planet strand, which focuses on people with a passion for nature. I made a film about the street artist Faunagraphic who creates amazing bird murals.

I’m currently putting together a 12 day shoot to South Africa, finding locations and contributors to bring stories together. The plans include filming with great white sharks, venomous snakes and a safari being broadcast live to YouTube. It’s all terrifying and exciting!

Who did I work alongside and where I sat in the overall production…
This project is unlike television productions where the teams are quite structured. Everyone here is multi-skilled and doing a bit of everything. It’s one of the most brilliant and dynamic teams I’ve ever worked with, 17 of us producing everything in-house.

I take creative and editorial guidance from our producer/directors Simon and Matt, series producer Chris and our in-house editor Val. I also run ideas past our social media manager Jess, as it’s crucial to think about how a video will sit online before it’s even been made.

"It’s crucial to think about how a video will sit online before it’s even been made." – Nicola Brown

What did my typical day involve…
Every day is completely different. If I’m not bashing away at my keyboard sending emails and writing scripts or on the phone sorting out logistics, I’m in a studio or out on location working on my camera skills and willing animals to display a behaviour that will give us that beautiful shot. I’ve also had opportunities to put together rough cuts which is improving my editing skills.

A moment in this production I’m particularly proud of…
I suggested a collaboration with a popular YouTuber called ZeFrank which led to a video called True Facts About the Star Nosed Mole.  It’s one of our biggest hitting videos and allowed our content to reach new people. Plus it really makes me laugh!

Something I learned that I'll take on from this production to the next…
This is the first time I’ve worked on a digital platform and I feel incredibly lucky to have been part of the first BBC YouTube channel to feature original content.  Digital media and television will continue to integrate over the coming years and having the opportunity to be part of this shift and understanding how the way audiences consume content is changing has been invaluable. I’ve learnt so much in such a short space of time.

My biggest surprise was...
My biggest surprise has been how much strategy and planning goes into making videos work well on the YouTube platform.  And just how much impact social media can have on getting your content out there and viewed.  It fascinates me how much the medium has progressed over the past few years and I’m really intrigued to see what will happen over the next few.

The programme I'd kill to work on...
Louis Theroux documentary, the stories are always so fascinating and I love the way they’re put together.