Timelapse photography makes the Himalayas come alive.
Timelapse photography makes the Himalayas come alive.
Dramatic aerials of Iguazu, the world's widest continuous waterfall.
Shot here in HD, Iguazu is the largest collection of cataracts in the world. There are 275 individual falls that run together to form this panorama. The heligimbal camera system's ability to twist and pan as it flies over the falls captures the magnitude of Iguazu and gives a new perspective to the familiar aerial flyover.
Unique aerial shots of dolphins travelling at high speed towards their hunting target.
Dolphins travel at high speed, amidst a ball of spray, so it's hard to film them from the surface. For underwater animals, the sound of a helicopter passing overhead is like a military jet to us. At a critical angle the sudden boom distresses the dolphins and affects their behaviour. The heligimbal system avoids this by operating high above, but its powerful lens still captures sustained close-up action.
Male polar bears take on ever more deadly adversaries as their hunting fields diminish.
It took two years and three shoots to bag new perspectives on the obviously high-risk hunting strategies of polar bears. The effort paid off when this desperately hungry male polar bear, followed on his epic swim in search of food, was observed trying to predate fully grown adult walruses. Usually they would go after cubs, but increasingly desperate polar conditions are pushing them to ever more ambitious attacks.
Rare footage of the most elusive polar predator hunting a musk ox calf.
Rare footage of the most elusive polar predator hunting a musk ox calf.
Timelapse reveals how a colony is transformed into a single organism.
Braving the planet's most severe winter weather, the crew spent six months living alongside male emperor penguins. To film a top shot of the group dynamic changing over time, they set up a fixed post on top of a huge glacier overlooking the huddle to shoot timelapse. Their efforts were rewarded when the previously uncatalogued exhalation of heat, as occasional squabbles broke out, became clearly visible.
An aerial journey through the sandstone pinnacles of the USA's wild west.
These classic American icons made perfect subjects for the extended pan and tilt capability of the heligimbal camera system. Capturing them in splendid isolation, however, was not so easy. Dawn and dusk, when long shadows and clear air present the best filming conditions, are also peak times for climbers to swarm up and down the vertiginous spires before the day's heat sets in.
Time-lapse reveals the life-giving power of these giant desert sentinels.
As seasonal rains transform the desert into a green oasis, the world's largest cactus puts on a spectacular nocturnal display. Long nights of patient waiting finally resulted in shots of the unfurling energy-rich flowers against a starry backdrop. Sequences were filmed at the exact location months apart, using specialist tracking time-lapse, to show the full extent of the swelling.
Slow motion cameras capture the immense power and agility of a breaching great white.
Extraordinary footage from an ultra-high speed camera captures and illuminates shark behaviour in a wholly new way. As the great white shoots vertically out of the water a Photron camera films at 1,000 frames per second. Slowed down 40 times, this single second of action reveals the immense power and agility of the ocean's master predator. Every nuance of its behaviour becomes evident as the shark toys with its prey. This was the favourite Planet Earth clip when the series was first broadcast.
Birds of paradise exhibit their bizarre courting techniques in the jungle.
Birds of paradise are Sir David's favourite species, and he is always delighted to film them anew. For Planet Earth the birds were filmed with a high-definition camera with superb low light gathering qualities, giving much crisper, clearer footage in conditions where film would have been dull or grainy.
Thousands of birds wheel in the sky at their winter roost in South Korea.
High definition video, with its ability to cope in the low light conditions of dusk and dawn, perfectly captured the mood as the black vortexes of teal wheel in the sky above their winter roost. Extremely wary of disturbance, the birds were filmed close up owing to the 800x magnification of the powerful HJ40 high definition lens.
Aerial perspective on Northern Canada's greatest drama, the mass caribou migration.
There's no place to hide here. A wolf relies on its extreme stamina, sometimes continuing the chase for more than 10km. The long lens capability of the heligimbal aerial camera system enabled the team to film the caribou herd high enough up not to affect their behaviour. The resulting footage is the first entire wolf/caribou hunt ever filmed.
Dedicated dads brave the worst winter conditions on the planet to incubate their eggs.
When winter arrives in Antarctica most life departs, but not the male emperor penguin or the film crew. Filming this created intense personal and technical challenges. The camera team spent a whole year on location, enduring some of the most extreme conditions on the planet. A 35mm film camera was specially winterised to combat the cold, whiteouts and blizzards.
Cubs see the world for the very first time as the Arctic winter ends.
Locating the spot at which the bears are likely to emerge at the end of winter isn't easy. Weeks of waiting at likely denning hotspots in Kong Karl's Land, Svarlbard, finally paid off, but following the mother and cubs on their journey across the melting sea to their feeding grounds proved just as great a challenge for the camera team.
Energy super-efficient hunters capitalise on the seasonal nutrient glut.
There's a short time window when baitfish come to the surface in such abundance, attracting predators from above and below. Sailfish have been filmed before, but not these extraordinary gatherings of over 100 feeding on a single shoal. They can travel at speeds of up over 90kph and there are plenty of casualties during the hunt, so diving to film them is not for the faint-hearted!
The clumsy descendant of one of the ocean's top predators 400 million years ago.
The nautilus usually hunts around 500m down, risking an ascent to the surface for the abundant scavenging opportunities only when the water becomes colder and during the darkness of a new moon. Filming opportunities are few and far between and, as specific behaviour is related to very particular environmental conditions, observation of reported discoveries can be hard.
Volcanic activity breathes life into a barren void deep underwater.
he crew was sceptical about reports of colourful communities on these sea mounts, but 1.5km down the combination of a rocky volcanic substrate with a nutrient-rich current leads to a profusion of life. Red is virtually invisible in deep sea, so these extraordinary gardens of red gorgonians and orange sponges are effectively camouflaged.
Unique communities of bacteria grazers live on isolated deep water vents.
These first ever HD pictures from 3km below the surface of the ocean were accomplished through a unique collaboration between Japanese broadcasters NHK and marine research institute, JAMSTEC. One of several trips using deep sea ROVs was to the Dragon Vent where the crew agreed that the population of crustaceans resembled bristling Samurai warriors.
A recently discovered octopus and a bioluminescent vampire of the deep.
The unique behaviour of the dumbo octopus was captured with the help of MBARI's underwater marine researchers and innovative film technology, developed with NHK in Japan. Even standard HD cameras can't operate in such low light conditions, but the New Super-HARP (High-gain Avalanche Rushing amorphous Photoconductor) equipment is ultra sensitive and particularly effective with slow-moving images.
The world's largest fish survives on the smallest organism... or does it?
The crew seized an unexpected opportunity, when a perfect set of technical and animal circumstances converged, to film this behaviour for the first time. The diversion afforded by the tuna attack allows the unwieldy whale shark time to turn on the baitfish sheltering under its bulk. Interesting to the observers was that it didn't just ram feed but actively gulped deliberate great mouthfuls.
Penguins run the gauntlet of ferocious fur seals to reach their hungry chicks.
Cameraman Ian McCarthy hitched a three-week ride on a tuna trawler through the notorious Roaring Forties to reach the obscure island where this behaviour had been reported. He and his camera equipment had to be sterilised to avoid contaminating the island. For the next four weeks, he braved Antarctic gales and the highly aggressive bull fur seals to capture this unique behaviour.
Aerials explain why the world's largest colony of socotra cormorants nests in the desert.
In a new angle on this bizarre spectacle, the heligimbal's powerful HJ40 lens pulls out ever further to a high wide shot that perfectly illustrates the seabirds' bleak isolation at the edge of the Arabian desert. The mystery of the apparently bizarre choice of nesting site is clarified by satellite imagery that reveals the beneficial effects of local weather patterns.
Dolphins in Western Australia learn an ingenious new fishing trick.
Only a small number of individuals practise this unusual behaviour, so it proved a very frustrating experience predicting which dolphin was about to put on a show. The crew spent many hours, loaded with full camera kit, running fruitlessly up and down the baking hot sand dunes. A large local shark population made even a cooling dip in the surf off limits.
Bizarre residents of the world's richest and most remote reefs.
The team scoured the most remote and untouched locations to find fresh spectacles and new weird critters. Newly discovered reefs off Raja Ampat afforded this opportunity and the super hi-tech underwater housing of an HD camera allowed cameraman Peter Scoones to film these previously unseen and bizarre life-forms in full technicolor glory.
Unique co-operative hunting behaviour is recorded on one of the world's remotest reefs.
The unique and only recently discovered communal hunting behaviour of this population of sea kraits has never been filmed before and HD brings pristine clarity to the underwater footage. The snakes proved very inquisitive, wrapping themselves round the cameraman's legs. As a result, it was extremely hard to film natural behaviour while being sure to avoid the snakes' potentially lethal bite.
First footage of the red crab's technique for surviving the deadly pitcher plant.
To film inside the pitcher, the cameraman replaced sections of the plant with glass plates. These retained the liquid and acted as windows through which the creatures inside could be filmed. Combined with a borscope - a periscope the size of an arm tapering to a fingernail - the HD camera enabled macro scale shots in fantastic clarity and detail.
Night-time footage shows the energy-efficient gliding skills of the colugo.
To capture the entire sequence of a colugo glide, the crew set up highly efficient HMI lights (hydrargyrum medium arc-length iodide). Concerns that the hot, bright lights might affect the colugo's behaviour were not borne out. The greatest difficulty was predicting the launch and landing sites, so the crew had to film all night every night to be in with a chance.
The parasitic cordyceps sends its victims mad before erupting from their bodies.
At a quick glance, the ants and other insects in this clip seem to be suffering from a science fiction affliction. Imagine a fungus which lodges itself inside you, compels you to climb as high as you can and then explodes out of your body, killing you in the process. But this is no alien encounter or April fool - there are literally thosands of different types of cordyceps fungus, each specialising on just one species. They are so virulent, this killer can wipe out whole colonies of ants!
High up in the branches of the baobab a little-seen spectacle takes place.
Occurring high above ground, at night and for only a short time each year, the opening of the baobab's flowers is rarely observed. The crew used rope access and special climbers to reach the tree tops. Once there, they were able to avoid the usual grainy footage associated with night filming by using low light capable HD cameras.
The biggest insect emergence on the planet.
The timing of this extraordinary event is known to the week, so the crew was ready at the epicentre observing the most favoured trees, high in sugary sap. When the nymphs began to appear, the crew soon discovered the shoot's challenges. Every time the filming lights were turned on the nymphs scattered. Then, as the dead cicadas piled up, the stench from rotting bodies was appalling.
Months of computerised timelapse reveal a woodland floor coming to life.
The broad-leafed forests are perhaps the most familiar, yet only with the help of timelapse photography can you appreciate the near miraculous transformation they undergo every spring. This technique is taken to new heights as cameras travel across the woodland floor, capturing the annual regeneration in a single, gently moving sequence.
Rare footage of the world's smallest primate.
These tiny and vulnerable nocturnal primates are rightly very wary of light. The HD camera's capacity to record in low light wasn't sufficient, so the crew rigged up a dimmer switch to habituate the lemurs to increasing levels gradually, over several weeks. A sophisticated rope access system enabled the crew to film high up in the baobab trees.
Timelapse illustrates the vigorous race for light, and life, set off by a tree fall.
It took four years to shoot this sequence. The cameraman set immoveable posts in place in the Borneo forest and returned each week to take a still, carefully aligning the frames. The resulting shots were then stitched together digitally to create a timelapse sequence.
Timelapse shows the extraordinary growth patterns of different fungi.
In these timelapse sequences, digital stills taken at set intervals are combined with movement around the subject, achieved by setting a rotational head on a tracking device. It took anything from a day to several months to complete the shots.
New timelapse techniques capture the frenzied life of California's star gardens.
Using a flash strobe system linked to an in-built timer mechanism on his digital stills camera, cameraman Peter Kragh filmed timelapse in the wild for the first time. Previously, such sequences have been filmed in tanks. To the naked eye, these invertebrates seem inanimate, but at ultra-high speed their frenetic activity is revealed.
Timelapse shows how a large tuna is stripped to the bone in under three hours.
Planet Earth spent two years testing and developing a timelapse camera system that could be operated remotely and withstand the immense pressure 2km underwater. Keen to use equipment that lies idle to participate in scientific projects, several oil rigs and drilling vessels pitched in to help get the camera in place, positioning it on the sea floor using a robotic vehicle.
First footage of mandarin duck chicks leaving their perilous treetop nests.
Other species of duck have been filmed fledging from nests set high above the ground, but to record the amazing dive of the young mandarin was a first. The crew remained in hides throughout the shoot in Siberia, as the birds were extremely nervous.
A unique portrait of the world's rarest big cat.
Of the nine surviving subspecies of leopard, by far the most endangered is the Amur. When filmed for Planet Earth in 2006, 50 individuals remained in the wild. There may now, in 2010, be fewer than 20. Poaching is still a major threat: since 2002 alone, nine skins or corpses have been found in Russia and two more in China. Amur leopards suffer from habitat loss and with such a small population are likely to suffer problems of inbreeding. Fortunately, there are around 300 individuals in zoos now being used in a breeding programme with the hope of reintroducing them to the wild in the future.
Tracking time-lapse, elapsed time and satellite imagery capture seasonal change.
A motion control system (MOSYS) allowed simultaneous panning, tracking and time-lapse in the blossoming and leaf growth sequence. Autumn's temporal advance is illustrated here spatially, through an elapsed time technique. Images taken at different stages of the change are blended together to create a single continuous sequence of the colour sweeping across the forest.
New perspectives on the biggest forest on the planet, from the air.
A variety of aerial equipment is used in this sequence: satellite images show the global scale of the boreal forests; the HD heligimbal long lens system, operating from high above so as not to blow the snow off the trees, zooms in for a flyover; finally, the Cinebulle filming balloon drifting barely above tree level completes an intimate picture of this vast and silent landscape.
Infra-red footage sheds light on the night-hunting techniques of lions.
The crew spent six weeks following one of Africa's largest prides. These night ambush and chase techniques had previously been little witnessed and never before filmed. A highly sensitive image intensifying camera - the only one of its kind in the world - uses the latest night-vision technology to capture images even in these near dark conditions.
Elephant grass towers over the world's tiniest and rarest wild pig.
There are only a few hundred pygmy hogs in the wild and finding them in these immensely tall grass jungles is fraught with difficulty and danger. This area has a relatively high concentration of tigers making tracking through the long grass nerve-racking. But it was the resident rhinos that gave most cause for concern as the crew faced charges on a daily basis.
First ever footage of this bizarre and remote animal as it hunts rabbit-like pikas.
The two years it took to get filming permits for the Tibetan plateau and four weeks searching for brown bears yielded an unexpected bonus - the elusive Tibetan fox. At 6,000m above sea level, conditions here are extreme, with temperatures under -20 degrees Celsius. The HD camera's long lens capability was indispensable in filming such a rare and shy animal.
Life in the extreme environment of the world's highest great plain.
At 6,000m above sea level, the Tibetan Plateau is both remote and hard to reach. As a result, the high altitude grazers here are hardly ever seen, let alone filmed. In many cases, they are also becoming ever more rare. Satellite images of the plateau reveal the reasons why conditions here are so extreme.
The world's most numerous bird forms a swarm of epic proportions.
1.5 billion of these fast-breeding birds swarm over Africa's savannah and this is the largest flock of birds ever caught on camera. Filming this spectacle from below put the cameraman in a vulnerable position and he and his equipment ended up covered in guano. The fast frame speed capability of Super16 captured the rapid movement of this intense throng.
Over half a million geese in one of the largest nesting wildfowl colonies ever filmed.
The team had to be airlifted to this remote tundra location for a 4-week, extreme camping expedition. This vast colony of geese, roughly 20km long and 5km wide, had never been filmed before. To capture slow motion effectively, the cameraman used Super16 which captures 150fps, rather than HD's 60fps, and is also a more robust option for Arctic conditions.
Time-lapse shows the dramatic changes brought about by spring's arrival.
Two different techniques manipulate the spectacle of change over time in this clip. Taken at intervals of several weeks, a short sequence of still satellite images is blended together to show change over a much larger timescale. Down at ground level, a sophisticated computer driven tracking system took regular shots in a specific location to create a time-lapse sequence of growth close up.
In a remote corner of outer Mongolia, a million calving gazelles are on the move.
It took three years to film one of the world's greatest, yet rarely witnessed, migrations. A microlight transported from South America was written off before a single image was captured. With little cover to hide from these intensely shy animals, the cameraman had to bury himself up to the neck, in 40 degree heat. The aerial shots were finally obtained from an ancient Russian military helicopter.
Filmed emerging from their den two years before, the cubs are now independent.
Situated in the middle of the highest density of polar bears anywhere, the crew's base hut was an unfortunate focus of attention for hungry males. At a more comfortable distance from the subject, the long lens capability of the HD heligimbal camera system allowed incredible scope for continuous transition between close up and wide shots without disturbing the bears.
Climate change forces hungry males to strike out ever further into the sea.
With no ground access for the camera crew on the breaking ice, the HD heligimbal aerial camera system really came into its own. The powerful HJ40 lens allows fantastic close ups from high above, pulling out to grand scale wide shots that illustrate the huge distances covered by the bear. Filming from so far above, the bear is wholly undisturbed.
Elapsed time and satellite imagery show the Antarctic doubling in size.
Usually, elapsed time sequences dissolve between two images taken at a specific interval. In this instance, the cameraman returned every few months to a fixed post where he recorded moving images with a 35mm camera, creating the continuous dissolve as the sea ice grows. The combination with NASA satellite imagery from space gives context to the immense change that results from the winter ice growth.
The polar oases that are home to the most southerly bird colonies on the planet.
The south polar skuas' hunting strategy had never been filmed before - with good reason. The nesting sites of the petrel lie 300km inland from the edge of the ice, high up in the rarely visited nunataks. To reach them the crew flew in from Cape Town on a Norwegian Hercules, landing on a blue ice runway and wearing spiked soles just to get off the plane safely.
A plague of biblical proportions occurs as billions of voracious insects fill the air.
'An average sub-Saharan swarm of desert locusts may number 50 billion and they will consume four times as much food as the humans living in New York or London in a single day. Insect spectacles don't come much bigger than this and I'd love to see it first hand.' (George McGavin on his list of top wildlife spectacles still to see)
Death Valley bursts with life as the desert blooms in unprecedented abundance.
Elapsed time filming with a 35mm Aaton camera captures the breath-taking transformation of Death Valley as masses of flowers appear for the first time in decades. The crew used visual references and ground markers to pinpoint the exact spot for filming, then seamlessly blended before-and-after shots that were filmed four months apart.
The epic journey of these land giants is dwarfed by Namibia's vast, empty dunes.
Fantastic aerial footage with the heligimbal camera's powerful zoom offers a new perspective on the elephants' long march for food. In spite of constant radio contact with a ground-based camera crew, the wildlife proved elusive among the Namibian dunes and rocky escarpments. The helicopter crew spent 25 hours in the air to film this sequence alone.
The territorial display and hunting techniques of the world's densest lizard population.
To capture the lizards jumping, a Super-16mm camera ran at 6 times the normal speed (150fps). The already difficult balance between getting the action and using up expensive film stock was compounded by the treacherous location. The cameraman was secured by rope and a climbing harness to prevent him falling from the rocks into the river below.
Resourceful kangaroos cope with Australia's extreme desert heat.
Air temperature in Australia's outback reaches over 50 degrees C at midday, and the scarcity of water makes every drop of moisture vitally precious. A military grade thermal imaging camera (ThermaCamP65), usually used for search and rescue missions, gives insight to the kangaroo's strategies for coping with these harsh desert conditions.
Timelapse illustrates the erosive power of wind as it creates weird rock formations.
A combination of specialist tracking timelapse and digital stills photography captured these dramatic scenics as marble towers are sand-blasted into ever more bizarre shapes by desert winds.
Dramatic footage from the centre of the storm demonstrates the abrasive force of sand.
Two of the major challenges of filming a sand storm are keeping the equipment (and the crew) from being sand-blasted and getting the light right. In order to make the storm appear as impressive on film as it does in reality, the light needs to hit the sand storm at the right angle making position and time of day critical. It took 3 weeks and 10 storms to get these shots.
Surreal images of the last of the truly wild Bactrians in Mongolia's extreme winter.
There are few of these nomadic camels left in the vast Mongolian wilderness. They're so acutely sensitive they take fright when you're more than 4km away but a powerful HJ40 lens enabled the crew to film from a distance. Aerials were filmed from a Russian M18 helicopter using a conventional Tyler mount to dampen the shake. Increasing the film speed to 40fps rather than 25fps made the images smoother.
Deep underground lies the world's most beautiful cave.
It took 2 years to gain permission to film this fragile cave system. An 8-hour journey through narrow passages ending in an abseil of 60 metres in utter darkness made getting equipment in hard, especially the small jib arm vital to the filming. The crew spent 10 days underground to get these first ever high-definition images of the caves.
Curious life-forms thrive in poisonous underwater caves.
The hazardous conditions here posed a problem for the equipment as well as the crew. Sulphuric acid eats through plastic so the high-definition camera had to be protected in an underwater housing. The odds seem heavily stacked against there being any wildlife to film here. Yet there are perfectly adapted fish and extremophiles that actually depend on their toxic surroundings.
Fewer than 100 of these cave dwellers remain in the world.
The crew set up specialist, cool lights that operate at low temperature to prevent the water temperature rising suddenly and to avoid any resulting change in the salamander's hunting behaviour. Fortunately, the shoot was successful - the same cave was off limits the very next day following rock movement overnight.
One of the most highly adapted creatures on Earth, Thailand's cave angel fish.
Huge fluctuations in oxygen and CO2 levels 1,000m into the cave had similar effects on the crew to working at altitude. Protective masks and oxygen monitors were vital. A high-definition camera, fitted with a periscope lens waterproof to a depth of about 2m, was used for the real close-ups. Strong water current made it hard for both crew and tripods to stay upright.
Thermal imaging and infra-red show how snakes hunts with deadly accuracy in the dark.
Australia's Bat Cleft cave was lit with infra-red so as not to change either the snake's or the bats' behaviour. Two high resolution security cameras equipped with different sized lenses and mounted on a single custom built tripod meant different views could be captured without moving the tripod and disturbing the animals. A thermal imaging camera then illustrated how the snakes detect their prey.
High-definition video captures the clarity and beauty of Mexico's deep water wells.
Filming in this remarkable environment presented the crew with a massive logistical challenge. They used underwater lights mounted on tripods, cable to link the divers to one another and white boards to communicate during the dive. Underwater scooters pulled the cameraman along to ensure smooth movement in the tracking shots.
Swiftlets build their highly-prized nests in Borneo's Mulu Caves.
Previous filming at Mulu had only been done in the front of the cave where natural light penetrates. It was a huge ordeal to get the camera crew across the cave's legendary mound of cockroach-ridden bat guano. The swiftlets build their nests at the back of the cave in total darkness, so to film them lights with dimmers were used that acclimatised the birds to artificial light gradually.
Recently developed image intensifier technology reveals their true nature.
Developed by Japanese TV company NHK, the image intensifier (II) system has a camera chip 300 times more powerful than the standard digibeta camera used for most wildlife filming. It took only LED headtorches to light the cave sufficiently to see the 'gloworms'. Previously, they'd been filmed using time-lapse which creates a flashing effect that doesn't actually occur.
Timing is everything in the Pantanal, the world's largest wetland.
The wetland is in a constant flux between flooding in the wet season and drying out in the summer heat that leaves only a narrow band of time when the water is clear enough to film. Go too close to the end of the rainy season and the flooded water is still too stirred up, go too late and the water levels have dropped too far down.
Clever caiman make the most of an opportunity as wood stork chicks fledge.
The giant waterworld of the Pantanal's impenetrable swamps has largely been ignored by wildlife filmmakers. Extensive research through local experts uncovered this location, a breeding roost favoured by spoonbills and woodstorks. The resident caiman have learned that by waiting around at the base of the roost at fledging time there's a good chance of grabbing an unwary chick.
Bizarre and ancient life forms in the freezing depths of the world's deepest lake.
The cold here could kill someone in under a minute. The cameraman wore a dry suit and poured boiling water over his regulator before diving to stop it freezing. The seals are extremely shy, so the cameraman had to position remote cameras along a predicted route from their ice lairs. These are the first images of the Baikal seals under the ice.
Home to 850 species of largely endemic fish and some meticulous courtship displays.
Malawi's extraordinary population of cichlids evolved from a single ancestor thousands of years ago. High-definition video allows fantastic clarity underwater and makes the most of available light, even allowing some shots at night. A very experienced underwater cameraman, used to approaching animals without effecting their behaviour, used an underwater tripod to film some of the close-ups.
The ultimate ambush predator - striking images in ultra slow motion.
Nile crocodiles strike their targets suddenly from murky water just 30cm deep. A Tornado camera filmed 1,000 frames per second to give this sequence its excruciating detail. The action is slowed down 40 times and the resulting few seconds-worth of film (around 16Gb) has to be downloaded straight on to a laptop before anything else can be filmed.
Night-hunting amphibians stalk in freshwater streams.
These huge salamanders are easily disturbed and very sensitive to camera lights. This rarely-filmed fish hunting behaviour was shot using a flexible high-definition polecam and with the HD camera in an underwater housing. The cameraman had to wear an awkward dry suit to withstand the freezing temperatures and anchor himself in the fast-flowing river with a grappling hook.
An elevator perspective on the world's highest waterfall.
It's hard to get a new perspective on a scenic icon. The 360 degree capability of a unique gimbal-mounted camera under a helicopter gives this shot its edge. The camera is separated from the frame of the helicopter by a spherical, shake-proof housing. Until very recently, images this steady have been very difficult to capture from the air.
Time-lapse techniques show the erosive power of rain as it sculpts this surreal landscape.
A digital SLR recorded stills of the cloud movements every 4-8 seconds using an intervalometer. Played out as a sequence, these are much higher resolution images than even the high definition camera in time-lapse mode could produce. The large format of a 35mm camera gives the panning time-lapse of the rainstorm a cinematic quality.
Golden eagles take demoiselle cranes on the wing as they migrate high over the Himalayas.
This was a classic long lens shoot from ground level using a 600mm lens, sometimes with a doubler. The team spent lots of time scouring the mountain tops around Annapurna with binoculars trying to locate the flocks of migrating cranes. When the demoiselles were eventually spotted, with the eagles in pursuit, the camera crew was some distance away and unable to get closer.
First footage of a new born panda and its mother in their cave den.
Born pink, hairless and blind the newborn cub is one nine hundredth the size of its mother. Excluding marsupials (such as the kangaroo), giant pandas are the smallest newborn mammals relative to their mother's size.
Advanced time-lapse tracking technology shows the arrival of spring in the Himalayas.
Common in adverts but never used for natural history before, the motion control system (MOSYS) allowed simultaneous panning and time-lapse. Laser readings of the movement and tilt are cross-referenced in a computer head to record the camera's position to the nearest 1/10mm. Its 85kg weight means road access to the location is vital.
The first ever footage of an entire snow leopard hunt. Filmed in high definition.
It's notoriously hard to film amongst these remote and vertiginous slopes. Previous footage of snow leopards has been captured with remote cameras, making action sequences impossible. Here, the high magnification capability of HD allowed close ups to be shot from the other side of the valley, widening the field of view enough to follow the entire hunt.
Incredible adaptation to life in the vertical Himalayan world.
Perhaps the most agile of all goats, the markhor is perfectly adapted to life on these sheer slopes. They are so sure-footed they can even climb trees. With an extrememly timid subject and the access problems posed by the terrain, the crew made full use of the long lens capability of the high definition camera to film this dramatic encounter.
Exceptional images of the world's highest mountain range filmed at high altitude.
Footage of the Himalayan ranges has generally been shot either looking up from ground level, or looking down from fixed wing planes high above. Here, a high-altitude Lama helicopter was able to film at summit level. The helicopter is stripped right down to an open cage. With no cabin to pressurise, the crew had to wear oxygen masks.
Aerial view of the spectacular, diverse formations that make up the Alps.
These stunning views of the different parts of the Alps took 10 days to film using the high-definition heligimbal camera. The camera's ability to swivel 360 degrees enables sweeping panoramic aerials and tracking shots across the spikey peaks of the Italian Dolomites.
Brown bears climb high into the Rockies in search of some surprising prey.
Filming high above the slopes with the immensely powerful HJ40 lens, the high-definition heligimbal camera lends a superb sense of scale to these shots. The mountain slopes look vast and barren, but as the tiny moving speck resolves to become a bear, it becomes apparent just what lengths the bears will go to to find this nutritious treat.
Image intensifying technology shows a night time hunt in colour.
This sequence is partly shot using a Japanese image intensifier camera which effectively extends daylight by a few hours. Where infra-red technology switches to black and white, this low-light, high-definition camera captures the drama of prey and predator in colour during a full moon. There are very few of these cameras in the world.
Aerials of Africa's lowest land point and time-lapse of its most active volcano, Erta Ale.
Wearing gas masks to protect against constant noxious fumes, the crew endured blistering day temperatures of more than 40 degrees. To capture an unusual perspective on this extremely hostile environment, the camera was extended out above the springs on a Jimmy Jib crane. The ever-moving lava lake at Erta Ale was recorded at night using 35mm time-lapse.
A 200-mile trek through dry desert ends in the welcoming waters of Okavango.
In some of the larger clear channels of the Okavango, currents sweep sediments away ensuring fantastic water clarity. At great risk of being trodden on, and using the HD camera in an underwater housing, the cameraman dived right amongst the herd to capture these wonderfully charismatic elephants as they revelled in waters they'd trekked so far to reach.
An aerial perspective gives insight into the technique of African hunting dogs.
It's impossible to follow a wild dog hunt at ground level through the treacherous swamplands of the Okavango. Using the helicopter-mounted camera, the crew managed to capture the entire hunt from the air. The high definition camera meant they could film from far enough above the dogs and their prey not to give alarm and interfere with the natural action.
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