Behind the scenes with the BBC's new Animals with Cameras series

by admin January 25, 2018 at 6:33 pm

David Attenborough and the team behind Blue Planet tend to be the first names that spring to mind when thinking about beautifully shot wildlife epics – and for good reason – but there’s a new show in town with an innovative approach.

Animals with Cameras may well sound like a feature idea pitched by Alan Partridge but Gordon Buchanan, the award-winning Scottish wildlife filmmaker behind Tribes and Life in the Snow, fronts the new series that gets up close and personal with nature.

The premise is fairly simple: strap an array of cameras to meerkats, chimps and other creatures to get an insight into their behaviors and characteristics that simply observing them wouldn’t allow.

The man tasked with rigging a cheeky four-year old chimp, a group of inquisitive penguins and many more animals with the latest POV camera kit is Chris Watts

The man tasked with rigging a cheeky four-year old chimp, a group of inquisitive penguins and many more animals with the latest POV camera kit is Chris Watts, an experienced camera designer and cameraman.

Speaking to TechRadar, Chris said, “I wanted to get involved in this project because I really believe the show is different, because rather than just putting a camera on an animal for a few moments to get a cool shot, we have worked alongside scientists to really try and discover something new about their lives.”

“As a cameraman, I’m always looking for new ways to tell stories and new advances in technology are often a great way to help do that. In terms of capturing animals, what better way is there than to have the opportunity to develop cameras for them to film themselves and tell their own narrative?” he adds.

Capturing nature

One of the main challenges Chris and his team faced was the distinct lack of existing technology required to affix to an animal in order to capture its habits and movements.

“There were so many challenges to face during this project, which began when I was tasked with shrinking down a high quality camera – with long lasting batteries – into a small package,” Chris explains.

“The tiny units then had to include custom built programmable controllers for setting recording windows, with built in release mechanisms, as well as GPS and VHF to find them again afterwards.”