Wildly fresh focus on Africa
Hi-tech equipment helps deliver a stunning series, writes
ADEADLY fight between two giraffes, who wield their heads like a spiked ball on a chain, is among the highlights of David Attenborough’s latest documentary series Africa.
Attenborough’s offering took four years to make and producer James Honeyborne says viewers will be amazed with its quality and content. The fiveparter begins in the Kalahari Desert.
Honeyborne says the challenge of making another documentary about Africa was knowing how to keep it fresh and exciting for the viewers.
He says they refrained from cliched lion eats zebra/wildebeest scenarios.
The fight between the two giraffes until one crashes to the ground was a rare moment, says Honeyborne.
‘‘We don’t have lions eating wildebeests but we are looking deeper,’’ he says.
‘‘We have got lizards hunting for flies on the back of lions and that’s different.
‘‘No one has seen that before. We waited for 30 days filming the giraffes and in that time there was one fight which lasted over a minute.
‘‘Sometimes you get really lucky and that giraffe fight . . . we didn’t know it would be so dramatic with an extraordinary outcome.’’
Infra-red cameras have been replaced by high-definition night-time cameras which are able to capture sharp, crisp footage under moonlit skies.
Honeyborne says it allowed for some extraordinary footage around watering holes where rhinos gather at night to form friendships.
‘‘We were quite simply able to film things we hadn’t been able to see before and we haven’t seen that level of detail before,’’ Honeyborne says.
‘‘We’ve tried infra-red before, but it is so much better to use it under natural starlight and we are seeing things that have not been so recordable before.’’
Besides taking four years to make, including 12 months of research and planning, more than 2000 hours of raw camera footage was taken.
Eight cameras were either damaged or destroyed during the making of Africa, including one that was eaten by a lion and another eaten by an elephant.
Honeyborne said that cameramen were able get within 30 metres of lions and tigers.
Stabilising cameras were used to gain incredibly sharp images of a number of the animals in motion.
‘‘How close you get to an animal, depends on the animal,’’ he says.
‘‘You want the animal to feel comfortable when you’re around and it might be at 100 metres or it might be 30 metres.
‘‘But all the time you are observing the animal’s reaction to you and ideally there will be no reaction.’’
Saturdays, 6.30pm, Ten, Ten SC.
A scene from