17. ANIMAL NEWS Issue 668 5 – 11 April 2019 FirstNews CAMERA, ANIMALS! LIGHTS, WE find out what it really takes to make Sir David Attenborough’s new nature documentary series from the show’s producer Keith Scholey. Our Planet, ALL OVER THE WORLD “The scale of this show is huge,” says Keith. “We filmed in every continent in the world and spent 3,500 days in the field. Some locations are pretty straightforward, some you have to go on a whole expedition just to get there – like Antarctica or the Russian Arctic.” DID YOU KNOW? PERFECT PENGUINS The crew went to some pretty extreme lengths to get the perfect shots. “We had this ambition to film the penguins underwater, which is actually really difficult because they are very shy. We filmed underwater, which in Antarctica is a bit of a problem because it’s a bit chilly,” explains Keith. “Normally, when you dive you wear a scuba tank, but that scares the penguins rigid so we found a special free-diver. The problem was they dive in a wetsuit but, being in Antarctica, you wear suits that are airtight so you can wear lots of woolly clothes underneath and stay warm. That gets compressed when you go down deep so we couldn’t use those, and so these poor guys were having to swim around the icebergs in just wetsuits. But they got some amazing shots of penguins. It was pretty exciting.” POLAR EXPEDITION Filming polar bears was quite a challenge. “We used to have to take a ski-doo to where the polar bears were, then start filming,” explains Keith. “Now, polar bears are one of the animals that will eat you, so if a polar bear starts running towards you, you have to stop filming, hop on your ski-doo and get away! But for this series we got a new vehicle that’s like a smart car on tracks that you can drive across the ice. We put a camera that is designed to go on a helicopter on the front and then they could film safe in the car. We could also track the polar bears when they moved along.” DID YOU KNOW? TIGER TRACKING It takes a lot to capture one big cat on camera. “There are very few left in the wild so when we filmed the Siberian tiger we tried two things,” Keith says. “Over a two-year period we put a cameraman in a box about big enough to take a bed, a tripod and seat and they stayed in there for a week at a time for three months. We did that over two years. They were in freezing cold temperatures with tigers around them at night but never got a shot. The other technique we have are camera traps – a camera with a triggering mechanism, which means if anything walks past, it sets the camera off. We got some absolutely amazing shots from those.” SCARY SITUATIONS Some of the crew were in pretty perilous situations during production. “We filmed with the grey reef shark – which are about 100-150cm long – when they gathered in their hundreds at night to feed on a reef,” reveals Keith. “Our cameraman was surrounded by hundreds of sharks. The shark won’t try to eat you but, because they’re thrashing around, you could just get a nip. Luckily he was wearing chain mail protection.” Catch Our Planet from 5 April on Netflix. Check out www.ourplanet.com for more information on the show.
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