A Rock Crawler and Wildlife Film Making

When Gordon Buchanan was following bears in the United States we watched the resulting documentaries on television. We have seen him a number of times in episodes of countryfile as well. Now he is working on getting footage of wolves in the wild. For this project he is staying out in the wild and following a pack of wolves day after day for weeks. As part of this project he is filming with a broadcast camera and gopro cameras which he fixed on to a “rock crawler”. The Rock crawler is a remote control car with the body removed.

The BBC were working on a documentary about polar bears and for certain shots they created a den for filming purposes. It helped to tell the story but people felt that the purity of that documentary had been tainted. This genre of documentary aims to tell a genuine story with no reconstruction or trickery. Everything has to be genuine.

As we see from the footage above Gordon Buchanan was able to get the camera right up to the den and film the wolf cubs from the mouth of the den. This technology is great for story telling because it provides the camera operator with greater flexibility. He is able to get the camera to where he wants it to be without going there in person. In theory animal behaviour is genuine.

Sensory: BBC Wildlife Director John Downer & the technology of 'spy-cam' filmmaking from Getty Images on Vimeo.

With this technology a greater variety of shots can be achieved, from flying with specific birds to traveling under water with penguins and lounging in a pool with tigers. In essence spy creature cameras allow wildlife filmmakers to get genuine animal interactions without relying on luck. They can make their own luck and the natural history documentary genre benefits.