The stress within the air was palpable because the group of tv producers waited with bated breath to see what would occur because the Siberian tiger crept into the bear’s cave. This was a groundbreaking second within the making of wildlife documentaries, and one which shall be seen by hundreds of thousands who tune into Frozen Planet II.
It took three years of persistence and trial-and-error filming in Russian forests utilizing distant cameras to get the footage of the tigers coming into bears’ caves, mentioned Elizabeth White – who labored on the unique Frozen Planet and produced the award-winning “iguanas vs snakes” episode of Planet Earth II.
The tiger footage captured such a novel second, it even took David Attenborough without warning. White instructed the Observer that, after listening to studies that tigers typically caught hibernating bears, catching this on movie was “a labour of affection” and “appeared like discovering needles in a haystack”.
“We fully failed the primary 12 months, so we shifted our location in season two and obtained some pretty photographs – however no actual substance. Then an area photographer mentioned to us that our cameras have been too large – the tigers are seeing them. We seemed on the expertise he was utilizing, and positive sufficient the tigers have been detecting the bigger cameras.”
By then, “expertise had moved on”, mentioned White “and we have been capable of get a smaller digicam that was excessive sufficient decision, and we managed to get footage of tigers coming into the caves.”
She mentioned that Attenborough was “significantly wowed” with this footage of tigers and leopards. “We filmed each species utilizing the identical trails throughout the similar forest, which he was fascinated to see,” she mentioned.
He additionally “was very excited” by different scenes within the six-part collection together with killer whales creating waves to scrub seals off ice floes, movie of an Arctic bumblebee captured in her darkish snow hole utilizing a probe digicam, and an avalanche within the Canadian Rockies filmed, for the primary time in accordance with White, by a racer drone – a tiny new drone that has a 360-degree digicam and is managed by a headset and goggles.
“We obtained a workforce of younger guys who usually throw these drones down mountains chasing snowboarders, they usually have been recreation for having a go at making an attempt to seize avalanches,” she mentioned. “It’s some of the thrilling items of footage I’ve ever seen of a panorama.”
The 96-year-old Attenborough is famend for his curiosity in new expertise and “will get very excited by drones”, mentioned White. “That was all new and thrilling to him. He likes the tales he’s not heard earlier than, and it’s uncommon to search out one as a result of he’s been all over the place and seen the whole lot.”
Know-how has reworked documentary-making because the first Frozen Planet, she mentioned. “Once we filmed the unique collection about 11 to 12 years in the past, it was all form of pre-digital; a few of it was nonetheless being shot on tape. The technological advances during the last 10 years have been monumental.”
She mentioned that distant cameras and drones are permitting pure historical past crews to achieve “insights into new behaviours and [have] the power to movie in landscapes the place you’d by no means be capable of get a helicopter.”
“Within the mountains of China, we put small cameras above the snow line to seize wild panda footage in winter. We’ve obtained some charming footage of a male panda coming in, and he sticks his backside within the air and rubs it on a tree: it appears like he’s twerking or one thing.
“Clearly, you’d by no means get that usually – you couldn’t put a cameraman in a conceal for all of the months it took to seize it.”
Different highlights embody uncommon footage of female and male teen polar bears enjoying collectively on the ice.
Advances in cameras, together with “weatherised, cold-adapted cameras that you would be able to placed on the facet of glaciers to assist doc local weather change”, are giving viewers new insights into the disaster dealing with our planet, she added.
The manufacturing workforce and crew confronted quite a few challenges through the 4 years of filming Frozen Planet II, from making cameras polar bear-proof by working cables by means of scaffolding poles to making an attempt to make tiny cameras indestructible to New Zealand alpine kea parrots who winkled them aside (“one fully trashed certainly one of our cameras,” mentioned White).
Different trials included cameramen having to spend 10 days at a time acclimatising on an ice cap in Peru in an effort to change batteries on cameras, having to maintain the batteries heat underneath their garments, and tenting on ice floes within the Antarctic whereas making an attempt to cease melting by means of to the icy seas beneath.
However the effort is more likely to be rewarded by big audiences and to assist increase consciousness of local weather change and our altering world, as different BBC nature documentaries have achieved over time.
Pals of the Earth’s head of coverage, Mike Childs, mentioned: “The BBC’s implausible pure historical past programmes have been beaming the marvels of our planet into our properties for many years, and permitting us to quickly escape to magical locations we frequently know little or nothing about.
“Importantly, they haven’t solely helped increase consciousness concerning the magnificence and wonders of our pure world, they’ve additionally alerted us to its fragility and the myriad threats it faces.”
Childs identified: “The stark and heartbreaking photographs in Blue Planet II not solely highlighted the risks plastic air pollution poses, in addition they sparked an enormous public outcry which pressured the federal government and firms to take the difficulty much more severely and act on pointless plastic.”
Frozen Planet will air on Sunday 11 September at 8pm on BBC One.