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class="style8" Filming Animals

>Published : 16th February 2005

>We're filming a doc at the end of march about an animal rescue centre. We will be showing the stories about how and why some of the various animals got there. Are there any tips and tricks on shooting (err… filming) animals? There are your basic cats and dogs as well as emus, horses, alpacas, eagles and whatever else has no other home. I won't know exactly which animals we are shooting until a list is sent this week.

>Will likely be shooting indoors and out with natural light outdoors and small redhat kit indoors. I don't want to freak any animals out and I would also be able to shoot footage without having to chase them down.

>Now if I could just figure out how to get an emu to do a sitdown interview.

>Denny Lajeunesse
Filmmaker
Vancouver, BC


class="style9">>Are there any tips and tricks on shooting (err.. filming) animals?

>My biggest concern is always "where is the mic". Animals (especially the semi-tamed ones), hate that funny, fluffy, furry thing dangling overhead of them - which is very intimidating and threatening to them.

>Oh and one last thing - try not use reflective stuff and keep an eye on the animals behaviour to note if its irritated.

>Good luck

>Jacques Nortier
Wildlife cameraman, South Africa


class="style9">>We're filming a doc at the end of march about an animal rescue centre. >Are there any tips and tricks on shooting (err.. filming) animals? There >are your basic cats and dogs as well as emus, horses...

>I have shot horses before and they seem to have a fear of large white sources. So be careful if using white reflective material.

>Jim Sofranko
NY/DP


>Jim Sofranko wrote :

class="style9">>I have shot horses before and they seem to have a fear of large white >sources. So be careful if using white reflective material.

>I don't have any concrete proof (as there was no trial), but based upon one experience, I would be careful using a zoom lens when near a horse at an angle at which the horse could see the internal element shoot in and out, as might happen if you quickly zoomed all the way in to check focus and then back out to get the shot. Think about it: it looks like very strange eye movement from the horse's perspective.

>We did get a great shot of surprised passengers in a runaway horse carriage on a downtown street as the departing carriage literally ran two of it's wheels over the driver's back as she fell to the pavement 30 yards into the chase still clutching the harness.

>The owner of the carriage claimed that the lens spooked the horse.

>Dunno ?

>John McDaniel
Audio Post Facility Owner
Sonic Arts Digital Audio Services, Inc.
Cincinnati, OH USA


class="style9">>I have shot horses before and they seem to have a fear of large white >sources. So be careful if using white reflective material.

>By contrast Jim, Emus love anything that is "curious" to them.

>In the Australian Outback we used to "pull" them from a long way away to be filmed much closer, by waving a bright towel or similar, or even flashing a heliograph, (signalling mirror) in their eyes. The more curious they are of what it is they see, the further they come from, to investigate.

>A large white reflector would probably be perfect for this. But then as a NY city boy Jim, you knew that of course....

>Kindest Regards

>LAURIE K GILBERT s.o.c.
Motion Picture Director of Photography
HD Cinematographer

>L'IMAGE CINEMATOGRAPHY - Based in Asia - Filming the world
Global Web Presence : www.limage.tv


class="style9">>But then as a NY city boy Jim, you knew that of course....

>Of course, of course.

>Jim Sofranko
NY/DP


class="style9">>Now if I could just figure out how to get an emu to do a sitdown >interview.

>As I said in a previous post, make an emu curious about something it sees, and it will come to you. I have absolute no idea how to make it sit down however.

>Many years ago a Sydney producer sent a reporter out to interview the "PG Tips" chimpanzee - this was an intelligent chimp who would move his lips on direction from his trainer and they would add the dialogue later to match the requirements of the tea commercial.

>The interviewer asked the same "sensible" questions straight that he would have asked say an Australian politician and the producer of the piece then added answers in post as if the chimp was even smarter than the reporter - he never, ever lived it down..

>Kindest Regards

>LAURIE K GILBERT s.o.c.
Motion Picture Director of Photography
HD Cinematographer


class="style9">> I have shot horses before

>They shoot horses, don't they?

>I just didn't think you were the type, Jim. I'm telling PETA!

>Jeff Kreines


>Last year I shot 13 episodes of "Campus Vets" a reality-doc series based at a veterinary teaching hospital - we saw a little bit of everything! Could be similar to what you're doing in terms of animals being "in distress."

>It's important to keep in mind that if they're injured, or have been rescued from a bad home, they may not react as you would normally expect them to. So exercise extra caution until you have some feel for the animal's "psychological" state.

>I found that the animals generally liked me, and I had very few problems overall. There was one dog that appeared to be afraid of me - he had been rescued from an abusive home, and the vets' theory was that something about me reminded me of his previous owner. The other camera operator had no problem with the same dog, so there was obviously something about me...

>I don't know if I fully agree with John's theory about zoom lenses and horses - but I certainly agree that they can get skittish if you walk up to them with a camera on your shoulder. If I had a chance to spend a couple of minutes with the horse before putting the camera on my shoulder, things seemed to go better. (The field producers actually started a collection of stills of horses nuzzling me while I was trying to shoot - maybe it's my aftershave...)

>Certainly, if you're afraid of an animal, most of them can sense that and will respond by getting aggressive. I once had to "babysit" a cheetah for an hour (long story) and before he'd leave me with her, the trainer had me get down on the floor with her and get very close – she ended up licking my face and ... "purring." At that point he felt comfortable leaving her with me, as he said she wouldn't have behaved that way if I was giving off the "prey" scent. (I was afraid to ask what she would have done then!!)

>When you're shooting with larger animals, use 2-system sound or wireless so you're not connected to anyone by cable. You may need to move quickly and the cable can cause real problems if you've got to get out of the way of, say, a horse that's freaking out. Again, your comfort level will vary - one of our field producers was never really able to get a feel for horses, while I seemed to "guess right" pretty consistently. (Be careful about crouching down to get a low angle shot and then getting up suddenly - they don't like that a whole lot!)

>If you're shooting raptors (eagles, hawks, etc.) always wear gloves and a heavy leather jacket. It's very cool to have a golden eagle perch on your arm - not so much if the talons dig into your flesh. Many vets & biologists require eye protection, and sometimes helmets, when working around birds of prey. I've seen a great horned owl attack a bird-bander who was climbing to her nest - the helmet he was wearing certainly saved him from needing a whole lot of stitches.

>Make sure all your regular shots (tetanus, etc.) are up to date... and depending on the area you're in, you may be well advised to get a rabies shot as well. I survived 8 months with only a single animal bite, from a ferret... But that may be as much luck as skill.

>George Hupka
Director/DP
Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada


class="style9">>We're filming a doc at the end of march about an animal rescue centre. >Are there any tips and tricks on shooting (err...filming) animals? There >are your basic cats and dogs as well as emus, horses..

>If you let them 'accept' reflectors, it's possible they'll be just fine. Just no quick moves with them. We've shot lots of horses, some get used to reflectors, other pitch a fit.

>Michael Vitti

>Shoot, edit + animate!
NYC FCP Users Group Leader