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Behind the scenes filming on CBBC WIld


So...as I revealed earlier in the week, at 9am today my piece on CBBC Wild will be broadcast. I haven't yet seen the final version, so I hope you like it ! It all began a couple of months ago when a friend on Twitter sent me a tweet saying that the CBBC (children's BBC, if you're outside the UK) wildlife show were looking for young naturalists, and suggested I put my name forward. I've been on TV before (most recently on Winterwatch this year) and it sounded interesting, especially if it got more people my age interested in bone collecting. 

I got an email back saying that I was already well known at the BBC's Natural History Unit in Bristol (where most of the wildlife programmes are based, including Winter/Spring/Autumnwatch, and Ben Garrod's Secrets of Bones), and  I'm not sure what the exact selection process was, but a few weeks after that my parents got a call to arrange a date for filming. There were lots of forms to fill out, and the BBC got permission to film in one of the woods around my village, then in the middle of August, at 9am, the three person crew of Ruth, Abi and Steven arrived !

Filming is quite different to be interviewed by a journalist, or being photographed for a newspaper. The first difference is that everything takes much longer than you expect: for Autumnwatch it was three hours of filming for a three minute clip, and here it was two days filming for five minutes. The second difference is that many more people are involved. Ruth was both the producer and the camera operator, and she had the overall idea about how the piece would all go together, which is a big responsibility. 

This is Steven, the sound-man who came up from Glasgow. He put a mic on me on me at the start of each day and tucked it in my shirt, and he always wore headphones which could hear the sound from the big, green mic or from my wireless mic. I think the sound-man has the hardest job when filming because you have to get the sound perfect. 

 His job is to make sure the right things appear on the soundtrack, and that there isn't any background noise like cars or footsteps or my noisy brothers. He had a huge box which he wore on a harness was wired into the camera that Ruth used, which recorded the sound.

Abi was the third member of the crew. Her job was to make sure everything went as it should, as well as filming other details (like in my room) and shooting stills as well.

I had been in the woods a few days before to plan where we would be. I knew where there were a number of skeletons, like a hedgehog, a rabbit and a young red deer stag skeleton which I had come across a couple of weeks before, and I planned a route that was easy for the crew to walk through, as well as making it easy to find the red deer skeleton, which was in the middle of a dense plantation which was easy to get lost in.

The first thing you notice about being filmed is that everything gets filmed at least two or three different times. For example, when I was first filmed for Autumnwatch, Chris Packham and I would just sit chatting with the cameraman filming us both. But if I picked up something from my shelf, or showed him something, then the cameraman would ask me to do it again, so he had a close-up of me lifting it, then maybe another closeup of it in my hands. When the three clips were edited together, you actually hardly notice it when you watch it. It was the same here, so what might look like one action was actually shot lots of times. I think Ruth sometimes got me to do this when I got something wrong as well, but she was too polite to say so.

It felt strange being filmed  in a wood that I have walked in for years, especially because normally when I work through the wood I am being as quiet as possible to stalk the deer. Here it took us about two hours to walk what I would normally do in 15 minutes !

This was when we were at the red deer skeleton, which was the furthest point on the walk and the last part before we stopped for lunch. We had to film it about five times before we got it perfect.

The filming went well, but there is a lot of heavy equipment to carry about, including the massive camera tripod.

After the red deer we went back down onto the south path, then back to where we had parked the cars, and stopped for lunch. The last stage in the wood on that day was the uncovering of  the "Wild" letters which they had brought up from Bristol. This was shot on a tripod then the film was then speeded up so it only lasted a few seconds.

What we filmed, like the intro, we had to film over and over again. This was because either I said the wrong thing or the sound was wrong. But this this also helped me practise what I was going to say. We stopped for lunch before we did the best part. They got big foam letters which spelt "Wild". We covered the letters in sticks and Ruth filmed me taking off the sticks and then she speeded up the footage. It looked good !

At the end of the day the crew went up to film footage of my village from the moor to the south. It has been a long day !

We began the next day by filming me with my trail camera, because Ruth liked my footage of the red deer herd and the pine marten. We used a wood which looks quite remote, but is actually right next to a road so it's easier for the crew to bring equipment into (I'd filmed there before for STV, and it was the same wood where I found the frogs and toads).

We shot some footage of me walking and talking (which is tricky because Ruth had to walk backwards with the camera through uneven ground !) and then some showing me positioning the trail camera, then some more of dad being funny in front of the camera. This is Ruth showing me what that footage looked like:

Then we went back to film at my house, which was tricky because my brothers, Sam and Harry were in the house a the same time. Here I am rearticulating a seal flipper, with some extra skulls as props:

The last thing we filmed was me laying out my skeleton, Roger (who I wrote about last week). I laid him out and they speeded up the footage, like with the letters. I had a bit of a panic attack after I saw this picture, but luckily I didn't make the massive mistake which you see in this picture !

The final part of the day was filming the voice over for the piece before Ruth and I had a fight with the foam "Wild" letters.

I am really glad I got  filmed, and I'm looking forward to seeing it for real. Ruth, Steven and Abi were amazingly nice to work with and they even pretended to laugh at my dads bad jokes !

My one regret is I won't see the team again to thank them: although I'm down near their offices in Bristol when I give my talk about my book at the Bath Book Festival, they'll be doing the live show in Edinburgh then, so we'll miss each other completely ! But a big thank you to the whole Wild team all the same.

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Matt Williams said...

Just watched it! It looked AMAZING!

Melanie said...

Just saw it Jake, it was fantastic!

anonymous said...

it is wrong to pick up dead animals just for your benefit.whay would you do that it is crule and you should just let them be imagine if you where a dead bird and someone picked you up for no reason than just have your body

Robin Roe said...

Brilliant post, you really captured what it was like and made me feel like I was there. HA! Roger must have had quite an interesting gait... :)

Jake said...

Thanks ! I was annoyed I made one silly mistake but I thought it looked pretty good.

Jake said...

Thanks ! I've had nice comments from Ben Garrod and Chris Packham on Twitter as well.

Jake said...

Right, for starters I know you've tried to disguise who you are by leaving a false name and email, I can still see who you are from your activity on the human skull raffle post: http://www.jakes-bones.com/2014/08/human-remains-should-not-be-raffle.html !
But even though I think you are just trolling, here's a post where I answer that exact question: http://www.jakes-bones.com/2014/05/six-common-myths-about-bone-collectors.html

Jake said...

Certainly a bit of a limp !

Matt Williams said...

No. Collecting the bones of an animal can teach you about the life and the biology of the animal. As long as you leave some bones for the other animals to gnaw on and don't kill the animals just for their bones then it is perfectly fine.

Matt Williams said...

Shame that they didn't show the bit about your trail camera cos i LOVE trail cameras! 😃

Jake said...

I talk about the ethics of bone collecting in, ahem, my book, available from all good booksellers, or Amazon !

Matt Williams said...

Ive already got your book Jake, and it was amazing too.

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