Filming animals in the wild is notoriously difficult, documentary makers can spend weeks waiting for that elusive shot. Filming outdoors, in often difficult conditions presents an extra challenge, and since many animals travel or feed under the cover of darkness, film crews need to make sure the footage they capture at night is every bit as dynamic and effective as that they capture during the day.
The BBC recently aired a documentary entitled Great Rift. The programme focuses on the diverse wildlife in Africas vast Great Rift Valley and in particular on a troop of approximately 100 baboons who have made their homes inside hollow lava tubes along the rift. These lava tubes protect for the baboons from predators, particularly big cats which prowl the baron landscape in search of prey.
Filmed in June 2009, the BBC crew used 10 of Boschs AEGIS infrared illuminators for the Great Rift documentary. The crew installed the illuminators inside the lava tubes when the baboons left to feed, then crawled inside and awaited their return. Working in such dark and cramped conditions proved quite a challenge, but the AEGIS illuminators made the film crews efforts worthwhile, enabling them to capture previously unseen video footage of baboons in their natural habitat. As an added bonus the crew were also able to film the nocturnal behaviour of a large colony of bats which also inhabit the lava tubes.
Boschs AEGIS illuminators were selected because they are compact and discreet and powerful enough to enable broadcast quality night-time filming.
As series producer Phil Chapman explains; With HD programmes like Great Rift image quality is all important. The degree of detail in our infrared material was outstanding you can see the fine detail of the baboons fur, and even tiny parasites crawling on the foot of a baby bat.
Bosch Security Systems has supported a number of BBC natural history documentaries, providing equipment for shows like Spring and Autumnwatch with Bill Oddie and a 2006 documentary which followed rare Sumatran tigers.
AEGIS illuminators were also featured on the BBCs popular Big Cats Live series, monitoring the night-time activities of the Marsh Pride of Lions at Kenyas world famous Masai Mara game reserve.