Drones and Viral Videos Help ‘Nature’ Thrive After 40 Years – Orange County Register
By BROOKE LEFFERTS
NEW YORK (AP) – Forty years ago, the programmers at PBS were eager to experiment, so they took a chance and started a new series on animal behavior in nature called “Nature”.
The show featured hour-long documentaries of natural landscapes from around the world, and at first didn’t even have a narration, so it could be sold in any TV market, without any language barriers. It was a success. âNatureâ is celebrating its anniversary this season, which includes a sweeping gaze of the Rocky Mountains, American horses, close examination of bees, and of course, adorable penguins.
While the series has evolved over the years, there is one person who has been there from the start. Fred Kaufman started out as a production assistant for three months and has now been executive producer of the series for 30 years.
Kaufman says “nature” has become even more compelling to viewers because science, movies, and technology are better. He’s also proud of the show’s storytelling and attention to global warming and the environment. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Kaufman spoke about how the series has evolved, which stories have had the most impact, and how viral videos have helped the genre.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: How has technology changed the show in 40 years?
A: When HD came along it was like ‘Whoa!’ All of a sudden you saw the detail that you hadn’t seen before, so that was a big difference. The glasses have become better, more diverse. It’s a big difference. Drones! Years ago if you wanted to get an antenna you had to rent a helicopter for $ 400 an hour and pay for fuel and an operator and just pray that you could get whatever you want in an hour … c was like a big deal. Now that you set up a drone, one person is piloting a drone: a steady shot. It really lets you see a landscape, gives you a new perspective on animals and placesâ¦ But I think one of the most important developments is that films about wildlife, behavior, little clips, have become. so viral on social media. I mean, they’re fun, they’re dramatic, they’re exciting. Chances are you’ve never seen this before.
Q: How does the show approach the places and animals to cover?
A: Everything we do is from an animal point of view. It is from the point of view of wild places and wild lands. What is the animal’s point of view on this? You show it from the photographer’s point of view, but can we move it around and do it from the animal’s point of view? And so, it’s … sort of calibrating your thinking and your script because it represents the animal’s point of view. What do they need? What are the resources for a healthy environment? How are agriculture and climate change impacting them? So that’s kind of what we turn to when we think about a topic and when we review the movie. Are we a voice for the natural world?
Q: How have you observed the effects of global warming?
A: The most obvious visual elements are the shrinking polar caps, especially in the Arctic. We find that polar bears spend more time swimming and not on the ice because there are fewer of them. So they are more in the open sea. And that leads to fatigue and they need more food to eat. And they are suffering because of it. And this is sort of the most obvious example that we all see. But climate change is affecting migrations, and birds, for example, migrate following the paths of flowers and food sources that come out because when that day gets longer and the sun shines and it gets warmer and that plants bloom, et cetera, birds follow these paths. Now, with global warming, some of these events are happening earlier than usual. Thus, birds arrive late or too early, and this disrupts the nutrition and food they need to continue their migration.
Q: Which shows had the most impact?
A: One thing I’m very proud of is that many years ago we were the first to draw attention to colony collapse disorder with bees. And so that one turned out to be a really big story, and it’s still a story.
Q: What in nature still captures people?
A: Probably the most exciting thing in nature is going on an African safari, which is unlike anything in the world. I mean, you feel insignificant when you are there and see these great, beautiful and iconic animals up close. It’s surprising how close these animals come together, and you see these beautiful landscapes stretching for miles. It’s impressive. It really gets into you and stays with you and you know, you’ve got goose bumps. We were in a vehicle in the middle of a herd of about 60 elephants in Africa and my heart was racing. I do not know why. It was just a reaction to being among these great wild animals – and elephants are in a class of their own. And sure, you know, you feel like they’re aware of you in a way that other animals aren’t. There is a consciousness there. And so, there are times like that, I think everyone lives, whether you’re in Yellowstone National Park or even Central Park, where it just has a calming influence.