To mark Earth Day, Apple TV Plus released “The Year Earth Changed,” a look at how nature and wildlife thrived as the world stayed in lockdown, and the second season of “Tiny World,” an intimate look at the tiny creatures that roam the planet.
The former was shot across seven continents over nine months, capturing everything from whales communicating openly as they breach the surface to sea turtles breeding freely on deserted beaches. The latter explored approximately 2,000 critters, including a shell-snouted lizard, a Harris Hawk and pompilid wasps. Both shows required numerous directors of photography across the world to capture the awe-inspiring moments.
Here, two of them, Russell MacLaughlin (“The Year Earth Changed”) and Alex Jones (“Tiny World”), select their favorite shots from the projects.
On The Prowl
During the first night of filming on the David Attenborough-narrated “The Year Earth Changed,” MacLaughlin managed to capture an epic close encounter, as a male leopard roamed around a safari resort.
While there was no certainty as to what footage would be captured, MacLaughlin kept the cameras (a RED Helium 8K and RED Komodo, utilizing Sony A7Siii lenses for nighttime filming), on the big cat as he walked around. Eventually, the animal noticed him, too.
“It was incredibly humbling, knowing the power of a big male as this leopard walked past me. Every encounter with the leopards in the camp was an absolutely surreal experience. It was a moment of co-existence with man and beast living together,” he says.
Executive producer, Mike Gunton adds, “What I loved was how Russell felt and how that leopard felt. That leopard was king of his world, he did not really care and it was an emblematic moment in the show.”
Jones worked on both seasons of “Tiny World” and has therefore contributed greatly to the 3,160 hours of footage captured for the series. His favorite shots, though, are the ones involving Harris hawks.
“I filmed the Harris hawks in high-speed hunting ground squirrels. These hawks are so interesting to watch and when they lock on to their prey, they make for an incredible display,” he says.
To capture these wild animals, he filmed on a phantom flex 4K camera, using 16-35 Canon and Sigma 60-600 lenses.
“It was a fun experience because when you typically want to get moving shots of animals, it requires all kinds of rigs and expensive heavy equipment,” he says. “The camera was beefy, I used myself as the main ‘body’ for movement. When running after flying hawks, it might be shaky in normal speed but speed it to 500 or 1000 frames a second and it looks as smooth as butter.”
Adds EP, Tom Hugh-Jones, “We used a lot of scientific probe cameras that you might use in that were developed for medicine to get really close because we wanted to show what it was like to be a hummingbird or a bee flying in the jungle.”
“Tiny World” and “The Year Earth Changed” are streaming now on Apple TV Plus.