Nature Documentaries or just a staged show?


There was once a time in every Indian household, where the entire family gripped the edge of their seat to see if the deer outran the lion. Wait a minute. Was this real or was it the excellence of an editor on the computer?

Watching documentaries give us an insight into the wild. We feel closer to their world and they way they behave in their natural habitat.

We have a supporting speaker Simon Cade from DSLR guide who reveals the backstory of all the sound effects, cutting, direction and even CG effects of these ‘real’ stories.


Sound always plays an important role in any visual media. Simon says *Wink* – it’s understandable that the camera can zoom in, but the microphone can’t. And we can’t expect a sound guy to go closer to the animals. So most of the sound effects are recorded in a studio.Since sound is pivotal to make a documentary immersive, the crew uses artistic license with audio or the effects recorded in the studio.
While the footage of the animals is real, a deeper analysis of the documentary will reveal greater truths.


All the nature documentaries have to be edited for a story that will engage the audience. The filming crew takes weeks of filming the subject. Editors will receive hours of footages and spend more number of hours choosing relevant moments that would provide a story with maximum emotional impact.
The story is crafted from a sequence of events that have been filmed at different times.
Simon points out an interesting fact – this editing approach humanizes animals, something like Pixar is doing in their movies.


Nature documentaries have an impact since it’s the story that keeps us interested. We would be bored if the video just had strings of events, facts and figures.
The editors develop the opportunity to meet the characters and get attached to them which gives us a certain story. We will want to see how the scenario ends. There are often sides to pick between “Good guys” and the “Bad guys”, One has to win.
Simon gives a good point: If the audience isn’t eager to see how it ends, then it probably wasn’t a story.


Let’s think the otherwise, what happens when the documentary is completely realistic? We would have to watch lengthy footages of some spot in nature, waiting for something to happen or potentially not happen. Thus It’s unavoidable to fake a little bit in nature documentaries.

Balance is the key to making a perfect successful nature documentary. Not everyone would be interested in watching the unedited version. On the contrast, some films can be misleading. They might use computer generated images or interfere with animal hunting to get better footage.
I don’t mind some storytelling and editing, I love to feel as if I’m watching a movie and follow the story. I know the footage of the animal and the facts about them are real, and that’s what matters to me.
What about you? Can you see nature documentaries as “real” even though they are edited and turned into a story? Or you think it’s what makes them fake?

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[VIA: diyphotography]