‘America The Beautiful’ shows cutting-edge aerial photography
There’s a lot to love about America. Armed insurgencies to overthrow the will of the people and court rulings that overturn decades of legal precedent and go against the will of the majority, despite the awe-inspiring beauty and wonders of nature, exist across the country. . A new series from National Geographic, “america the beautiful“gives you a front row seat to see the nature of America as few are fortunate enough to see for themselves.
america the beautiful
The six-part series from Vanessa Berlowitz and Mark Linfield, the award-winning team behind “Planet Earth” and “Frozen Planet.” The series is narrated by “Black Panther” and “Creed” actor Michael B. Jordan.
The six episodes are:
- land of heroes
- water country
- far west
- The best of worlds
A press release from the series explains, “Each episode of ‘America The Beautiful’ features smart and brave animal heroes of all sizes – from grizzly bears to bald eagles, mountain lions to honeypot ants – whose antics fun and amazing come to life with character-directed storytelling.To capture elusive animal behaviors never seen before in the field, a new generation of remote cameras and gyro-stabilized cameras were used.In the latest episode, to celebrate the heroes of Human Conservation America, the producers worked directly with indigenous tribes such as the Chippewa Cree of the Rocky Boy Reservation in Montana to film the reintroduction of bison and the Gwich’in people of Alaska to document the battle to protect the arctic refuge from oil exploration.
The need for speed
From the perspective of a human lifetime – or even the nation’s nearly 250-year history – it seems that America’s mountains and rivers never change. The reality, however, is that nature is constantly adapting and changing. America’s unique geography pushes the forces of nature to extremes, shaping and reshaping the land over time.
These regions and these animals have already been filmed, notably by National Geographic. However, one thing that makes “America The Beautiful” unique is that it’s the first natural history series to put cinema-grade cameras on fighter jets. The series takes viewers on a breathtaking ride through some of Earth’s most awe-inspiring landscapes, revealing rich, textured worlds that are unique to the continent. Jet-mounted cameras show how America’s landscapes fit together and shape each other, revealing how the Sierra Mountains created the Mojave Desert or how the Colorado River carved the Grand Canyon. The same aerial system also allowed the team to film wild weather, including footage of supercells and close-range tornadoes.
I spoke with Director of Aerial Photography Greg Wilson about cutting edge aerial photography. He told me he enjoyed working on this project because it kind of allowed him to get back to his roots as a natural history photographer. “But this time, the implementation of very sophisticated technical camera systems mounted on the nose of aircraft, and the shooting capabilities that we have been able to create with these technological tools are unprecedented.”
Wilson said to me, “They gave us a lot of freedom and a lot of confidence to develop the shooting skills and the team to be able to come up with shots that really have never been done before and these great images that no one has ever seen.”
To capture the aerial images, they used a Shotover F1 Rush. It is a very sophisticated piece of equipment and there are only three of them. It is a six-axis stabilized camera system in a jet-powered configuration capable of handling up to 350 knots of speed and 3G of force on the gimbal.
“We’ve taken that and pushed a lot of our own technology development, both with Shotover and with our technicians to make sure the system will be on top. The demands we place on it are very different from your typical Hollywood movie where you need the camera to be perfect for 15 seconds to get your shot for “Top Gun.” I’m not denigrating this type of work, but some of our shots last more than 45 minutes to be perfect in sometimes very hectic environments. So there’s been a tremendous amount of effort to create a one-of-a-kind tool that really works in the most demanding situations that I think a camera has ever been installed in.
A quick note: National Geographic recognizes that capturing aerial imagery from fighter jets has environmental consequences. They have purchased carbon credits from projects that reduce emissions, benefit communities and support biodiversity to offset production emissions, including emissions from aircraft used for filming.
The six episodes of “america the beautifulwill be available to stream exclusively on Disney+ starting July 4 — Independence Day. You really should check it out. If you love nature, democracy, religious freedom and human rights, you should also be sure to vote in November.