Published on February 18th, 2013 | by Brent Sumner0
‘Africa’ Series Gains Popularity
Image courtesy of sxc.hu.
Brent Sumner, Assistant Temp Editor
A co-production between Discovery Channel and BBC called “Africa” premiered Tuesday, Jan. 8, and it has been intriguing audiences for the past month. The seven-part series will conclude on the last Tuesday of February.
For those who have not seen the wildlife documentary, it involves traveling to all types of locations in Africa to witness the beauty of the environment. It also indulges viewers with trips to unique biomes, such as the rainforest, desert and savannah.
“My experiences with documentaries go back a long time,” said Lee Witkowski, environmental science adjunct professor. “Documentaries in the ’60s were strictly informational. They didn’t even talk about food chains, and they put stuff in kind of by accident. Current documentaries tend to have a theme behind them, whether it is the extinction of an animal, or degradation of an environment. They are usually animal-related, because that is what sells.”
The team who put “Africa” together spent four years collecting footage on the vast wildlife, and they also made the natural history series, “Life.” The show’s website boasts that it shows some never-before-filmed species, animal behaviors and natural wonders of the world.
“I would say that the most significant aspect of these types of shows in general is the awareness they bring to the viewing cultures around the world,” said Gregory Kientop, adjunct professor of the biology department. “Too few of us ever get anywhere close to these natural systems to see anything, let alone truly appreciate the elegance of our world. They serve a purpose too; often the simple act of a visit with intent to view can offset a natural system in ways we cannot appreciate fully.”
In order to capture the animal behaviors on film, production teams spent 1,598 days on location across 79 separate expeditions in 27 countries. They also utilized 21 different types of cameras to shoot more than 2,000 hours of footage. Of the 553 cameras deployed throughout the series, only eight of them were lost or damaged. The “Africa” team obviously had not only an amazing adventure, but an exhausting one as well.
“The show really shows every aspect of the continent,” said Lewis student Phil Warner. “Not only do they show the bigger animals like the giraffes, elephants and rhinos, but they also show the life cycles of plants and bugs. It is a well-constructed show.”
The show only has a couple more episodes left, so for those who haven’t seen the production yet, it is strongly encouraged.
As for future productions, Witkowski thinks he has a good idea.
“I would like to see a documentary on prairies; that is a personal favorite of mine,” he said. “They could get into it historically, look at hill prairies, restoration, and there are prairies elsewhere in the world that they could look at. That would obviously not be continental like Africa, but it would be biome-specific. A lot of people think prairies are boring, but the Discovery Channel team is good at making things entertaining.”