Re: David Attenborough TV shows

To: "Philip A Veerman" <>, "John Leonard" <>
Subject: Re: David Attenborough TV shows
From: "Muir Environmental" <>
Date: Wed, 6 Jan 1999 15:34:24 +0800
Hi Philip and all

 "Yes and did you notice that the sequence on The Life of Birds where the
> Crowned Eagle captures a monkey then returns to its nest, that in what
> purports to be only about 5-10 seconds later there is only the rear half
> the monkey left. Likewise, the Peregrine Falcon that caught a pigeon over
> the British coast then returns to its nest, the pigeon appears to be
> plucked and headless."

The thing is, though, that to many viewers, film of an eagle munching all
of a monkey would be quite boring, and to some rather gory - it would
certainly be quite long, as the bird would often stop, look around, resume
feeding, etc. in a generally laid-back manner, unless it hadn't fed for
days.  The same applies to the Peregrine Falcon scenes - the general viewer
is probably not that interested in pigeon feather plucking and head

Thus during editing, etc. the editor chooses to edit out some of the
potentially boring/gory or whatever footage to allow for other perhaps what
he/she perceives is more exciting footage.  Its easy to lose your audience
if you bore them with "excessive" footage of any one subject.  Most viewers
tend to prefer regular change of viewpoint, especially in wildlife film.

I have been carefully editing three of my own 90-minute wildlife video
films (taken in Kenya) down to just over one hour.  Editing is a very
exacting job and to avoid boring one's viewing audience, one needs to
select only the best and potentially most interesting footage, and provide

So I fully appreciate why you get such scenes as you describe of the
Crowned Eagle and Peregrine Falcon feeding(s).

"If it fascinates people around the world in TV land and increases concern
for such things then it is worthwhile."

I absolutely agree - TV I'm sure, has increased peoples' awareness of
what's out there...

Happy viewing/birding

Jenn Muir

> From: Philip A Veerman <>
> To: John Leonard <>
> Cc: birding aus <>
> Subject: Re: David Attenborough TV shows
> Date: Sunday, 3 January 1999 9:52
> Even so, it was rather impressive. Engineering and editing scenes for
effect is not
> limited to wildlife films. We have come a long way since the Walt Disney
> engineered myth of the lemmings committing suicide by jumping off a cliff
> and the contrived Wild Kingdom films of Marlin Perkins of the early
> As for the Lyrebird, I suggest the fascinating aspects are not so much
> many species of bird or other sounds it mimics but the way it uses those
> assumed sounds as additives or punctuation in its own vocabulary of
> specific messages and the geographic variations in both those aspects of
> vocal repertoire. Our Lyrebird is impressive but after all, there are
> birds that use vocal imitation. It is only the Regent Honeyeater uses it
> true mimicry (analogous to the way insects use mimicry) for an
> purpose.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Leonard <>
> To:  <>
> Date: Sunday, 3 January 1999 10:40
> Subject: David Attenborough type TV shows
> >I just thought I'd follow up the discussion of the Lyrebird song
> in
> >DA's Life of Birds (which screens tonight, I think), with some further
> >thoughts on wildlife films.
> >
> >I think I'm probably very intolerant of the gimicks of TV because for
> >of my adult life (about 18 years), I've hardly ever watched TV. But now
> >have a TV and video to get the children off our backs for a few minutes
> each
> >day and they have started to like watching David Attenborough type
> programs.
> >I think that these are quite good in the main, but watching one on
> >last night I was struck by how tacky the raptor-pursuit sequence is. I'm
> >describign the familar here, but this sequence involves picture of
> >looking raptor, cut to picture of terrified looking animal, cut back to
> >raptor swooshing along, cut back to terrified animal running away.....
> >obviously these are just two completely different sequences spliced
> together
> >and the sign of this is that the chase is always unsuccessful, the
> >lands in a cloud of dust, cut to animal dashing into bush). The only
> we
> >see a raptor catching something it is in a very distant shot, as with
> >Philippines Monkey Eagle sequence in last night's show.
> >
> >I might be carping here, but why do TV shows have to try and show you
> >hardly anyone ever sees? Why couldn't it restrict itself to what people
> >really see of eagles, namely either perched in trees, or soaring, or
> >flying by (after all most raptors only need to kill once or twice a day,
> and
> >the chances of seeign this are quite minimal). The reason why I think
> >is an important point is that it might well be that such shows encourage
> >people to get up and go out and visit nature reserves &c, and the dnager
> >that if they don't see really spectacular things on their first visit
> >may get disillusioned and think that wildlife antics are just another TV
> >gimmick.
> >
> >John (the Luddites had a few good points) Leonard
> >
> >
> >

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