‘Beavers and Bagpipes’ is an exciting 360° VR film exploring the reintroduction of the Eurasian beaver back into Scotland, 500 years after the last one was killed. However, releasing an animal which makes its home by completely altering the landscape isn’t always welcomed with open arms. Do we really have the right to bring back an animal in which our landscape has evolved without for half a millennia? Anthony De Unger travels with you to the depths of Argyll to find the answers.
The reintroduction of large animals back to their former haunts is a controversial issue, with many viewpoints across the whole spectrum. Being the UK’s first mammal reintroduction, beavers are somewhat an ambassador for the movement and so we wanted show the overwhelming value of bringing back beavers to the British Isles. A crucial shot in this was a quirky close up of a wild Eurasian beaver, to capture the audience’s imagination of what it would be like to see a beaver wild again in the UK.
Scotland is infamous for its rain, even in the height of the summer. Our team and our unwaterproofed rigs can now confidently confirm that this is in fact, true. The main challenge was certainly working around these deluges in what was already a tight shoot. The final shot of the film, the close up of the wild beaver, was no easy feat. The crew met someone that’s been on the reserve weekly for the last 5 years and still hasn’t seen one! With the help of a local guide, they managed to tempt Milly the beaver up onto the bank with small pieces of apple next to our camera rig, whilst they were sitting in the car praying it doesn’t rain. Using some elegant continuous recording solutions, they managed to leave rigs recording for four hours to make absolutely sure they filmed this key moment.
Other than the obvious world-first wild Eurasian beaver 360° shot, the film has some more subtle innovation; it uses a clear combination of presenter-led and ‘fly on the wall’ shots. The Biome team are big believers in the power of a presenter directly addressing you, the camera. However, used too much and the film becomes more about the presenter themself rather than the issue at hand. Therefore, a delicate balance between the styles can work beautifully.