Nature, Camera, Action! - The Secrets of Making Incredible Wildlife Films


Open: 18 July – 12 October 2014

Try to imagine the deepest oceans, the coldest continents, the most fearsome animals – wildlife filmmakers and photographers have faced it all in the pursuit of the perfect shot. This summer, let us take you and your family on an incredible journey as you discover how programmes like Frozen Planet and Deadly 60 are made.

Come and be amazed by pictures of insect wings taken in the 1840s and try to spot the cameras disguised as animals. You will see how photographers and filmmakers capture sounds and speeds beyond our human senses, and how ‘spy cams’ allow us get up close and personal with predators.

The whole family can get their hands on exhibits that demonstrate the challenges wildlife filmmakers face and how they overcome them. You will be able to pick up an explorer's backpack full of tools to help discover this incredible world. You’ll also be able to pick up some simple tips and tricks to help you create amazing nature films on your own doorstep – upload them to the Nature Camera Action Flickr group and they could even feature in the exhibition!


Spy Nautilus and dolphins, John Downer Productions

Explore what it’s like to be an underwater presenter and how to stay safe in oceans that are full of dangers.

Camera crews need to be able to breathe and stay warm in cold waters, and special equipment is needed to find and film sea creatures – even those that could make a meal of a camera crew!

On the ice

Polar Bear and Snowballcam, John Downer Productions

Extreme climates test filmmakers to the limit.

Freezing temperatures cause problems for camera crews and their kit, and working with polar predators is exciting but very dangerous. Try on some polar equipment and see if you could film a polar bear in a blizzard and meet the cameras cunningly disguised as penguins.

In the undergrowth

Microphotograph of a flea, c.1863 by Auguste Adophe Bertsch

You can crawl through the forest floor with the filmmakers as they capture amazing shots of wildlife that is usually too small or too slow to see and hear. Super-close-up cameras and special filming techniques are needed to reveal how insects and plants survive in the undergrowth.

In the air

Vulturecam, John Downer Productions

Come and take to the skies to find out how filmmakers take pictures from the air.

Lots of different technology and techniques are put to use, from helicopters and hot air balloons to tiny cameras that let the birds the take pictures themselves!

In the dark

Starlight camera in use, Ammonite Productions

You can enter the underground world to see animals in their burrows and use only the light from the stars to see animals at night.

Film crews use endoscopes, night-vision cameras and lots of patience to discover how they live. Crawl through our underground burrow and imagine how it would feel to film bats and bugs in the dark.

On safari

Filming elephants, Tigress Productions Ltd - George Bell

The sun and the sand in deserts can play havoc with cameras and filmmakers.

Find out how filmmakers track down the animals and use the latest, smallest equipment and even use camera traps fired off by the animals themselves to reveal their hidden secrets

On your doorstep

Richard and Cherry Kearton taking a photograph of a bird's nest

Could you be the next Steve Backshall or Naomi Wilkinson?

You don’t have to go to the desert or the arctic to find wildlife to film, there are loads of bugs, birds and animals on your own doorstep. We’ll show you some simple tips and tricks to create your own nature films and photographs in your garden, local park or schoolyard, and if you send them in to us they could even star in the exhibition!

Nature Camera, Action! The Secrets of Making Incredible Wildlife Films has been produced with support from the BBC Natural History Unit, BBC Earth and BBC History.