Autumnwatch: Changing of the Guard - November 2013 | BBC 2

This is a short film made for Autumnwatch about migration. In Britain we are lucky to live where swallows spend the summer and geese spend the winter. Between them these birds travel a large part of the globe. When the wind swings into the north and the swallows leave I love to think of them spending the winter in the company of elephants while the geese have just parted from polar bears in Greenland. These are barnacle geese by the way, rather than white-fronted geese.

 

Wild Cameramen at Work - 2013 | BBC Scotland

Wild Cameramen at Work, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, featured John, Mark Smith, Doug Allan and Doug Anderson; all Scottish-based wildlife cameramen.
This clip is of one of John's favourite filming experiences, a murmuration of starlings coming to roost in a reed bed in Gloucestershire, watched by Bill Oddie.

 

Hebrides - Islands on the Edge - Clips - July 2013 | BBC2

The series went down very well when it was first shown just in Scotland and has also had a network transmission on BBC2.

Twitter: #BBCHebrides

DVDs and Blu-ray discs of the series are now available here on Amazon for instance.

Continue reading: Hebrides - Islands on the Edge - Clips - July 2013 | BBC2

 

Hebrides series - 2011-12 filming | BBC Scotland

The spring was very busy. A huge pod of common dolphins which came close to Skye in May were a great bonus.

Continue reading: Hebrides series - 2011-12 filming | BBC Scotland

 

Wild Arabia - BBC | November 2011/March 2012

Wild Arabia is a three-part series produced by the BBC Natural History Unit. John filmed in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and in Jordan.

There were three parts to the UAE shoot: to film camel racing, falconry in the desert and the flocks of flamingoes which winter close to the spectacular skyline of Dubai city.

You can see a sequence John filmed of harriers hunting migrant songbirds here and of camel racing here.

Continue reading: Wild Arabia - BBC | November 2011/March 2012

 

Frozen Planet | BBC 1 and Discovery Channel

John was a wildlife cameraman on Frozen Planet, the BBC's polar sequel to Planet Earth, which started transmission towards the end of October 2011. There are seven episodes in total.

He filmed shearwaters and humpbacked whales gathering to feed in the Aleutians, gentoo penguins exploding from waves and being hunted by southern sealions in the Falkland Islands, emperor penguins leaping from the Ross sea in super slow motion then struggling back to their colony, young adelie penguins leaving their colonies on the Antarctic peninsula and learning to swim while leopard seals hunted them through the ice floes, fur seals fighting and giving birth in South Georgia where young wandering albatross were also taking their first flights, polar bears eating berries and wrestling on the coast of Hudson Bay as well as searching for nesting eider ducks and Arctic terns in Svalbard where other Arctic birds, including Brunnich's guillemots, nest on immense seacliffs.

You can see one of the series trailers here.

And a slow motion clip of a sealion hunting gentoo penguins from Programme One here.

Continue reading: Frozen Planet | BBC 1 and Discovery Channel

 

A View through a Lens - series 3 | BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4

You can listen to all five programmes here.

Wildlife cameraman John Aitchison often finds himself in isolated and even dangerous locations across the globe filming wildlife. In this series he reflects on the uniqueness of human experience, the beauty of nature, the fragility of life and the connections which unite society and nature across the globe.

1.Taking the Plunge
On a remote island close to the Antarctic Circle, hungry leopard seals patrol the waters where young Adelie penguins are learning to swim.

2. Funky Chickens
In Kansas, land of the prairies and the ‘wild west’, John discovers some very funky chickens.

3. Patience
John travels to Svalbard to film polar bears hunting for food and reflects on what it means to be patient.

4. Fur Seals
On a very small island in the South Atlantic, amidst the noise and aggression of battling male fur seals, something very beautiful and tender happens.

5. Shearwater Hurricane
John travels to the Aleutian islands to film one of Nature’s greatest feeding spectacles.

Written and presented by wildlife cameraman John Aitchison
Additional sound recordings by Chris Watson and Miles Barton
Produced by Sarah Blunt

 

Stamps feature Frozen Planet wildlife and cameramen

South Georgia and the British Antarctic Territories regularly issue their own stamps which are collected all over the world.
In September 2011, to commemorate the new BBC series Frozen Planet, South Georgia will issue stamps with photos of wildlife and of the four wildlife cameramen Ian McCarthy, John Aitchison, Ted Giffords and Martyn Colbeck filming for the series.
Time to get used to having our backs licked! Will it tickle?

Read more about the stamps here.

Continue reading: Stamps feature Frozen Planet wildlife and cameramen

 

Slow motion filming for National Geographic in Brazil | April 2011

This is the island of Fernando de Noronha off the coast of Brazil where John spent two weeks this April.

Continue reading: Slow motion filming for National Geographic in Brazil | April 2011

 

Living in a blizzard in the Cairngorms | February 2011

Ptarmigan are some of the hardiest birds in the world. These two, on Cairngorm mountain, were busily feeding in high winds and drifting snow when I filmed them for a BBC series, Cairngorms - A Year in the WIld.

Continue reading: Living in a blizzard in the Cairngorms | February 2011

 

Polar bears wrestling | November 2010

Polar bears wrestling from John Aitchison on Vimeo.

Young polar bears waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze pass the time by wrestling. This looks like play and perhaps it is but it also allows the bears to test each other's strength, saving them from dangerous fights if they should encounter each other later out on the ice.



 

Polar bears | Seal River Lodge, Canada

A polar bear at sunrise with ice fog rising behind it. Hudson Bay is starting to freeze.

Photo courtesy Sean Crane.
You can see more of Sean's excellent wildlife photographs here.

Continue reading: Polar bears | Seal River Lodge, Canada

 

A View Through A Lens - series 2 | BBC Radio 4 Autumn 2010

John often finds himself in isolated and even dangerous locations across the globe filming wildlife, and in this series he reflects on the uniqueness of human experience, the beauty of nature, the fragility of life and the connections which unite society and nature across the globe.

Photo courtesy Chadden Hunter.

Continue reading: A View Through A Lens - series 2 | BBC Radio 4 Autumn 2010

 

BAFTA for Yellowstone "Winter" Cinematography | May 2010

The Yellowstone camera team (John, Paul Stewart, Shane Moore, John Shier and Aerial Camera Systems) were given the BAFTA Factual Cinematography award in May.
John was delighted to be there with Producer Andrew Murray and AP Nathan Budd to accept the award on everyone's behalf.
The series was also nominated for a Cinematography Emmy.

 

A View Through A Lens - series 1 | BBC Radio 4 2009

One episode ("Wolves") was about John's experiences trying to film Yellowstone's Druid Peak wolf pack hunting elk in the depths of winter.

All five episodes were broadcast in December 2009 and repeated in 2010.
Produced by Sarah Blunt of the BBC Natural History Unit, Bristol.
BBC series link.

 



Twitter


You can follow John (@johnaitchison1)
on Twitter here.

 

Latest News...

During January John filmed in and around the Cairngorm mountains for Winterwatch and is now filming for a forthcoming BBC1 series about predators and prey, called The Hunt.


Frozen Planet at Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival

In September the camera team for Frozen Planet won the Best Cinematography award at Jackson Hole.


A View Through a Lens

The 3rd series of these programmes about filming wildlife was repeated on Radio 4 in August.
If you missed it you can listen to all five episodes here.


Disney Nature - Bears

John has recently been part of a team filming coastal brown bears in Alaska for a documentary feature for Disney Nature, to be released first in the USA in April 2014. The trailer is here.

Wild Cameramen at Work

BBC Scotland's series on wildlife filmmakers born or living in Scotland went out on BBC2 in July and August as part of the Summer of Wildlife season. Twitter: #Wildcameramen

The series website and clips are here.

Hebrides - Islands of the Edge
Narrated by Ewan McGregor

John spent 240 days filing the topside wildlife for this four part series.
Doug Anderson filmed underwater. Nigel Pope was the exec/series producer and produced prog 1, John produced prog 2, Sue Western edit-produced prog 3, Kate Munro and Amanda Reilly produced prog 4.
Editing by Nick Carline, Martin Elsbury and Alex Broad.
It's a Maramedia production in association with Otter Films and was commissioned by BBC Scotland.
A quarter of Scots watched the first episode.
The series website, with video clips, is here.

The series trailer is on YouTube here.

Ewan McGregor Narrating 'Hebrides - Islands on the Edge'

"It's one of the most beautiful films I have seen".

John directed Ewan's narration for the second programme. It was a real pleasure to see how much skill and intelligence Ewan brought to all the films.

Wild Arabia

Sixty Years in the Wild

John filmed with Sir David Attenborough and Lloyd and Rose Bucks' imprinted greylag geese on Loch Lomond for David's next BBC series, Sixty Years in the Wild. The series was shown in November 2012.

There is a clip here.

Frozen Planet Wins at Wildscreen

At the Wildscreen festival in Bristol on October 18th 2012 Frozen Planet was honoured with Panda awards for sound, best series and cinematography.

Nigel Wilkes of Panasonic UK presented the Cinematography Panda to John, Mark Smith, Doug Anderson and Hugh Miller, on behalf of the many cameramen in the team.

Frozen Planet Wins Emmy for Cinematography

In Los Angeles in September 2012 Frozen Planet 'Ends of the Earth' won the Primetime Creative Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography for a Non-fiction Programme and the Emmys for Non-Fiction Picture Editing and Sound editing. The series also won the Outstanding Non-Fiction Series Emmy. Well done everyone!

Frozen Planet Wins BAFTAs for Cinematography, Editing & Sound


On 13th May 2012 Frozen Planet won Craft BAFTAs for cinematography, editing and sound. John and underwater cameraman Doug Anderson collected the Cinematography BAFTA.
Read more here.

The Winter episode has also won the Royal Television Society award for Cinematography and the series won Best Cinematography at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula as well as several other awards there.

Other News

John and Mary-Lou have recently run several wildlife film-making training courses for rangers from the National Trust for Scotland. The Trust has some outstanding properties with world-class wildlife, like St Kilda and Mar Lodge.

On the evening of 8th April 2011 John gave an after-dinner speech to more than 600 people at the RSPB Members' Weekend at York University and in November he spoke at the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust's 50th Anniversary Celebration Event at Portsmouth Grammar School.
Read more here.

 

About...

Photo courtesy Charlie Phillips

John is a wildlife filmmaker. He has worked on many programmes for the BBC, National Geographic and Discovery Channel including Frozen Planet, Life, Big Cat Diary, The Natural World, Springwatch and Yellowstone.

An example of his work is The Amber Time Machine, part of the BBC's Natural World series, which John produced as well as being part of the camera team.
It features David Attenborough's quest to discover what amber can tell us about the past. You can watch it here on the BBC Earth YouTube channel.


You can download his CV here and a hi res picture here.

You can read his entries on the BBC's Earth Explorer website here.

And his piece on elephants and the Marsh Pride of lions in the Masai Mara, streamed live to the internet during the BBC's Big Cat Live series here - Click on "Cam Highlight".

John filmed wolves and geysers during the winter for the BBC's Yellowstone series.
The camera team won a BAFTA in 2010.

The BBC's Frozen Planet website is here.

 

Info...

You can contact John Aitchison by emailing him here.


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Design: Rebels in Control © 2010+

 

Advice for new camerapeople

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