Globalstar Europe Satellite Services Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar Inc. the leader in satellite messaging and emergency notification technologies, announced today that its SPOT Gen3 safety devices and GSP-1700 satellite phones were used by BBC and PBS film crews as they tracked wildlife mass migrations in Africa, USA and Canada for major documentary series Nature’s Epic Journeys.
The Bristol-based BBC Natural History Unit and US public broadcaster PBS co-produced the landmark series of documentary films in 2015 and 2016. To make the programmes, film crews and scientists undertook multiple journeys to track and record caribou migrating across the remote Arctic of Canada and Alaska; herds of elephants traversing the expanses of East Africa; and herds of zebra as they travelled across Botswana.
Nature’s Epic Journeys features high quality footage of the animals undertaking the mass migration, but a large part of the story the filmmakers wanted to tell is how camera crews followed and filmed them, regardless of the hardships involved.
Highlighting how technology plays a pivotal role in wildlife television production, the team used a suite of solutions including satellite tracking, bespoke mapping, and migration pattern analysis software developed by the scientists travelling with the film unit.
As the film crews tracked the wildlife - many of which are already GPS tagged - on foot, from helicopters and 4x4 vehicles, they carried SPOT Gen3 safety devices and Globalstar GSP-1700 satellite phones. This allowed the team at base camp to be in constant communication and able to track their colleagues in the field and, if needed, to provide emergency help.
A dedicated SPOT web page with Google Maps showed the movements of the SPOT satellite devices as the crew tracked the animals. This allowed the production team at base to keep up with the locations of the crews at all times, wherever the herds led them.
An important requirement was the need to ensure crew safety as the teams followed wild animals across thousands of miles in some of the most remote and inhospitable environments imaginable. The crew used SPOT’s check-in feature to send periodic messages to colleagues, keeping them apprised of the teams’ movements, as well as sending regular email notifications confirming that all was OK.
The crew used their GSP-1700 satellite phones to co-ordinate re-supplies as well as talk to editorial and production teams back at the BBC and PBS. Also, they used the satphones to check in with friends and family back home.
In the event of an emergency, SPOT’s SOS button instantly sends the user’s GPS co-ordinates to alert first responders. Fortunately, there was never a need for the crew to activate this service but everyone valued the peace of mind.