Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Speed of Life"

The Discovery Channel has begun airing a new series called "Speed of Life". There were three episodes on last Sunday night and the show looks like it will run every Sunday.

The series is made up completely of footage of wild animals shot with cameras capable of taking several thousand frames per second (I think).

It's great reference for animators and any other artist to watch. Just twenty years ago at CalArts I struggled to find any kind of footage of moving animals to help understand how different animals moved. There was no internet yet, of course, and I used to collect nature shows on VHS tapes and laserdiscs voraciously to try and wrap my head around how all types of birds, mammals, reptiles and fish behave and move. It was a frustrating, time consuming and expensive method of study.

These days it's a lot easier. There are a ton of great nature shows out there (I don't watch any of them but I hear many of them are spectacular) and I'm sure they are all worth watching. I really enjoyed watching this one in particular because the frame-by-frame movement can be really helpful for understanding how certain animals are put together and how they move - some of them move so quickly in real life that you can't really see what's happening until it's slowed down. I really believe that the subjects of how an animal is put together and how an animal moves cannot be studied independently of each other ...the two subjects are so closely related that they should always be considered together. You could look at pictures of leopards forever - and pictures are great for studying - but seeing one in motion really tells you how they are put together and why.

Anyway, set your Tivo for it and check it out if you're interested.


3 comments:

Daniel Caylor said...

I see they've found an outlet for all the extra footage they must have from the Life and Planet Earth series. Those are incredible, and I have all of them and watch them whenever I need to veg out.

Sarah said...

This pbs doc is one of the only nature docs I've seen that has a focus on biomechanics http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/moment-of-impact/introduction/5583/
(you can watch a good deal of it online)

"The Life of Birds" (David Attenborough) was spectacular and made me immediately wonder why some of these birds and their mating dances have not been animated because of how strange and comical they are. It's available to watch instantly on Netflix!

mark kennedy said...

Dan - really? Is it leftover footage? Oops, my bad....

Sarah - I'll check it out, thanks for the link!