Dances with Lions

The following is a test of your Courage Sticking Place system.

Amazing, no?

It’s an interactive mini-site called “The Serengeti Lion,” and it was released in conjunction with this month’s National Geographic article, “The Short Happy Life of a Serengeti Lion.” The editorial doesn’t feel particularly ground-breaking, but the immersive sights and sounds sure do. And the technological explanation behind them (from the mini-site’s description) manifests a lion’s share of human ingenuity and an almost superhuman amount of patience:

Photographer Michael “Nick” Nichols and videographer Nathan Williamson were determined to break new visual ground when they made several extended trips to the Serengeti between July 2011 and January 2013. A remote-control toy car and a rugged robot tank gave them an unobtrusive way to make images up close and at low angles. Two cameras were mounted on each device; Nichols controlled one and Williamson the other, a pairing that let the collaborators create a synchronized dance of photo and video. They took their time, letting the pride get used to these little machines. The robot, says Williamson, was made to be sturdy enough to stand up to a lion giving it a swat.“

…Night-vision cameras and goggles were used to capture images of the lions stalking prey. But most of the images and videos here were made using old-fashioned, camera-in-hand technology. Nichols shot 242,000 images and Williamson recorded 200 hours of video, often while lying on the floor of a specially outfitted Land Rover.

The footage Williamson and Nichols managed to capture is astonishingly …CLOSE. And I say that despite the fact that I didn’t turn the volume on my computer up all the way. Which is probably a good thing, or this “Roar” clip might have emptied my entire office building. (The robot gets its own video clip, as well. Always nice to see the “people” behind the camera getting some attention.)

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