Earth’s Frozen Kingdom was able to save money and carbon emissions by sourcing all their polar bear footage from Alaskan based cameraman Arthur Smith. He’s lived in the Inupiat village of Kaktovik in Alaska’s far north for more than ten years and has built up a considerable archive of wildlife footage from the region. The BBC used six minutes – 10% of the overall programme - of Arthur’s polar bear footage in the Winter programme, episode 3.
Acquiring this footage in the usual way by flying a UK based cameraman to Alaska with 500kg of kit (25 x 20kg peli cases of kit is standard for wildlife films) would create carbon emissions of around 9.5 tonnes. So the Alaska production team saved roughly the same amount of carbon emitted by two UK homes in a year.
Living in Alaska, Arthur Smith is obviously able to film speculatively over long periods so he could witness the polar bear behavioural changes over many months of the Arctic sea ice freeze-up. This brought another huge gain for the Alaska production team, delivering footage that a UK based cameraman could never have shot himself on one short trip. For many productions, choosing archive is a lower risk option than sending a crew for a short time, hoping that they’ll be able to film animal behaviour which is often unpredictable and affected by changeable weather.
See Arthur Smith’s blog on the BBC Alaska programme pages here.