A BBC crew recently spent 5 weeks in the flooded forests of Brazil filming for One Planet, the next big landmark from the Natural History Unit (TX due autumn 2016). Their aim was to film a new and very shy species of river dolphin as well as birds and other animals for the ‘Jungles’ episode of the series.
In the wet season, there is so much rain in this area that the whole forest becomes submerged. There are almost no patches of land so all the filming had to be done from boats.
The team wanted to avoid using traditional petrol motors as much as possible - not just to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels, but to reduce air and noise pollution. So, they took with them Torqeedo’s electric motors; small but powerful boat motors that can be charged with a solar panel.
They covered a few km each day on their search for the wildlife. The crew set up the flexible solar panel on the boat so that the motor could charge on the go. The motor was powerful enough to commute between locations quickly (12 knots) and robust enough to cope with being bashed through the tangled tree roots!
Most of the filming, however, was done at low boat speed (2-3 knots). At this speed, with the solar panel on, they could keep going for hours and get smooth shots with their cameras mounted in jibs in the boat.
The best thing however was that the engine is so much quieter than a petrol motor. Being a little stealthier allowed them to film this elusive dolphin for the first time, right in the heart of the forest.