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Let’s chew on our cameras

January 20, 2014 by awoodard@uoregon.edu   

I was initially skeptical about this video because it’s clearly a GoPro advertisement, and in the first couple of minutes it seemed to me like the GoPro use was gratuitous. I didn’t think the cameras attached to Kevin Richardson’s body were necessary, and I was more taken by the view from the car, where you get a clear sense of how giant these bear-hugging lions are. This seemed like a subject that wasn’t made for GoPros, but worked anyway because of talented producers and charismatic felines.

But GoPro convinced me with the sequence at 7:15. It’s so bizarre and organic, in a way that I think you could only get from letting hyenas chew on your camera. Then the crew stumbles into frame in a cage, we see lions chasing their car, and it occurs to me: this is a story about physical intimacy, about how different Richardson’s perspective is from those through a window or a computer screen. The story is about a human interacting with predators on predators’ terms, and the producers tell it by asking furred and bearded subjects alike to gratuitously–even roughly–play with expensive film equipment. Thank you GoPro. For contrast they add some clumsy-looking shots from the cage and the car, and what we get is an arresting visual portrait of ¬†Richardson’s privileged relationships. I can’t get over this moment¬†(great timing with the interview and music), or the way a lion’s shoulders move.

I guess I’m sold?

 


3 Comments »

  1. summerh@uoregon.edu says:

    Yes! I love that moment too! It brings me to tears. It reminds me a lot of this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvCjyWp3rEk

    I think there is definitely something to be said for the intimacy that the GoPro allows. It is so much less invasive than most other cameras, but still delivers really great quality footage.

  2. lpaters5@uoregon.edu says:

    And in terms of intimacy, I think it’s also a call to those of us going out in the field to start getting immensely creative and imaginative with our shots. It’s like Go Pro saying, “It’s waterproof, slobberproof, windproof, dirtproof – GET out there and get the shot! There is no excuse – look, this dude is hugging lions and hyenas!” If we can stick this camera on a predator’s back or on the side of an airplane, it’s really a moment to step back and realize that the future of multimedia is about challenging ourselves and taking our productions to the limit.

  3. jarrattt@uoregon.edu says:

    I found the moment where we see the filmmakers in the cage one of the more intriguing parts of the piece. As a piece of video I just loved it. The intrepid explorers daring to get closer and closer… inside their heavy cage. It really disrupted the belief that these animals aren’t wild. We know the ease with which that one guy interacts with the lions and hyenas is special. You point this out so well when you mention that he has a privileged relationship with the animals. The moment with the cage brings us back to the reality that most of us experience.

    I can’t help but think of Grizzly Man while watching this. The character in that film also got close to wild animals in a way that most people couldn’t. Unfortunately he died because of the position he put himself in. This guy has a relationship with these lions and seems to know them very well, but how can he trust that they will never turn on him?

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