If you’ve been following along with the BBC’s Natural History Unit, most notably for the Blue Planet II and Planet Earth II documentaries, one of your token reactions probably was, “How in the hell did they film that?” Well, in the case of the unit’s newest documentary, Big Cats, sometimes the crew uses little remote-controlled buggies that zoom across the land to catch up with cheetahs running. It’s very cool.
In order to capture high-definition footage of the big cats sprinting across the Namibian desert, the BBC hired wildlife cameraman Rob Drewett and buggy operator Andy Nancollis and something they invented: A remote-controlled buggy that would drive alongside the animal whilst filming it. The buggy had a stabilized NEWTON camera head that could be maneuvered and controlled from a separate console.
The buggy is called the Freestyle Mantis and has a top speed of 30 mph, though cheetahs admittedly can run much faster than that. Yet, armed with a Phantom Flex 4K camera, the crew was still able to get some beautiful, slow-motion tracking shots of the running animals. The camera head softened the vibrations from the desert terrain, while also simultaneously keeping the horizon level. The buggy itself has suspended rubber wheels, which are also useful for absorbing shock.
The cheetahs don’t seem particularly alarmed by the little buggy. Probably because it’s so much smaller than they are.
The result? Take a look for yourself here.