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Wildlife Comes Into Focus with Angenieux

After featuring birds in Winged Migration (2001) and the underwater world in Oceans (2009), directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud chose, with Seasons, to stage a poetic 15,000-year chronicle of Europe’s history from the viewpoint of the wildlife that has settled there.

Cinematographer Eric Guichard, AFC, says of Seasons, “We needed light, compact and quickly interchangeable lenses. We also required rugged lenses able to withstand the filming conditions. We constantly had 10 zooms on location. The zooms were important because we knew we would not be able to achieve multiple takes when filming animals. We used Angenieux’s entire spherical Optimo range: 24-290mm, 28-340mm, 19.5-94mm, 45-120mm, 28-76mm and 15-40mm, plus several extenders.

Photo by Ludovic Sigaud/Galatée Films

“The idea was to work as close as possible to the animals,” continues Guichard, who worked with a team of nine cinematographers for the project. “Focal lenses were used to produce a naturalistic perspective intended to give the viewer a true sense of being immersed in nature—for example, we were very close to the buffalos and bears. Everything in the movie was designed to preserve the integrity of the animals and minimize any disruption to their normal behavior.

“The lens had to be at their height for each shot in order to have a close feeling of the animal on the screen. A small, remote-controlled crane with a removable head was the obvious choice. We could then work close to the animals without scaring them, and without damaging their surroundings.”