How they filmed... The Jesus Christ Lizard (ep2)

A Jesus Christ lizard running on water is so fast that a human would have to run at 65 miles per hour to achieve the same trick. The speed makes it an enormous challenge to film. After consulting with a scientist at Harvard University who has made a ground-breaking study of the lizards water sprint, the crew decided that as well as filming the behaviour at normal frame rates they would attempt to capture the close up details of the lizards run with a slow-motion camera filming at 2000 frames per second (i.e. slowed down by 80 times).


Its very hard to predict exactly where and when a lizard will run, whats more its all so quick that once the lizard is spotted its gone in a blur. Learning from the scientists observation methods was essential and as a result it was decided to film the details of the sprint would need some degree of control to ensure that the crew had some idea of where and when the lizard would run. They travelled to Belize, home of the lizard, to work with local animal experts who had some lizards in natural forest enclosures. If, and when, these lizards decided to run, they always ran along the same stretch of water, where the cameraman could station his camera.


The key to success was using the latest digital slow-motion camera that continuously records into a memory buffer, so that when the cameraman hits the trigger button he downloads the action that took place a second or so before that moment. Whenever a lizard sprinted past the cameraman over the water the cameraman hit the trigger, desperately trying to keep the lizard in the frame and in focus. The final end result of this was stunning, slow motion shots of the lizards, with every drop of water visible as they sprinted through the surface.

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