Raytec IR captures dam building beavers

Ashington, Northumberland

Raytec’s Vario2 IR illuminators have been used to capture the antics of a pair of beavers who are helping to reduce the risk of flooding using their dam-building skills. Achieving exceptional images, the footage has since been used for BBC’s ‘The One Show’ (which will be aired in early 2020).

Freelance producer, Wildlife on Film, work closely with wildlife trusts, environmental agencies and the BBC to provide effective wildlife footage for documentaries and educational content.

The aim of this particular project involved monitoring beavers to study how they can help with flood management. The project consisted of approximately 18 months of filming, with constant monitoring of the beaver’s progress throughout.

The goal was to achieve exceptional images of the beavers in their natural habitat, and with filming often taking place at night, high-quality illumination would be essential. The client was also restricted by illuminator size – using a custom-made, portable frame, the client was restricted by the size of the illuminator they could use. They needed an illuminator which would be small enough to mount within the limits of the frame, but also powerful enough to generate the best possible images of the beavers building their dams.

Non-invasive lighting was an additional challenge for the client – visible White-Light would be likely to disturb the beavers, so the client needed a high-quality Infra-red solution that could enable the camera to see during the night and allow the beavers to behave naturally in their habitat.

After coming to Raytec for support, Wildlife on Film found a solution using two VAR2-i2-1 infrared illuminators; the smallest and most compact variant within the Vario2 range. Both illuminators were mounted to the custom frame, sitting above the camera (see right), which meant the field of view could be illuminated wherever the camera was pointed. 

Another feature of the illuminators which was to prove invaluable was Vario2’s interchangeable lens, available on all variants as standard. This allowed the client to modify the beam angle of the illuminators to best suit each scenario.

The compact size of the Vario2-i2-1 units were ideal for mounting to the custom frame and was essential to the success of the project. Owner of Wildlife on Film, Russel Savoury, commented, “I have been looking for suitable IR lights for some time. Having found Raytec, it’s been a game changer for me. The compact size of the lights has enabled me to make a very handy, portable rig”.

Despite their small size, the illuminators still had the power to deliver effective images with an even distribution of light across the target area. This allowed every element of the beavers’ activities to be monitored in close detail.

In fact, the quality of the images was so good that the footage was selected for use on national television. Russel continued, “The images I’ve been able to obtain using the Raytec illuminators are outstanding and, as a result, has led to the footage being shown on the BBC. Looking forward, I’ll be using the kit on other, up and coming projects too.”


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