Award wins for David Attenborough’s Light on Earth

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Light on Earth Grand Helix

David Attenborough’s Light on Earth wins big at the Jackson Hole Science Media Awards

Awards season is upon us and David Attenborough’s Light on Earth (Life That Glows) has been nominated for awards at an international smorgasbord of festivals this year including the International Science Film Festival Athens, Wildlife Film Festival Rotterdam, Innsbruck Nature Film Festival, Jackson Hole Science Media Awards, Wildlife Vaasa International Nature Film Festival, Wildscreen, and Pariscience Film Festival.

The competition this year has been really strong across all the festivals and we were extremely proud to win best of festival, the Grand Helix, at Jackson Hole Science Media Awards. This award goes to “the single film or media project that best exemplifies excellence in the art of inspired scientific storytelling.”

The film has also won the science award at Wildlife Vaasa International Nature Film Festival. We’re all looking forward to the selections at the upcoming festivals!

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Bioluminescence – Images of life that glows

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Microscope image of bioluminescent dinoflagellates. Photo: Martin Dohrn Microscope image of bioluminescent dinoflagellates (Pyrocystus fusiformis). This image is taken with a beam splitter camera, where the bodies of the dinoflagellates are lit by infra red light so as not to disturb their bioluminescence. Photo: Martin Dohrn

David Attenborough with glowing millipede. Photo: Martin Dohrn David Attenborough holds a Motyxia millipede. The reason behind its bioluminescence is thought to be to deter predators. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Cardinal fish eats and rejects glowing ostracod Cardinal fish spits out ostracod after it releases bioluminescent flash-bomb. This image is taken with a beam-splitter camera, where the fish is lit with invisible infra red light. Photo: Martin Dohrn

David Attenborough stands with a "firefly fishing rod" in Pennsylvania. David Attenborough stands with a “firefly fishing rod” in Pennsylvania. The fishing rod was invented by firefly scientist Jim Lloyd to decipher the bioluminescent language of fireflies. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Glow worms in caves in Tasmania These glow worms are in fact the larvae of a predatory species of gnat, living in caves in Tasmania. Their bioluminescent glow draws insects to a trap of sticky threads hanging from the roof of the cave. Photo: Fraser Johnston

Dinoflagellate bloom, Tasmania, Australia. Dinoflagellate bloom, Tasmania Australia. These algal blooms are often known as ‘red tides’, because of the way the colour the sea water in daylight. At night, the bioluminescent dinoflagellates create a pure blue light whenever they are disturbed. Photo: Fraser Johnston

Bioluminescent pyrosomes. Photo: Martin Dohrn Bioluminescent colonies of colonial Pyrosomes. Their bioluminescence of each individual in the colony can be triggered by touch, or light, so that colonies near each other can light up together. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Glowing fungi (Panellus sp.) Some species of Panellus mushroom are bioluminescent along the edges of the gills. Nobody knows why. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Luminous earthworm from the Loire Valley of France Bioluminescent earthworm from the Loire Valley of France. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Bioluminescent flashlight fish Bioluminescent flashlight fish. The bioluminescence is created by captive colonies of bacteria in special organs under the eyes of the fish. This image is taken with a beam splitter camera, where the bodies of the fish are lit by infra red light so as not to disturb their behaviour. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Firefly squid. Photo: Martin Dohrn Firefly squid (Watasenia scintillans) have photophores covering their bodies and bright clumps on the ends of their arms. The photophores used to countershade the silhouette of the squid so that it can’t be seen from below. To account for the different colour of light at different depths, some of the photophores are green. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Glowing firefly Fireflies use bioluminescence to attract mates, their signals are specific to individual species. This species is Photuris pyralis from the eastern United States. Photo: Martin Dohrn

Dragonfish bioluminescence. Photo: Martin Dohrn The dragonfish (Idiacanthus antrostomus) has lines of bioluminescent photophores along its ventral side which it is thought are used mostly for defence. Photo: Martin Dohrn

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David Attenborough’s Light on Earth (Life That Glows)

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David Attenborough fireflies

Our most recent production, David Attenborough’s Light on Earth (the BBC title is Attenborough’s Life that Glows) is a film entirely about bioluminescence – light made by living things.

After a long gestation at Ammonite, the film was fully funded by Terra Mater Factual Studios of Austria. It was first shown in Germany and Austria on 27th April 2016 and in the UK on BBC2 on May 9th 2016. In United States it will be found on CuriosityStream.

Written by Martin Dohrn, Joe Loncraine, Paul Reddish
Produced by Martin Dohrn and Joe Loncraine
Directed by Joe Loncraine
Photographed by Martin Dohrn, Jack Hynes and Fraser Johnston
Edited by Rama Bowley
Music by Fraser Purdie
Executive Producers for Terra Mater Sabine Holzer and Ivo Filatsch

David Attenborough takes us on an extraordinary tour through one of the least understood of all natural phenomena; bioluminescence. Most people regard light made by living things as a pretty scientific curiosity, but new technology allows us to record living light with unprecedented detail. This film reveals the true scale of bioluminescence; it is everywhere, in the deep ocean, shallow reefs, soil, plains and forests, and for a few nights each year in special places, in the air.

We now know bioluminescence has evolved on at least 50 separate occasions and can be found in many thousands of different species with almost every group of organism. The numerous ways living light is used are still being counted, but for many life forms, the reasons behind light making remain a complete mystery.

Whatever the causes, bioluminescence is certainly one of the most spectacular of all natural phenomena, but until now has been hidden from view to most of us. This spectacular reveals a world few even knew existed – a whole new planet we didn’t know we had.

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Manas: Return of the Giants wins at International Elephant Film Festival

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Young Indian one-horned rhino
Manas National Park was destroyed by a two-decade war, resulting in an almost complete loss of wildlife. With the help of scientists and armed rangers the animals are slowly returning, but Manas needs all of the giants back if it has any chance of recovering its former glory.

We are very proud that our second film Manas: Return of the Giants, produced with Kosmik Global, has won the prize for best Asian elephant film at the International Elephant Film Festival at the UN Headquarters in New York.

In 2005, India’s Bodo rebellion ended after nearly two decades of strife. While the human casualties were being counted, the resulting loss of animal life in Manas National Park appeared absolute.

This was a catastrophe for science and the natural world. Manas wasn’t just any national park; it was a World Heritage Site, recognised as an important centre of biodiversity – containing many species that are either extinct elsewhere or declining rapidly.

However, in 2010, a camera trap project revealed something extraordinary was happening. Manas’ wildlife was returning.

With specially granted access to Manas, day or night, we had a unique opportunity to record these extraordinary events in a new way. Still wary of humans, most of the animals only become truly relaxed at night. This is when we encounter tigers, black panthers, herds of buffalo and elephants living almost as they had always done.

Despite most of the poachers leaving Manas, at night an element of danger still exists. The elephants haven’t forgotten their recent history, smashing camera traps, charging vehicles, and besieging observation towers they pose a real threat to locals who have disrupted their ancient migration paths.

The story reveals a new threat to the future of Manas, a tree threatening to take over its grasslands. Can the future of Manas be secured? Perhaps with the complete return of all of Manas’ endangered giant animals: the wild water buffalo, the gaur, the one horned rhino and the Asian elephant, Manas will once again return to its former glory.

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David Attenborough’s Light on Earth commissioned

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Ammonite and Terra Mater Factual Studios in Vienna are excited to announce their latest project “David Attenborough’s Light on Earth”. The programme will be broadcast on BBC Two as “Attenborough’s Life That Glows”.

Even in some of the darkest of places on Earth there is light. For millions of years creatures capable of producing their own light have illuminated the natural world – a phenomenon, known as Bioluminescence.

Sir David Attenborough takes us on a journey of adventure and discovery through forests to oceans and into an amazing microscopic world.

Contrary to popular perception, bioluminescence is not as uncommon as it may first appear. These luminous displays of “living light” have bewitched and beguiled countless generations, capturing our imagination, and inspiring fables and folklore of “descended stars”, “souls of the dead” and tales of “burning seas”.

A tool used for communication, this language of light is only now being decoded, and its meaning better understood. Deep within the oceans, where sunlight fails to penetrate, bioluminescence lights the way. From jellyfish to sharks, endless species flash, pulse and glow as a means of survival.

On land, fireflies light the night sky in search of a mate – but some have deadly intentions. Venture underground, and the soil writhes and wriggles with luminous earthworms.

While we have come to understand the science behind the light, exactly why some of these species glow at all remains a mystery.

Bursting with breathtaking spectacles, fascinating behaviour and unprecedented imagery, David Attenborough’s Light on Earth will show you the world in a whole new light…

Find out more:

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India’s Wandering Lions delivered

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India's Wandering Lions title screen

Lions. Not African, but Indian.
After a brush with extinction the Asiatic lion is reclaiming its lost lands.
But can lions and people truly settle their differences and live together… Without conflict?

We are very proud to announce that we have completed our most recent film  India’s Wandering Lions . It’s been a labour of love to deliver some unique images of the miraculous growing population of Asiatic lions in India’s Gujarat state.

A thousand years ago, lions were common in many regions across Asia, but were frequently viewed as vermin – to be killed whenever possible. Today, the Indian lion population has rebounded to a population of over 400 – a cause for celebration. However, their success has surpassed the natural capacity of the Gir Forest Sanctuary, forcing lions to spill over its borders and seek new homes. Can they remain out of trouble and keep their human neighbours onside for the long term?

We have worked with Kosmik Global, Earth Touch and Discovery India to bring this incredible story to light. With unprecedented access by locals and the various forest departments, we have uncovered one of the most extraordinary stories of recovery of our generation. Our 4K cameras bring a beautiful richness and clarity to the imagery, while colour starlight and hi-res thermal techniques allow us to create striking images, day or night.

International air dates to be announced soon!

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Editing Begins on the First Part of Our New Series

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Editing has begun on the first part of our spectacular new series, “India’s New Worlds”, a three-part documentary showcasing extraordinary behaviour across the Indian subcontinent. The series, in partnership with Kosmik Global, will reveal fascinating tales of the last lions of Asia, a return from oblivion for a once diverse region, and we will explore an unknown wildlife paradise.

Andy Chastney in for the edit

We are pleased that Andrew Chastney (Nightstalkers, Life, Planet Earth, Frozen Planet) is working with us again as editor. He now has the mammoth task of pulling together footage shot over the past six months into the timeline to tell our story. We’ll keep him constantly supplied with coffee and treats from Hart’s Bakery to fuel him through the exciting eight-week edit.

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Frankencam on Display at National Media Museum

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Martin operating Frank

The legendary Frankencam is currently on display at the National Media Museum in Bradford. Selected as an innovative piece of wildlife filming equipment, “Frank” is part of the Nature Camera Action! exhibit for the next couple of months.

Frank was created to enable us to film small creatures up close with a three-axis control system. That means we could film life in ways never before seen, following insects a hairsbreadth from the ground or manoeuvring the camera in and around the undergrowth all with highly precise and vibration-free movement.

Watch Martin explain what Frank is and how it works in this video on National Geographic.

“Nature Camera Action!  – The Secrets of Making Incredible Wildlife Films” is on from 18 July – 12 October 2014 at the National Media Museum, Bradford.

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Sigur Rós Film Wins London Short Film Festival

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A film with key sequences shot by Ammonite has won top prize at London Film Festival.

The Film was directed by Nick Abrahams and has won British Council Best UK Short at the London Short Film Festival. It is an affecting  story of a man trying to find his way home, befriending a wounded fox and being encouraged by a talking snail , it is part of the Sigur Rós Valtari mystery film experiment.

Ammonite shot all the natural history content of this film; the talking snail was filmed at our Bristol studios and also on location in Buckinghamshire using Frankencam, Ammonite’s unique motion-control system developed especially to film small creatures.

The decaying process of a dead fox was also shot in our custom-designed dark room over a period of several months.

The Sigur Rós film used only the first two months of the decaying process, Ammonite continued to film the fox as beetles moved in finally revealing the animal’s clean skeleton. This footage is now part of Ammonite’s extensive footage library and available to hire

This is the winning film

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Ammonite Presents … The Starlet

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We have finally completed the beautiful Starlet, the world’s first fully portable, variable frame-rate (including 23.97, 25 & 29.97 fps) Starlight Camcorder. It records uncompressed HD video directly to an internal hard drive.

And it’s available to hire

This is the easiest to use and most ergonomic starlight camera to date from Ammonite, the creators of image intensified Starlight camera technology.

Ammonite’s Starlight cameras are all based around a high resolution and extremely sensitive image intensifier coupled directly to a full resolution HD chip. They are capable of filming in real time in starlight, moonlight and are very sensitive to infra-red light.

link to full details on the Starlet Camera

for more information

phone: +44 (0)117 927 9778

or email us


Ammonite Starlet Camera

Super lightweight starlight camera







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