Sudden Lost Footage Disease
This is another science documentary that I made for Point Reyes National Seashore back in 2009.
This documentary was the most difficult of the bunch. Its focus is not a charismatic mega-fauna like the Tule Elk or the Elephant Seal. It’s about a microscopic organism invisible to the naked eye. Yes, this presented some challenges. I recall thinking “how do I make dying trees interesting on video?” Well, I think that you’ll see how I answered that question with the video’s opening shot.
There were some technical difficulties on this project as well. One of our production days took place deep in the Park in a region decimated by the disease. It took all morning and all afternoon to drive in and out of this location. I brought along two SOD specialists to interview in and amongst the dead trees. Because of their busy schedules I only had one shot at this dual interview. To my relief, everything seemed to go splendidly on the shoot. It was only on the next day when I looked at the footage that I realized that something had gone horribly wrong. The footage was all digital garbage. I had two hours of blinking pastel confetti on my video tape. I was only able to salvage a single shot: one of the specialists’ hands pointing to a severed tanoak tree trunk. Was it the temperature differential under the forest canopy that caused condensation on my mini-DV tape? Was it the receiver of the wireless lavalier microphones attached to the camera that caused radio interference? Was it sun spots? To this day I wonder why the footage was digitally garbled. I guess some mysteries will always remain unsolved…