For the final installment in a three-part series of videos about the technology that makes “Planet Earth II” possible, Vox takes a look at the acclaimed docuseries’ nighttime photography. After first comparing footage of the black sicklebill — a bird known for a strange courtship dance males engage in at dawn — captured in 1996 and 2015, the seven-minute video goes back to the ’70s and ’80s, when shooting footage at night was considerably more difficult than it is now.
The reasons why are fairly simple: Nocturnal animals were bothered by the artificial light necessary to record them with any degree of clarity, and existing technology didn’t allow for more covert methods. Infrared cameras had gone a long way toward solving that problem when “Planet Earth” first came around; now, a combination of infrared, high-resolution and slow-motion technology has further improved the quality of footage the folks at BBC are able to record.
Thermal cameras , first developed for military use, have allowed for even more striking images. Watch the video below.