BBC Eagle Documentary Shot With 360 Camera Mounted on an Eagle

5 min read

What do you get when you combine a robotic hare, an eagle and a 360 camera? An epic attack shot like no other. 

This shot of a golden eagle’s hunting technique was filmed by the team at BBC’s Natural History Unit for their documentary, “Super Powered Eagles.” They mounted an Insta360 ONE X onto the eagle’s back and onto a specially designed robotic hare for some never before seen shots of this majestic bird in action. 

We sat down with one of the producers of this eagle documentary to learn how they pulled off this amazing shot. Read on to learn more about his insights on mounting a 360 camera on an animal to film unique wildlife footage.

1. Could you briefly introduce yourself and your role at BBC?

My name is Simon Baxter and I’m one of the producers at the BBC’s Natural History Unit. I’m involved in making many different wildlife documentaries in various formats, from TV and giant screen to online and VR.

2. Where did the idea for an eagle documentary come from?

Eagles have this mesmerizing blend of power and beauty that’s intoxicating, but their life at the top of the food chain is not as easy as you might expect. 

We wanted to reveal what it takes to be the most powerful bird in the sky. To do that, we followed a pair of bald eagles as they tried to raise a family. We also put a trained golden eagle through a series of carefully designed tests in different conditions, like strong winds and bright sunlight. What we ended up capturing was a surprise to us all.

BBC eagle documentary

3. Why did you decide to mount a 360 camera on the eagle? 

We decided put a 360 camera on an eagle because we wanted to see what their wings do during flight. We really needed to see what both wings were doing at the same time, in the same shot, and the best way of achieving that was with a 360 camera.  

We really needed to see what both wings were doing at the same time, in the same shot, and the best way of achieving that was with a 360 camera.  

The main reason we chose the Insta360 ONE X for this eagle documentary over any other 360 camera was that it was quite aerodynamic, which was important for the eagle. The camera was also pretty straightforward and easy to use in the field.

4. How did you manage to mount the ONE X on the eagle? 

We mounted the camera on the back of the eagle using a very carefully designed harness, and it took months of careful training to get the bird comfortable with it. 

On the back of the harness, our team 3D printed a special mount that the camera could sit in. It was crucial that the camera was fitted securely so the footage was stable. But we also wanted to make sure the camera could come out easily if the eagle wanted to get rid of it.

For another shot, we also mounted the camera on a specially-designed robotic hare that our trained golden eagle could hunt. With the camera, we could see how the eagle kept her eyes locked on the target’s position before attacking and then moved her talons forward right before contact.

BBC eagle documentary

See the world from a bird’s eye view with their footage captured with the ONE X mounted on the eagle’s back. 

5. What sort of feedback have you gotten on the documentary since it aired? 

We’ve had lots of brilliant feedback so far. Considering the world is going through a pretty tough time right now with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s nice to be able to make a few people smile and remind everyone how remarkable the natural world is. 

6. Why do you think 360 cameras are a good tool for telling wildlife stories?

If used correctly, 360 cameras can give us a remarkable insight into many wildlife events. When animals try to find food, a mate, or even move from one location to another, it can lead to some chaotic behavior on many different scales. In some situations, the action happens all around us, and then the only way to capture that detail is with a 360 camera

UK viewers can watch the full “Super Powered Eagles” documentary now on the BBC’s online iPlayer

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