sound on nature shows

How do people filming nature documentaries get all the sound in? Do they have such strong mikes that they can pick up the sound of a leopard’s paw pressing on the snow, or, as I heard claimed, do they use various sound effects (crushing broccoli was said to substitute the example given above), meaning they’re actually lying to us?

No doubt that at least early nature show and movies used foley artists to recreate the sounds. Heck, if Disney was willing to throw little lemmings to their deaths just to justify an urban legend…

But now that directional mikes are cheap enough to take along into the wilds, picking up the grass crunching beneath a cheetah’s paws is relatively easy.

I have heard countless times the same recording of loon calls played in the background of TV shows and movies (although, to be fair, not on nature shows). The calls were distinguishable because they all had the same order and call sequences as found on the original recording, which was made in Algonquin Park, Ontario in the 1950s or 60s. And I’ve heard this used in some of the most implausible settings: New York’s Central Park, the Mojave Desert! Loons are solitary, aquatic birds - they don’t like busy or dry places.

One of the most depressing things I saw in my life was a Nature episode on the making of Nature episodes.

Indeed, all the sounds are created by foley artists. They showed the guy adding all the sound with the standard bag of sound effects tricks. sigh. I felt violated.

Yep, all sound in nature documentaries is added. It’s particularly obvious in the slow motion sequences. When that eagle swoops down and snatches a fish from the river, the splash shouldn’t be so crisp and sharp - instead it’d be a slow groan.