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The making of Geheimnisvolle Pegnitzauen
(The Mysterious Pegnitz Wetlands)

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Georg Bock won an IAC Diamond and the Best Photography Award at BIAFF2016

Still from 'The Mysterious Pegnitz Wetlands'.

Patience and perseverance

I live in Pegnitz, in Upper Franconia, in the north of Bavaria, Germany. This is also where the river Pegnitz rises. The location for my film was the nature reserve called Pegnitzauen. It is 18 kilometers away from where I live, so I often cycled there. I shot film at irregular intervals over four years, collecting around 48 hours of footage.

To get good wildlife shots, you have to know when and where the animals pause. Around here word has spread that I make nature films, so I get a lot of useful advice from the staff of the Federal Nature Conservation, Forest Management, and so on.

Of course, patience and perseverance is important.

Still from 'The Mysterious Pegnitz Wetlands'.
Still from 'The Mysterious Pegnitz Wetlands'.
Still from 'The Mysterious Pegnitz Wetlands'.


My main camera is a Sony FX7 HD tape camera. The FX7 has a 20x zoom, plus a usable digital zoom. I even add to this a 2.2 teleconverter. The downside of the tape camera is that there is a noticeable delay between pressing the shutter button and recording the picture. Therefore I use the Atomos Ninja, a small hard disk recorder that plugs directly into the camera. It needs no lead time and records immediately. But the great advantage of the Ninja is that it records full HD material in 10 bit uncompressed form. This brings significant benefits, for example when applying colour correction, slow motion and so on in post-production.

No drone was used for this movie

I used some screenshots from the Bayern Atlas (similar to Google Earth). I animated these in my EDIUS editing system: the passing train (at left with red roof) was created using minus signs from the titler, the water surface was superimposed with the keyer tool and the clouds were layered on and so on.

The glide-rail and crane I built myself. The rail is power driven. The drive comes from a window blind and the battery from a cordless drill.

Still from 'The Mysterious Pegnitz Wetlands'.
Still from 'The Mysterious Pegnitz Wetlands'.
Still from 'The Mysterious Pegnitz Wetlands'.

In nature films there are always surprises

I had a rough idea of the shape of the movie in mind beforehand, but that changed again and again, because unexpected scenes were captured and planned shots did not materialise.

In nature films there are always surprises. Sometimes you only need a few more shots to tell the story properly but you just cannot get them into the camera. That means the sequence is not useful and you have to be flexible and switch to something new. But at other times you get shots, which you had never expected.

Good and bad luck are very close in nature filming.

Still  from 'The Mysterious Pegnitz Wetlands'.

The underwater scenes with the beaver were taken with a Sony Action Cam.

Although I twice had the Cam underwater for around an hour, the passing shot of a diving beaver was the only acceptable take.

I wanted to film the breeding period of kingfishers from a a camouflage tent.

If you want to set up a camouflage tent in a nature reserve, you need approval from the Nature Conservation Authority. It took two weeks until I got the permit. I put up the tent and let it stand for a few days so that my feathered characters could get used to it. Then massive rainfall arrived and the Pegnitz river flooded. The kingfishers' nesting site was swept away, their brood was drowned. The whole effort was in vain.

Post Production

It took me about a year of work in the editing room to process the sound and images. The "atmosphere" sounds and other noises almost all had to be  produced in retrospect, because when you are shooting using a long focal length, you cannot capture good original sound.

Much of the music was created by me with Magix Music Maker.

Thank you for the recognition of my film. I would like to send warm greetings to fellow film-makers in Britain.

- Georg Bock