Thursday, October 28, 2010

Diaries will be back

Hi Folks
I have had a few questions lately asking when the Safari TV diaries will be back. It's good to know that so many of you enjoy the diaries and I can tell you that they are something we haven't forgotten. Our plan is to return to producing at least one diary per week very soon and then ramp back up to one per day thereafter. The reason we suspended production of the daily diary was as simple as not having the editors available to produce a daily diary when a number of new clients came along who require post produced content and that work is keeping Herman's team busy. We'd love to increase our editing staff but as you know we are severely limited by the accommodation available at the moment in Djuma, but again we have a plan to improve that situation.
We were producing and distributing the diaries as a free service and hope to resume that free service very soon, but it does eat into the editing resources we have available on site (a three minute diary takes an editor 12 hours to produce) and our editors need to focus elsewhere for the moment.
From my prospective and knowing how much we needed to invest in terms of equipment and man hours it is good to know that the diaries were so well received, I'll pass the compliments to Herman and Seb and let then know how much you all enjoy them.
Written by Will Fox

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Enjoy the ride

Together we have been on quite a journey this year. Starting in March (seems like a lifetime ago) we moved from the old SD broadcast, built and equipped a new FCC, then moved to HD and now we are the world’s first live 3D HD wildlife broadcast. It’s been quite a ride and I wanted to take time to thank you all for sticking with us through thick and (yes) thin, but the ride hasn’t stopped yet (hopefully it never will).

Next year we plan to have two new vehicles, one in Djuma and a second in another location within the Sabi Sand. Our aim is to improve your experience by providing more great sightings of wildlife both big and small.

As with any business, we need to grow and it’s pleasing to see that we have an ever increasing TV audience, but rest assured that we intend to maintain our open approach and the interactive element as we go forward. Whether it is new vehicles or equipment, our core aim is to improve your wildlife experience. As ever we rely on your help with wildlife questions, suggestions etc. Of-course as our audience grows we won’t always be able to answer every question as there are just too many, but we’ll do our best to answer as many as we can, so keep them coming. On the subject of questions, I have a plea from the directors.... Folks, please send all of your questions by email to final control, I know that 99% of you do, but the directors worry that they could miss questions that are asked in the chat rooms. Indeed the directors will not be monitoring the chat rooms during drives in the future, so please please email your questions. Our promise is that the director will read them all.

Thank you all for joining us on the journey so far, I hope you’ve had some great times along the way. We have a long way to go and I hope that you will all join us on the rest of the journey.

Written by Will Fox

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's all go at Gowrie!

Hi everyone!

With the weather changing from day to day, it is bound to have an effect on the animals as well as us humans! We have had a lot of activity around the dam this week, especially with the hot afternoon temperatures. Four or 5 large gentlemen have been visiting Gowrie dam which, if you have managed to see them, has been such a wonderful sight to see! These old bull elephants certainly seem to enjoy bathing, wrestling with each other and wallowing in the cooling water, almost as if they were calves again! I was asked on drive this week if animals have fun? Believe me, if you were lucky enough to have watched these bulls, there is no way you can deny, they do!

Marc, Patrick and myself have all enjoyed spending time with the very relaxed breeding herd of elephants with many youngsters and the individual with a missing tail. Suzanne was bouncing after the close encounter she shared with Marc and everyone! They were surrounded and accepted as the herd were busy feeding within a few metres of the vehicle! It is such a magical experience to be in the presence of such gentle and majestic creatures while they go about their buisness!

During the day the elephant herd has been joining the resident dagga boys and all the usual suspects for refreshments and it is a wonder there is still water left.
The action has continued even as the heat subsided after dark has fallen. For a couple of nights we have also been lucky enough to see an African Wild Cat drinking at the dam around 19.00, so maybe tonight will be 3rd time lucky?

Induna also made an appearance on Thursday, walking next to the camera and then on to the wall, for a short rest and a grooming session before moving on. From the lack of tracks found on the reserve, I have a feeling the boys have been in the drainage line all week! Karula being the only leopard found on drive. Patrick spoted her lying on a termite mound and then hunting a duiker! I can't wait for December to see if she has cubs!

Written by Tara Pirie

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Just like buses

No blogs from me for two weeks and then two in succession. Just like buses as they say.

Anyway, I have a couple of minutes between meetings so I figured I would use the time to tell you more about our future plans.

First I think it is worth my mentioning that I listen and take note of all of your comments, good and bad. They provide some great feedback which is one of the key elements in our designing new systems and expanding Safari TV. It’s an easy statement to write but nonetheless very true.

We are now the world’s leading 3d live wildlife content provider. Our current 3d system is a prototype and has its faults, but even taking that into account it is an exceptional set up, producing amazing 3d content as well as 2d. Of-course there have been bugs in the system, which are to be expected with any prototype, but we do have some very clever folks working behind the scenes and working through the bugs very quickly. Whether it be stereographers, camera experts, control software specialists or whatever, we have gathered together a great design team. The others are wondering how we do it, but that’s our secret.

So to the future. Well that simple...we’re designing two brand new vehicles that will operate in two locations in Sabi Sand. One at home in Djuma, and the other in second location. Both will be controlled by a director in Final Control who will switch from vehicle to vehicle dependant on sightings. I did hear the comments on this previously and we will not only focus on the ‘big and furry’, but all wildlife.

When? Well we’re just completing the design stage and then we need to build and so it isn’t likely to be this year, but it will be as soon as we can.

And why? Well that is easy. We want you to have the best interactive wildlife experience we can produce.

Written by Will Fox

Not the X factor, but the answer is........

As you know we’ve been rather busy with all the problems we have had at Djuma and on top of that I am finalising the design for our new vehicles and systems (more of that in another blog), so it has taken some time to get back to you with the results of the presenter try outs.

Firstly, my thanks to all the candidates. I thought they all did very well. It isn’t easy to present a live show, so well done to them all.

I must also thank everyone who sent in comments; I read them all with interest. In actual fact this created a problem for me as no one candidate came out as your favourite, which showed me they were all of a similar standard. Of-course there are many other factors we need to consider when employing a person in South Africa, many of which come under the heading of personal information, so I won’t go into details, save to say that it is not easy.

And the result is......... If this were a reality show on TV, this would be the point where there would be an agonising gap while annoying music created artificial tension. Sorry we don’t do that thing. The answer is ....... well actually there isn’t one.

All of the tryouts were exceptional guides, who I would recommend to any five star lodge, but we are looking for something more. We want our presenters to have the X factor we hear so much about. If you’re anything like me, you wonder what the heck that means. Well, by definition it is something that cannot be defined, but you know it when you see it.

Taking your comments and all the other input, we haven’t found it yet. So we’ll keep looking and I’ll let you know when we have more news.

Written by Will Fox

Monday, October 11, 2010

News from the bush

October 12th

After an exceptionally hot day yesterday, perhaps one of the hottest on record, the first thunderheads of the season mushroomed on the horizon from mid-afternoon, building up to a dark mass of cloud that rolled in from the West. WE were all excited and charged as lightning lit up the evening sky shortly after sunset and thunder rolled in the distance. It seemed the storms raged all around us yet we were blessed with but a few drops of rain.

Conditions were perfect for the onset of fires with a tinder dry bushveld and all it took was a well placed strike of lightning for fires to flare. After dinner, Suzanne and I went out on to the open area near camp to see how close the fires were, their presence indicated by the orange glow of the low cloud hanging over the Sabi Sand. Several fires raged, two in the South, one outside the reserve in the North and another to the Northwest beyond the village of Dixie.

I will find out later today what happened to the fires within the reserve.

On another tack, a short note to update everyone on the presenter try-outs we have been having:

On Thursday, 14th October, WE will be watching the fourth in this group of presenter try-outs as Riaan takes the morning drive. Riaan is a local South African and will be coming from an area known as the Waterberg, a range of mountains in the northern part of the country in the Limpopo province. The area is known for its rugged mountain ranges and deep valleys as well as world class conservation areas.

Still on the subject of drives, I will be presenting to a school on Tuesday afternoon for the last hour of the drive and will be looking at animal habitats and homes as well as ‘animal moms and dads’ for a class of first graders at Brush College School in Decatur, Illinois. I am looking forward to being able to find some great examples of these subjects and answering questions from the kids.

To end this blog, here is a photo of the young Styx male whilst we sat with him at Buffelshoek dam yesterday. I believe he has been quite successful at his own hunts, bringing down a Kudu cow recently in another part of the Styx’s range. I think he was being a bit optomistic drooling over the herd of buffalo at the dam.

Written by Marc

Saturday, October 9, 2010

We got there in the end

Folks, I have pleasure in formally announcing that we have a new TV Producer (Craig Carnaby) who has joined us to lead the team at Djuma. I figure most of you will have heard this news by now but I thought you may like a little back ground information on Craig.

Craig grew up with a passion for wildlife with many of his younger years spent in the African bush, so it was no time after graduating that he found himself with his first guiding position. Through the years as Craig grew and qualified into an experienced guide, he naturally progressed into management rolls helping to develop others in the lodge and wildlife industry.

The Sabi Sands is familiar territory to Craig, and whether working or relaxing Craig always has his camera with him, he loves to photograph all aspects of wildlife with many of his pictures being published over the years. After spending so much time observing and interacting with the bush he has gained a deep understanding of this intricate environment, always pushing his own boundaries to learn more, and never being disappointed with what nature has to teach us.

Craig will be appearing on tomorrows FSC with Marc. I sat listening to the pair discussing old friends within the guiding industry the other night and they were reminiscing about some great characters, so I hope you can persuade them to repeat some of those stories over the next weeks. I hope you will all join me in welcoming Craig to the fold. I know everyone in the crew is excited to have a guy of Craigs quality on the team, especially Marc who has been asking me to get a new Producer for months. Its taken a while to get the right guy, but we got there in the end.

Written by Will Fox

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Behind the camera

WE are happy to introduce a new member of the team who has joined Safari TV on a ten week volunteer program, one who has already made her presence known and felt as she adeptly manoeuvred the big 3D camera rig on Tara’s AM safari and again on Patricks PM safari, spending some very special moments with Mixo up a tree on an impala kill.

Suzanne has always had passion for nature, photography and storytelling – she grew up on a farm in the Netherlands amongst horses, chickens and geese. After travelling for a bit, Suzanne went to study Biology at Sussex University in England. Here she focussed on animal behaviour studying the social interactions of the Yellow Mongoose for three months in South Africa. She then moved to Australia to study Media.

After several years of doing other things, Suzanne realised she wanted to get back to her roots and passions, enrolling in The Wildlife Film Academy and hasn’t looked back since. Soon afterwards she met Emily & Graham, learning about the Wild Earth concept and was immediately enthused by their vision for live wildlife broadcasting . Having spent some time watching it online while working for a documentary company in Amsterdam, Suzanne felt she would like to volunteer and learn more.

I love discovering all the different animal stories” she says and feels privileged to be the eyes of the viewers, hoping to do well.

The team have welcomed Suzanne and we will be helping her through the hurdles of learning 3D filming for