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Exciting New Initiative to Inspire a New Generation of Wildlife Filmmakers

December 2007 saw six students from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) School of Art, Design & Media (ADM), venture into the Tibetan region of Yunnan - China, on an exciting & ground-breaking expedition to make two conservation films - on the black necked crane, & the Tibetan mastiff.

This event, funded by Canon Singapore, was organised in association with Wildlife Asia & NTU. The films were on two projects run by the China Exploration & Research Society (CERS), whose President is Wong How Man, Patron of Wildlife Asia. Both crane & mastiff are highly endangered & the issues affecting them quite complex - thus allowing the students great scope to make compelling films. The finished films are to be used for educational purposes by CERS. Wildlife Asia’s Executive Director Chris Dickinson led the expedition, contributing his knowledge & enthusiasm to the learning experience.

The student teams comprised: Mastiff Team - Ellen Tay, Felice Tang, Danny Lim; Crane Team - Boo Xinying, Joseph Peng & Kenny Tan, with NTU Asst. Prof. Scott Hessels & lecturer Jan-Christoph Daniel.

pics: top: black necked cranes at Napahai, Shangri-la, top right: Tibetan mastiff, above right: The crane film crew, right: Tibetan vultures
Prof Isaac Kerlow, Founding Dean of the School of ADM, said:
“NTU’s School of ADM is proud to be chosen by Canon Singapore to create films that will raise public support & awareness of How Man’s conservation efforts. In a time when environmental issues are very crucial, the students will have rare access to one of the most remote & visually stunning projects on the planet.”
Not only were the students able to provide a service to CERS by filming two of their projects, but the expedition also provided them with an extraordinary & unique learning experience that: pushed them out of their comfort zones; allowed them to embrace new working methods & gave them a real taste of the demanding reality of documentary film production.
pics: left top: the Mastiff team, left middle: Chile the Mastiff, left bottom: the crew interviewing Wong How Man, above: filming in the wild!
Throughout the ten-day shoot, the students filmed with Canon XL-H1 HDV cameras, which were accompanied by a range of excellent Canon HD & EF zoom & telephoto lenses, enabling them to get the all-important close-ups!

Canon seeks to preserve the natural environment with a host of environmentally friendly research & manufacturing policies, which reduce waste & preserve the environment. The filmmaking expedition, organized by Canon’s Johnny Ng & funded entirely by Canon Singapore, expands on that philosophy by using Canon cameras to make films that will help advance conservation issues & introduce the next generation of Singaporean filmmakers to the possibilities of digital cinema.
pics: above: cranes in flight, right above: prayer flags over a mountain pass, right: our crew attracts attention from the locals
The students admitted that this was the hardest project they had done! A long day of shooting was often followed by more work at night, with production meetings and esential viewing rushes on Final Cut Pro running on their Apple MacBook Pro’s. This enabled the students an excellent opportunity to assess the day’s shoot & plan for the following day.

All-in-all the filming expedition was a great success - and despite the gruelling schedule and tough conditions the students are already asking about further filming opportunities! The students will spend the next couple of months editing the films, with premiere screenings pencilled in for March.
pics: left above: the Canon XLH1 in action with 70-200mm EF lens, left: the team viewing rushes on MacBook and Final Cut Pro
A central tenet of Wildlife Asia’s mission is to inspire new Asian conservation & environmental filmmakers, & we couldn’t have asked for a better start to what will be an ongoing commitment to motivate a new breed of filmmakers in Singapore & beyond. And of course we have to thank Johnny Ng & Canon Singapore for showing the vision and commitment to make this all possible!
Thanks also to Wong How Man & the superb staff at CERS for making us so welcome, & for providing such great logistic support. And a very well done to the students of NTU for doing such a great job.
Stay tuned for more-such projects in the future!

pics: above group photo: From left: Danny, Joseph, Ellen, Felice, Boo, Johnny, Scott, Chris, Jan, Kenny. Above right - Channel News Asia interviewing Chris Dickinson, and Boo Xinying.

This initiative has spawned an exciting new youth competition!
The competition, entitled ECOmmunicate, is a joint initiative of Wildlife Asia and Canon Singapore.

ECOmmunicate is a communication competition for budding filmmakers and photographers, which will see the winners sent on an expedition to another Asian country to shoot environmental and conservation stories.

MORE INFO SOON - in the meantime please enjoy this short promo featuring footage from the above expedition...

Photographs by Chris Dickinson - shot on the Canon 40D
(except the Channel News Asia photos - courtesy of Jan-Christoph Daniel)

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