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Night moves: Series explores nocturnal animals around the globe

A lion is filmed as part of the series, “Earth at Night in Color.” (Courtesy of Apple TV+)

Alex Williamson wanted to up the ante when it comes to nature series.

That’s why Williamson signed on for the Apple TV+ show “Earth at Night in Color.”

“In many of the nature series, the sequences can feel dated,” he says. “This series felt fresh because you are seeing things differently. We are introducing the audience to the natural world in a different way.”

The first six episodes of the 12-part series began streaming on Dec. 4. The second half will follow in 2021.

“Earth at Night In Color” is produced by the BAFTA-nominated Offspring Films, and executive producers are Williamson and Isla Robertson.

The production uses cutting-edge cameras and a revolutionary editing process to present nature’s previously unseen marvels with striking new clarity.

Captured across six continents, from the Arctic Circle to the African grasslands, the work follows the moonlit lives of animals at night, revealing new insights and never-before-seen behaviors into some of our favorite species’ nocturnal habits. The show will also introduce relatively unknown creatures that are sure to become new icons of the animal kingdom.

Executive producer Alex Williamson . (Courtesy of Neil Phillips)

Williamson says the ambition was to film animals at night, but in color.

Crews often found themselves in total darkness.

“We literally were taking a shot in the dark,” he says. “We had to trust each other, because we were going out in the wild and were a guest in their habitat.”

Williamson and his crews across the world worked together to film by moonlight.

“We found that filming six days before and after a full moon was the way to go with the cameras,” he says. “We also had to find the animals that we would follow. They were much more skittish because they aren’t used to seeing humans after dark. In Brazil, as other boats were coming in for the night, we were heading out for the night shift.”

Williamson has spent more than 20 years building a reputation for delivering stunning series that capture the world in fresh, innovative ways. He has worked for production companies in Los Angles, London and Bristol delivering a range of genres from natural history to fact entertainment formats; specialist factual shows and observational documentaries.

“This is the hardest project that I’ve ever worked on,” he says. “I always knew there was a beautiful project for the taking. Everyone has done a night series. With this series, we’ve seen the animals show their true colors.”

As crews began to film cheetahs, Williamson found out new things.

“Cheetahs are known as day hunters and use their speed,” he says. “We were filming a lion pride, and they were doing nothing. We started to follow the cheetahs, and they were hunting by moonlight. They are amazingly successful predators at night. Then the lions would come in and steal their catches. It’s a twisted view on what we knew about them.”

Williamson says that in Australia, the filmmakers found nocturnal kangaroos that stay in a group of 500.

“It’s so they can keep an eye on the dingos,” he says. “It’s amazing to see.”

When it came to finding a narrator for the series, the production turned to actor Tom Hiddleston.

“We were trying to keep it family-friendly,” he says. “Tom has that fireside voice, and he is able to dial up the emotion of the animals. Tom does everything from theater to Marvel movies. He owns each character and really does a brilliant job on the series.”

The first six episodes of “Earth at Night in Color” are streaming on Apple TV+. The second half of the series will air in 2021.

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