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SCOM 411: The Techniques of Natural History and Science Filmmaking I


This is a seminar-based paper that deals with the technical bits you need to know to make a documentary, like how to use a camera and what to do with the stuff it records.

But it goes much further than that too. Our extremely experienced teachers are all active filmmakers and they will take you through such processes as lighting, interview techniques, sound recording, use of hides for filming animals, macro work and just about everything else that can affect the technical quality of a film. The result is a guaranteed jump in the quality of your filmmaking skills and an awareness of the issues associated with filming wildlife.

The unique involvement of NHNZ in this course means that the techniques of filmmaking are taught by award-winning professionals currently working in natural history filmmaking.


Provide basic knowledge and training in the practical skills needed to make a science or natural history documentary

Examples of components of this paper

  • Cameras and the role of the Camera Operator
  • Use of cameras
  • Directing and the role of the Director
  • Formats
  • Framing
  • Lighting
  • Camouflage
  • Ethics of wildlife filmmaking
  • Sound
  • Filming in a studio and macrophotography
  • Filming human subjects
  • Editing and the role of the Editor
  • Editing with Final Cut Pro
  • Sound editing
  • Music
  • Sound mixing
  • Colour Correcting

Examples of practical exercises associated with this paper may include:

  • Produce a music video
  • Film a sequence that tells a story
  • Construct a story from supplied footage


Available ONLY to students enrolled in the MSciComm in Science and Natural History Filmmaking.

Next Application Deadlines

Applications for PhD study can be accepted at any time.

New Zealand Resident Applications for second semester study (excluding Science and Natural History Filmmaking) close 2 June

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