Intrepid camera crews braved harsh nighttime conditions and used all the technical ingenuity at their disposal for Night on Earth, a new nature documentary series from Netflix that lets viewers see familiar animals in a startling new light. There’s also a fascinating behind-the-scenes standalone episode, “Shot in the Dark,” that details everything that went into several highlighted shoots.
Per the official synopsis: “When the sun goes down, a new world awakes. New technology reveals wonders of the planet in a completely new light. Across the globe we discover a hidden side to the world’s greatest landscapes and animals.” Creating the series required 60 separate shoots over one year, in 30 different countries, tapping pretty much everyone who works professionally in the wildlife filmmaking community.
“We wanted to show the color and magic of the night,” series producer Bill Markham told Ars. That said, finding stories of things that happen in the wild after dark was quite difficult, because not many scientists stay up all night to observe animal behavior, although there is much they can infer from tracking data, for instance. There was also the technical challenge of modifying various cameras, picking the correct lenses, and finding camera crews willing to brave extreme conditions all over the globe—all in the dark.