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Trainee Camera Bursary, Life of Plants

Please Note: The application deadline for this job has now passed.

Job Introduction

The BBC Natural History Unit (NHU) is acknowledged as the leading maker of television and radio programmes on wildlife and natural history anywhere in the world. 

Renowned for our innovative production techniques, we’re offering a one year traineeship to an individual with substantial experience of natural history filming and field wildlife observation.

Based in Bristol, the NHU output covers a wide range of programme subjects and formats. These include blue-chip series such as Blue Planet 2 and Planet Earth 2, as well as live, topical events like Springwatch and Autumnwatch, or Radio 4's Tweet of the day. 

For the first time in 25 years the Natural History unit is making a BBC 1 landmark series on the world of Plants. This is global in its scale. This 5-part series will bring a brand new perspective on the plant world.  We will discover how plants are the dominant form of life on our planet and essential for the existence of animals. They create ecosystems, communicate with each other, form alliances, fight, look after their own offspring and manipulate the animal world for their own ends. We will be employing a whole range of new visualization techniques to take the viewer on a stunning and completely novel journey into the world of plants.

For Plants will use a wide range of filming techniques, for both small scale and big scale filming. So we are looking for someone who brings a passion and interest in learning about new technology and finding ways to use it to create new kinds of images. These will include timelapse, microscopy and other forms of extreme macro work, low light filming, studio work, tracking/gimbal equipment.

You will work with a passionate and closely integrated team. You will have involvement in the series editorial, testing of equipment, detailed planning for its use in studio and in the field. Your training will be on-the-job as well as attendance at formal courses and you’ll be allocated a Mentor to help and support you through this training programme.  In addition your role may include travel to locations in the UK as well as overseas. 

All wildlife content is acquired from freelance operators; there are no BBC staff positions in this category.  Consequently, on completion you will be released to compete on the freelance market for work, either from the NHU or elsewhere.  The traineeship is aimed at those with sufficient relevant skills and experience to enable rapid progress to full professional competence. You will need to include a link to your showreel with as part of your application.

Please note if you do not include a link to your showreel we will not consider your application.  

If you have already applied for the Trainee Camera Bursary, NHU Landmark you are also eligible to apply for this role but you will need to complete an application.

Role Responsibility

  • To assist camera persons and production staff engaged on natural history projects at base, on location or in studios.
  • To assist with the research and development of production ideas into shooting scripts and schedules. 
  • To assist with the preparation, transport and set up of a range of cameras, as currently used in wildlife content acquisition.
  • To undertake on location the preparation, maintenance, installation and operation of a range of cameras and any ancillary equipment as necessary.
  • To log and manage recorded data on location and at base.
  • To provide written records of relevant information as required by the management of the production.
  • To provide written and visual material for all media and platforms as required by the production. 
  • To operate unsupervised when appropriately experienced and briefed.

Are you the right candidate?

  • Experience of shooting in 4K.
  • At least one broadcast and/or corporate credit.
  • Knowledge and understanding of photographic techniques applicable to wildlife production. 
  • Technical expertise that must include: an understanding of the underlying principles of video and still digital photography; hands-on operation of digital cameras; an understanding of the processes associated with supplying material for websites and web pages. 
  • A flair for creative composition. 
  • The ability to understand complex programme making technology. 
  • IT skills are essential; must be able to operate with confidence a range of appropriate applications, including one or more used in media management. 
  • A strong, developed interest in natural history and natural history programme making. 
  • Wide experience of observing animals in the wild and setting up wildlife sequences.
  • The patience, tenacity and determination required to acquire detailed behavioural content of wildlife. 
  • Appropriate experience and resilience to cope with remote and hostile locations.
  • A right to work in the UK is essential.
  • When not on location filming you will be expected to be based in Bristol.

About the BBC

We don’t focus simply on what we do – we also care how we do it. Our values and the way we behave are important to us. Please make sure you’ve read about our values and behaviours in the document attached below.

Diversity matters at the BBC.  We want to attract the broadest range of talented people to be part of the BBC – whether that’s to contribute to our programming or our wide range of non-production roles.  The more diverse our workforce, the better able we are to respond to and reflect our audiences. 

We are committed to equality of opportunity and welcome applications from all individuals.  And we promote flexible working opportunities where operational needs allow.  

To find out more about Diversity and Inclusion at the BBC, please click here

The BBC is committed to redeploying employees seeking suitable alternative employment within the BBC for different reasons and they will be given priority consideration ahead of other applicants.  Priority consideration means for those employees seeking redeployment their application will be considered alongside anyone else at risk of redundancy, prior to any individuals being considered who are not at risk.


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