Filming rats and bats in the urban jungle of Amsterdam

If I have learned anything since I started working in the marketing team at Axis Benelux, it is that our cameras can serve many purposes other than security.  Axis solutions can be quite useful for improving a business’ efficiency, or helping enhance the sustainability practices of an entire city. The extent of the camera’s usefulness and range of applications became very clear to me when Ignas van Schaick, a Dutch movie producer, contacted me through one of our partners with a very special request.

A few years ago, Ignas and director Mark Verkerk made an amazing and award winning documentary called ‘The New Wilderness’ in Hollands nature reserve the Oostvaardersplassen. This documentary was applauded worldwide for the fantastic and epic image quality, showing animal life throughout the four seasons. It was incredible to watch the wild horses in this wilderness that was only a 1.5 hour drive away from my home.

So imagine my surprise when they asked Axis Communications for cameras for their next project, called ‘The Wild City’! Are our cameras really so good that the images can be used for an HD-quality nature documentary?

The camera they needed was meant to film a bat colony that lives inside of a wall cavity, which is a very unusual setting for a surveillance camera, but the challenge was tempting, and actually not that far different from some of the more challenging installations we face in commercial security uses. For this placement, there was only a small opening we had to put the camera through, the light conditions were very poor and there was a lot of dirt. On top of this, the image quality had to be full-HD in order to be used for a cinema picture.

After our Sales Engineer, Edwin Brokke, did some tests we decided to provide AXIS M1 145-L network camera with full-HD image quality and infrared light to deal with the light conditions. Normally, such a camera might be found in a retail shop, a hotel, or office and is favored because of a combination of its high-performance image quality and ability to operate day and night.

Although outside its ‘natural habitat’ the camera performed very well – so well that the crew decided to use the camera again when they started to film rats in Amsterdam Central Station. They recorded some amazing images, as you can experience in the official trailer:

We know that filming rats and bats in caves and train stations is not the typical use model for Axis cameras, but if they were up to the task of these demanding requirements, imagine what they can in more civilized environments.

The documentary premiered on March 1st 2018, was critically acclaimed by the media for its spectacular footage and selected for several international film festivals. More information and behind the scenes footage can be found on the official website, ‘The Wild City’.

Behind the scenes