Earth's Earliest Animals, Bullaki Science Podcast With Emily Mitchell

by Samuele Lilliu | 24 March 2022

In this Bullaki Science Podcast, Emily Mitchell gives an overview of the first animal communities dating back to the Ediacaran period.

Dr Emily Mitchell is a palaeontologist, a NERC research fellow in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge working on understanding the origins and early evolution of animals on Earth.

In this Bullaki Science Podcast, Emily gives an overview of the first animal communities dating back to the Ediacaran time period (580 million years ago), which lived in the deep-sea. She also talks about her field work at Mistaken Point (Canada) involving the characterisation and preservation of Ediacaran fossils, as well as modelling methods for understanding the Ediacara biota dynamics and interactions. Her background spans a variety of fields including physics, mathematics, ecology, Earth Sciences and, more recently, astrobiology.

The pre-production for this podcast involved about one week of diving into Emily’s published work and coming up with a series of questions that would guide the audience through a timeline of Earth’s history. I think it’s really important to stress on the film preproduction work I had to go through before sitting and discussing these topics with my guest. The host must be able to understand the topic to guide the conversation in a meaningful way.

For the video production process I tend to set things up in advance and make sure all camera and sound equipment are working properly. Key aspects of this process involve calibrating the three cameras with the colour chart. This is done by making sure the colour charge is mounted on a stand, placed where the host or the guest will be sitting. Each camera must be at the same position. It is fundamental to ensure the colour chart is evenly lit. I then proceed with micro-adjustments of the manual lenses aperture to ensure perfect match between cameras while looking at a false colour monitor. Once settings in all cameras are matched, I proceed with recording short clips with each camera. This process guarantees a perfect colour match between the three cameras (2 x Canon C200 and one BlackMagic Pocket Cinema camera) when colour grading in Davinci Resolve.

If you self-produce your video podcast you need to make sure your setup has been properly tested before your guest comes in. Once you press play, relax, forget about the gear and focus on the talent.