January 18, 2014

Christmas Heat in South Africa

Wrapping a busy year, David and his son Elijah headed South for Christmas to catch up with family, top up their tans and have a bit of an African road trip up to the Orange River Wilderness Camp on the border between South Africa and Namibia. How the month flew by …

November 20, 2013

Istanbul Marathon

Tenthirteen was invited back to Istanbul, one of our favourite cities, for the 3rd time to look after the Istanbul Marathon.
Our two-man crew flew out with 2 Cineflex v.14 cameras and fitted them to two Bell Longranger helicopters, ready for race day.
After a successful test and a bit of rest and recreation in the lovely Istanbul, race day dawned.

The co-ordination of being able to constantly transmit for 4 hours on race day and take into account that each helicopter would have to refuel 3 times during the course of the race took some planning by Tenthirteen’s team, but working closely with the pilots and refueling crew we achieved a 100% transmission for the 3rd year in a row.

It was a great job and good fun too!

September 30, 2013


Speaking of challenging: the BBC NHU once again approached Tenthirteen to discuss filming great white sharks hunting seals off Seal Island which is in False Bay, (Cape Town), South Africa. To our knowledge this hadn’t been done successfully before. The sharks are notoriously quick and come up from the deep and the only way to approach the shoot was to look for seals coming in from feeding, lock onto one on the long end of the lens and hope that there would be a predation. The challenge was to operate on the long end of the zoom for prolonged periods and when something happened, to hold the framing perfectly.

With 3 mornings allocated in the budget we were fortunate to have ace film Pilot, Chris Bohnen and a long lens, specialist cameraman – David McKay, onboard. We had a spotter boat and a safety boat on station in case of an emergency ditching situation. Needless to say, if we did find ourselves having to ditch, we didn’t want to spend any more time than absolutely necessary in the Bay, which is well known as having the highest density of great white sharks in the world!

During the first morning session, we did not see a single kill, but the following morning we were lucky enough to achieve what has never been done from the air. We filmed sequences of 3 kills, one prolonged chase between a shark and a seal and another sequence where, after one shark hits a seal, another shark shoots up from the depths to steal the kill. It was intense and extremely exciting and holding the shots steady was challenging in itself when, from nowhere, a very big great white shark appears at speed to take a seal.

It does make the hackles stand up somewhat especially considering that David, being from Cape Town, has spend many hundreds of hours surfing and swimming in that very Bay. Luckily, the great whites prefer seals. It really was a humbling experience to see such magnificent and endangered predators and is something that will remain with us for the rest of our lives.

September 1, 2013

The Great British Year

Happily, we once again found ourselves working with the BBC NHU on a new 6 –part series, filmed over 3 years, called “The Great British Year”.

Winter (February 2013)
Our first shoot was in the depths of a wintry February with freezing fog, snow and frost at dawn and dusk – all on the same day. The images were extraordinary and none of us had ever seen anything like it before. Trying to capture a hare in the winter landscape on a 880mm lens from a helicopter proved to be an interesting challenge but the opportunist shots looked great when we looked back at the rushes. Flying over the clouds covering London whilst heading for snowed-in Suffolk and Norfolk was fabulously serene and beautiful. After the frozen darkness below it was lovely to be floating above the cloud with the blue skies and bright winter sunshine.

Spring (May – June 2013)
Our “Spring” shoot was down in the West Country with shots of Glastonbury Tor, rookeries, rivers and the orchards coming into bloom. The early morning mists and backlight just seemed to emphasise the beautiful, mythical quality of the region. The next leg took us up north to the Farne Islands to shoot the bird colonies. The weather had been dreadful but luck was on our side as we had timed our shoot to perfection and with a refueling stop en-route in a field that we had organised, we arrived at the best part of an already gorgeous day and got some stunning footage of the islands and the colonies.

Summer (July 2013)
“Summer” was shot mostly down in the South West and Wales with the beautiful Arne peninsula in Dorset, featured. The first evening the wind was blowing a particularly un-summery 45 knots, which made for extremely hard work. Before we called it a day, we did manage to get an incredible shot of a thunderstorm at sunset. The colours and backlit rain looked extraordinary. Thankfully, the following morning dawned calm and the towering clouds reflected in the sea, together with the heather that was in bloom and the herds of deer, all made for some lovely footage.

Autumn (September 2013)
“Autumn” was shot in the New Forest and the Wye Valley which always look breathtaking, whatever the season. Flying as low as possible enabled us to present the forests as massive and continuous swathes of colour and we managed to get some beautiful autumnal colours. The mist floating through the Wye Valley and swirling in amongst the trees lent even more atmosphere to a magical autumn landscape.
It was a real privilege to work on such a comprehensive study of the seasons of Britain and was a reminder once again of what a richly varied and extraordinarily beautiful country this is.


July 24, 2013

Food Map of Britain with James Martin

Next, we spent a very enjoyable week filming the aerial sequences for BBC2’s series: James Martin’s Food Map of Britain from Tenthirteen’s fixed wing aircraft which has been modified to take a Cineflex camera system.

We flew around the UK with James, an avid aviator, in the co-pilot’s seat chatting about the UK’s delicious regional culinary delights. Needless to say, we learned a lot about food production, farming and ingredients from James and we sampled a fair amount of his fabulous recipes during the course of the week. We feel they are most definitely worth trying at home – so click on this link to try some of them out for yourself…


The fixed wing system of aerial filming is both flexible and cost effective as it enables us to cover long distances quickly, to stay airborne for up to 5 hours at a time and, as it is a twin-engine aircraft, we are able to fly over water without restrictions. Most importantly, in terms of budget it is approximately one third of the cost of a helicopter. We designed and pioneered the system to great effect for a programme called “Bomber Boys” with Ewan McGregor and his brother flying in a DC-3 and Lancaster Bomber with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and also on the BBC NHU’s series “Africa” where we flew from the UK to Morocco and Tunisia to film for the “Sahara” episode.

We loved working with James and the BBC 2 team and would be first in line if – as he mentions in the making of video clip below, he fulfills his ambition to take the Food Map global. Check out the “making of “…link below to get a flavour (sorry) of this fabulous series: