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Human skeleton found in the woods? Was it murder?

Category: Wildlife filming behind the lens | Posted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 4:44 pm

Human skeleton found in the woods? Was it murder?

How plants can help forensic scientists to determine if its murder.
No, this is one of wildlife cameraman Neil Bromhall time-lapse sequences for a sequence on Nature's Detectives series to demonstrate how forensic scientists can tell if it's murder or death by natural causes plus how long a body has been lying in a wood by looking at the amount of plant growth.

Time-lapse is a filming technique used to speed up time. I used this technique a to good effect whilst working on David Attenborough's "The Private Life of Plants" series.

The filming is done in a studio where I can control the light, humidity, temperature, moisture plus day length.
I dress the set to look like a natural wood with the human skeleton laying on the ground. The sequence was to demonstrate how a forensic scientist could study the plants and tell if a body found in the wood was murder or not.
This CSI style forensic research provided vital information to the Police by revealing how long the body had been laying in the wood. The forensic scientist took samples of the plants growing through the bones, sliced through samples of roots and stems then counted the annual rings to determine that the body had laid there for a precise number of years.
This vital information could help the Police to eliminate suspects. For example any suspects that were either in prison or living abroad could be eliminated from the enquiry.
This sequence was filmed over a twelve week period.
By using three cameras I could get a number of wide and close up shots for the Editor to cut into a 45 second sequence.

So what skeletons have you got in your closet?

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hummingbird3172 wrote on Sun Jun 24, 2007 4:51 pm:

I always find this sort of thing to be so interesting.


glendann wrote on Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:00 pm:

This is sure interesting.I watch all shows on tv like this.I find bones very enlighting .


Netty wrote on Sun Jun 24, 2007 6:31 pm:

I watched a show like that once, only they were studying insects on decaying pigs to determine the time of death. It was very interesting!


eileen wrote on Sun Jun 24, 2007 6:34 pm:

Fascinating stuff Neil!! Nature can tell us so much if we only know what to look for. There is a 'body Farm' in America that researches just the kind of thing you are talking about. I would love to go and see it as they have bodies in every stage of decomposition. No I'm not some sort of 'weirdo' just extremely interested in this particular branch of foremsic science.


Neilb wrote on Sun Jun 24, 2007 6:44 pm:

I wonder if the film you saw about maggots on decaying pigs was the one I filmed with Nigel Marven called Nature Detectives? If so I filmed this in Australia. It is amazine what the forensic guys can learn from studying the life cycle of various flies and maggots. It was very hot and very smelly but also fascinating


CritterPainter wrote on Sun Jun 24, 2007 11:43 pm:

Ugh. Reminds me of my Search & Rescue days, the long hike out of the woods speculating how the chap in the body bag got there. Ugh ugh ugh. Was about my last search, I much preferred the rescues! Interesting field of study, tho.


muddybob wrote on Wed Jun 27, 2007 2:20 pm:

I saw that show too! Good job. I like to think of all the work that goes into making these shows seem so seemless.


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