'HUMAN': The making of aerial footage

Discover Yann Arthus-Bertrand and his crew in the backstage of the aerial shootings



Bruno Cusa, chief operator of aerial shots.HUMAN

“When Yann sees a place, he knows immediately what he wants to highlight. I try my best to match his very own style, which communicates strong emotions through graphics and beautiful images. Sometimes it is a great site that has already been filmed or photographed a thousand times... but very often it is just a random place to which Yann is attached, and that he chooses to sublimate through his photos. We use a helicopter-mounted camera system called 'Cineflex' that provides high stability and great image quality even with the very long lenses Yann is particularly fond of.”

Bruno Cusa, chief operator of aerial shots

Camera CineflexHUMAN

Cineflex? Tell us more

Shooting aerial footage imposes numerous technical constraints, beginning with the use of a very specific type of camera, the Gyro-Stabilised Cineflex HD, which, as its name suggests, overcomes stability and vibration problems, resulting in an effect similar to a crane movement. Initially developed for military target-finding purposes, this camera is able to zoom large distances – also its K7 tapes can be changed aboard the helicopter.

In total 120 kg of material to be installed in a very compact space.

Making of - Installation de la cineflexHUMAN

Yann Arthus-BertrandHUMAN


Why combine aerial sequences with interviews?

Through aerial sequences, Yann Arthus-Bertrand shares with the audience his vision of the world and of its people, offering a reading of our planet that is at once poetic and critical.

In 'HUMAN', the camera lens reveals unsuspected places of beauty, but also carefully focuses on the lives of people worldwide. The often uneven development of our societies is emerging on our land, and our landscape, the aerial images act as a witness.

Yazid Tizi - Producer, in charge of aerial imagesHUMAN


"Same smells, same feelings, same emotions. For Yann, Bruno and me, it's always a delight to return to a country where we already shot footage and sealed lasting friendships. It is a reunion with all the Malagasy, who as always, show a peaceful smile and kindness on their lips."

Rice fields near Betafo - Vakinankaratra, MadagascarHUMAN

"Day 1:
Setting up the Cineflex Camera in Thierry’s hangar. Next to our Eurocopter Ecureuil there is an ancient Alouette 3, previously used when shooting 'Earth from Above' in 2006. The machine is buried under the dust like an old worn albatross.

Day 2:
The President of the Malagasy Republic commandeers our helicopter for a state visit to the interior. The Malagasy Air Force apparently is unable to provide him with a helicopter. So now we must dismantle the entire Cineflex systems (several hours of work) and the simple crucial question is: will the helicopter be back in time to start shooting? Waiting begins…

Day 3
It is all good. We set up the camera again and take off towards Isalo Park, flying over the majestic Makkai Massif. Near the village of Ilakak, incredible images of miners digging sapphire entirely by hand under a blazing sun. Such a harsh and incredible sight in 2014.

Day 4:
The giant Morondava Baobabs stand out afar. Overturned Bottle Trees, the symbol of Madagascar and of endemism.

Day 5:
Yann’s camera brushes over the sharp blades of the Tsinghys Massive. A unique and grandiose mineral spectacle bathed in the evening light. Manahattan-on-the-jungle... On the football field of the village of Bekupaka, dozens of children are waiting for the helicopter to arrive. They play soccer with a ball made of plastic bags tied with a string.
The Mayor, still in his seat after 20 years in office, welcomes us with his benevolent smile.

Day 6:
Back to Antananarivo, but the weather is tricky... we can’t shoot that much.

Day 7:
The water rice fields of Antsirabe with working farmers offer us a great spectacle. Totally unexpected images, but really great shots for the movie. It is time to return to Paris and Bruno I wonder: When will the next shoot in Madagascar be?"

Madagascar shooting anecdote told by Yazid Tizi, producer in charge of aerial images

Abuna Yemata Guh Church – In the Gheralta massif, south of Hawzen, Tigray Region, EthiopiaHUMAN

Abuna Yemata Guh Church – In the Gheralta massif, south of Hawzen, Tigray Region, Ethiopia

Attabad Lake (Lake Gojal) - Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan (Northern Territory), PakistanHUMAN

Attabad Lake (Lake Gojal) - Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan (Northern Territory), Pakistan

Manhattan Island and One World Trade Center - New York , USAHUMAN

Manhattan Island and One World Trade Center - New York , USA

Jalousie - Slum bordering the city of Pétionville suburb of Port-au-Prince, HaitiHUMAN

Jalousie - Slum bordering the city of Pétionville suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Dyeing factory near Karachi - Sindh, PakistanHUMAN

Dyeing factory near Karachi - Sindh, Pakistan

Aerial shots - Post productionHUMAN


Aerial images are subject to a special treatment in post-production. The final phase of the realisation of a movie, post production is similar to the last brush stroke that enhances both sound and image. This is a shot taken during the parade of Republic Day in India.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Armand Amar in the studiosHUMAN


Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Armand Amar, the composer, in the Studio in the middle of one of their brainstorms to develop the soundtrack which accompanies the aerial sequences.

Credits: Story

Thank You:

Florent Gilard
Nuno Pires
Mélina Huet
Valentin Wattelet
Sterenn Hall


Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Yazid Tizi
Bruno Cusa

A GoodPlanet Foundation & Bettencourt Schueller Foundation Production in partnership with the Google Cultural Institute

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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