Human skeleton in the wood.

Human skeleton found in the woods? 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? Neil is now using his photographic skills and love for plants by producing the interactive plant selector, planting advice and pruning guide encyclopaedia CD-ROM.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Neil

A truly fascinating subject. I would love to be a criminal scientist (apart from all the blood).

I have written about it on Landscape Juice http://www.landscapejuice.com/2007/06/bones_have_been.html

Best

Phil Voice