We’ve seen Tweeting sharks and honey badgers, driving dogs, armed dolphins, soothsaying cows, live streamed eagles and even erotic cats. And now we’ve got an octopus photographer—AKA Octographer—after Sony and FCB gave ‘Rambo’ a camera and taught it how to take photos of visitors to Kelly Tarlton’s aquarium.
With the help of animal trainer Mark Vette, who also lent his hand to the Driving Dogs campaign, the octopus was taught to take photos on a Sony cybershot TX30 underwater camera. Visitors were be able to make a $2 donation to the Sea Life Trust at scheduled times to have their photo taken by the cephalopod (FCB and Sony seem to have a thing for underwater campaigns, as they promoted waterproof headphones by selling them inside bottled water at swimming pools).
“The TX30 is a high quality camera for underwater photography – it is shock, dust and water resistant and we wanted to show it off,” said Sam Duncan, general manager at Sony, in a release. “… We wanted to show that quality under water photos could be taken by anybody because the TX30 is so easy to use. As unusual as it sounded at first, giving it to an octopus just seemed to make sense.”
Well, more sense than giving it to a shark.
Curator at Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium Andrew Christie said octopuses have a high level of intelligence and investigating their environment and learning tasks comes very naturally to them.
“Something like this fits perfectly with our goal of enriching the lives of our animals,” he says. “Through this process we have been able to provide a positive experience for both Rambo and for the public, who will hopefully learn something new about octopuses as result.”
Vette from Animals on Q says Rambo took to the task like a duck to water—or, perhaps more accurately, an octopus to photography—and, with some incentivisation, figured it out in 35 days.
“Nothing like this has ever been done before. We did a lot of observing of the octopus in her habitat before we started, because it is all new. When we first tried to get her to take a photo, it only took three attempts for her to understand the process. That’s faster than a dog. Actually, it’s faster than a human in some instances.”
In our favour, it’s unlikely human photographers would completely destroy the camera, as Rambo did early on in the process before a new rig was made.
Not surprisingly, in this era of online opinion sharing, not everyone is sold on the idea. As one YouTube commentor said in rather entertaining fashion: “I don’t really see how this is so amazing or cool or whatever… you got an octopus to push a button.. Does he really understand that he is taking photographs??.. Or what a photograph even is? Why would an octopus even give a shit about photographs anyways. You could get just about any animal to press a button with the right kind of rig and motivation. Try getting a teenager to do his homework… now that’s a real fucking challenge … Wake me up when they train an octopus to point & aim the camera, adjust shutter speed and aperture, and share a selfie on his Facebook page. Then I’ll be fucking ecstatic.”
Client: Peter Buckton
Agency: FCB New Zealand
Regional Executive Creative Director: James Mok
Executive Creative Director: Tony Clewett
Executive Creative Director: Regan Grafton
Writer: Peter Vegas
Art Director: Leisa Wall
Art Director: Christiaan Van Noppen
Head of Content / Exec Producer: Pip Mayne
Head of Art: Nick Smith
Director/DOP: Michael Braid
Group Account Director: Toby Sellers
Account Director: Hannah Downes
Account Executive: Laura Little
Lead Behavourist: Animals on Q – Mark Vette
Assistant Handlers: Animals on Q – Jazmin Vette dal Bello and Rosie Miles
Curator Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium: Andrew Christie
Marketing Manager: Claire Wheeler Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium
Rig Developers: Harrison & Watkins Ltd: Harry Harrison and Blair Muchamp
DOP – event coverage: Traction Films: Nic Fay
Editor: 6Twenty: Simon Wade
Editor: FCB: Grant Nicholson
Media Director: Rachel Leyland
Media Planner/Buyer: Erin McCaughley
General Manager of PR: Angela Spain
PR Senior Account Director: Kimberley Kastelan
Digital Director: Kate Grigg
Customer Experiences Director: Ele Quigan
Music composer: Peter van der Fluit
Music composition/studio: Liquid Studios
Studio Producer: Sarah Yetton