How To Film a Cheetah Sprinting at 61 Miles Per Hour

National Geographic shows how a team filmed Sarah, the fastest cheetah in the world, sprinting at top speed

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Over the summer, a videography team for National Geographic set out to capture Sarah, the world’s fastest cheetah, running at full tilt. Clocking an impressive 5.95 seconds on the 100-meter dash, Sarah’s swift feet make her a challenge for anyone intending to snap photos that aren’t just one giant blur.

NatGeo released the teaser video of the run, seen below, showcasing Sarah’s prowess.

Cincinnati Zoo Cheetah Sets New World Speed Record in 100 Meter Run | National Geographic

How, exactly, does one film a giant cat cruising along an impressive 61 miles per hour? In the clip, you can see a long track stretching down the course. On that track, a complex camera array and a high-speed video camera raced alongside the speeding cheetah. NatGeo released a behind-the-scenes video detailing their set-up:


The top clip, comparing Sarah to Olympic gold medal sprinter Usain Bolt, was not the product of the track-mounted rig. For that, says PetaPixel, we’ll need to wait until the November digital edition of National Geographic.

The video is a demonstration of the amount of time, effort, and skill required to film such a fleeting moment—qualities top nature videographers have in spades. Take this video, representing the total opposite end of the scale, that shows one 60-second sequence in the BBC’s 2009 series Life. This gorgeous time-lapse took two years worth of work to plan and film.

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