The Making of BBC’s Planet Earth

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The newest technology and intimate storytelling combine to bring us the most cinematic nature documentary to date.

There is a good reason why Sir David Attenborough—Britain’s undisputed national treasure—has more titles following his name than one could possibly remember. His voice has given life to some of the best-remembered moments of nature’s cruel beauty, breaking conventions and pioneering ways we look at the world around us.

Starting with Zoo Quest in 1954, Attenborough’s team have without fail been behind revolutionary filmmaking that brought viewers across the world such wonders as The Blue Planet, Life Story and the most recent and stunning masterpiece of Planet Earth II.

Planet Earth, which premiered in 2006, took five years to film across 64 countries and was the most expensive nature series ever produced by the BBC. Breathtaking as it was, its sequel breaks new ground yet to bring us the most cinematic nature documentary to date.

Leaving the early 16mm cameras far behind, Planet Earth II uses the latest technology, some of which only became available in the past few years. Going from static, highly-edited composition dictated by cumbersome camera equipment to the fluid, intimate perfection of the high definition age, the latest BBC Natural History Unit’s project has achieved the seemingly impossible: taking the viewers through what animals might—without trying to sound anthropomorphic—be feeling in their environment.

A journey like no other, technology only plays a part of it. The story behind the often gut-wrenching, nail-biting imagery is what makes the Planet Earth series the success that it is: creating the relatable narrative of a cycle of life full of adversity, danger, perseverance and death.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: Azam Kassim

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