Planet Earth returned to the BBC in grand fashion last Sunday, bringing the beauty and madness of this wondrous natural world into the homes of millions of UK viewers. Now, to give the rest of the world a taste of things to come, the BBC is releasing behind the scenes footage using spherical video.
The acclaimed nature documentary series has always kept technology at the center of its effort to present the planet’s most beautiful images
to viewers. The original Planet Earth
was filmed with 200 cameras by 40 teams across the planet over five years, and at the time was the most expensive nature documentary to be commissioned by the BBC and the first to be shot in high-definition.
Now, a decade later, the stakes are higher. For Planet Earth II, shooting took place in over 40 countries with 117 film trips over 2,089 days of nonstop filming. This will be the first BBC documentary shot in Ultra-high-definition, so if you’ve been waiting for a reason to get that 4K TV, this might be it. After all, Black Friday is right around the corner.
Capturing even more groundbreaking images required deployment of the latest technologies
, notably: drone controlled cameras, automatically triggered remote recording and the latest UHD an HDR formats. David Attenborough, the series’ 90 year old presenter/narrator, has said
, “The technology and shots are unparalleled. You couldn’t do these shots 10 years ago. It’s important television and should, every now and again, take an in-depth view of something.”
The arrival of 360º video has been one of the main technological advancements since 2006, and what better way to offer an in-depth view of something than immersing the viewer completely in it?
Keeping with the series’ tradition of pushing the visual envelope, the BBC has released behind the scenes videos shot in 360º to be viewed through Youtube on VR devices that takes viewers out of their bogus realities and slings them into the far-flung reaches of planet earth.
So far, two such videos have been released, the first for the first episode, “Islands.” If you missed it, then you missed the best chase sequence in the history of television:
For the behind the scenes video, you can take a look at how the filmmakers prepared for the scene; as the narration plays, you can move the camera to glance around the barren island, watching as cameramen work to perfect what has become one of the only glimmering television moments in this dark year.
In advance of this tonight’s episode, “Mountains”, BBC released 360 video of how they captured one of the world’s most elusive big cats, the snow leopard, on film. The resulting footage goes from innocuous to highly NSFW very rapidly.
360 video hasn’t managed to find much of a foothold in the mainstream yet, but short immersive experiences like these offer a glimpse into what the future of the format holds.
Planet Earth II currently airs exclusively on BBC1, Sunday nights, and won’t come stateside until January 28, 2017. In the wait for the US premiere, we are all baby turtles, sprinting frantically towards the ocean. Out of many, few will survive.