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Discovery's "Planet Earth"

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Guest Stephen Murphy
Curious if anyone knows what the camera kit is like for Discovery HD's new series "Planet Earth"....

 

It was shot on a range of formats from film to Hd and Video.

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Any idea how they shoot the growing of plants and fungi in fast motion? I'm assuming it isn't time lapse because the sun nor shadows ever change positions during those shots.

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The only effective way to film the growth of plants is with time lapse. In regards to the lack of shadow movement, perhaps the plants were filmed in a controlled studio-like environment that allowed sunlight in for the plants' growth (between exposures.)

 

I was reading a book once which discussed the time lapse filming of plants. In this particular example, the plants were growing inside a glass 'green house' receiving all the sunlight they needed for normal growth. However, about once every six hours, a signal from an interval timer drew curtains across the glass, turned on a set of studio lights, exposed a single frame of film, advanced the film to the next frame, turned off the lights and opened the curtains again. I assume also that something must have covered the glass ceiling at this time too, blocking out sunlight so that only the studio lights were the primary source of illumination for the exposures.

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I was reading a book once which discussed the time lapse filming of plants. In this particular example, the plants were growing inside a glass 'green house' receiving all the sunlight they needed for normal growth. However, about once every six hours, a signal from an interval timer drew curtains across the glass, turned on a set of studio lights, exposed a single frame of film, advanced the film to the next frame, turned off the lights and opened the curtains again. I assume also that something must have covered the glass ceiling at this time too, blocking out sunlight so that only the studio lights were the primary source of illumination for the exposures.

 

 

Wow, sounds thorough. I would have guessed it was totally done with computers.

 

Do you know if they are also able to incorporate camera movement with that time lapse technique? Some of the sequences are long tracking shots which show plant growth as the camera dollies along.

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Wow, sounds thorough. I would have guessed it was totally done with computers.

 

Do you know if they are also able to incorporate camera movement with that time lapse technique? Some of the sequences are long tracking shots which show plant growth as the camera dollies along.

 

Hi res digital stills and taking advantage of the smaller resolution of HD to pan and scan within the larger series of stills photos? Or perhaps multiple cameras and some sort of image stitching technology? They are very good though especially the shots of the tops of the rain forest growing. Im not a fan however of the heavy grading they seem to do on some of the footage.

 

Sasha

Edited by A. Whitehouse

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If you watch the short "making of" segments after each show, you can see that varicams are well-represented, but I did notice one location interview with a pile of film cans sitting nearby.

 

The timelapse stuff must be studio (just a guess), maybe with some kind of mo-co rig? the camera is clearly creeping through the set during some sequences.

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Loads of studio stuff , loads of cheating , cant watch any of those type of progs . most big set ups all most like a sfx feature , but the punters lap it up .

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One thing that really stood out was the fake snow during some of the snow-leopard sequence-ACK! If you're going to fake it, at least move the snow with some relation to the pans and camera movement!

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haha! I agree that some of the CG stuff is over the top, but I really think a lot of what they do is beautiful. But you know what opinions are like.....

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Discovery will always be discovery. Its a network with a board and investors to satisfy. They will "cheat" on sfx, cgi, etc to make a point. Bottomline is always on somebody's mind. Y'better believe that!

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It was shot on a range of formats from film to Hd and Video.

 

Are you sure? One of the ads on Discovery claimed it was the first documentary of it's type to be filmed entirely in HD.

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Are you sure? One of the ads on Discovery claimed it was the first documentary of it's type to be filmed entirely in HD.

 

 

Yep, there's film thrown into the mix. In the behind the scenes interstitials, they mention something about lugging around cans of film stock.

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The part from the Antarctica was shot on 16mm, the part with the snow leopards was shot on the Varicam and the part with the Wolves hunting in northern Canada was done with a Cineflex gimbal which is based on the F950.

The BBC do alot of their stuff on DVCPRO HD, so I would imagine most of it is.

 

I bought this book. Nice read if your interested in this kind of programming.

 

Planet Earth : The Making Of An Epic Series

 

I thought it was quite an amazing series. It's a world most of us will never see and none of us will ever truly understand.

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It was certainly an ambitious series by the BBC. In my eyes, it seems like an 'updated' version of Attenborough's earlier series 'Life On Earth.' From what Ive heard, a mix of HD, 16mm and 35mm was used to shoot the footage. I got quite a surprise when i learned that, for the US airing, David Attenbourough's narration was removed and replaced by Sigourney Weaver's.

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It was certainly an ambitious series by the BBC. In my eyes, it seems like an 'updated' version of Attenborough's earlier series 'Life On Earth.' From what Ive heard, a mix of HD, 16mm and 35mm was used to shoot the footage. I got quite a surprise when i learned that, for the US airing, David Attenbourough's narration was removed and replaced by Sigourney Weaver's.

 

Ive seen a lot of the footage before but not with the heavy grade that seems to have been applied. They replaced Attenborough with Sigourney Weaver? What a strange thing to do when he has such a great voice. They show this on Discovery in the states? Doesn't the BBC broadcast under BBC international in the US? I noticed the fake snow as well, also some pretty crude day for night shots. Also I think some of the time lapse is shot on location and not in studio, I particularly remember a shot of the top of the rain forest.

But I don't want to take away from a great documentary series which is pretty enthralling to watch and some of the footage is 20 years old. Always loved the bits with the birds.

 

Sasha

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"The slow motion shot of the shark bursting out of the water for a kill was shot in 35mm."

 

Gee..that is a surprise to hear that. That particular footage looked very 'videoish' to me, even more video-like than the snow leopard sequence. Regardless, it was amazing to see anyway.

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well, I wasn't there, but again, on the short "making of" segment, they showed the cameraman on the boat using what looked like a kind of industrial high-speed video camera- a small box, lens and bunch of cables. It sure wasn't a 35mm camera.

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Yep, there's film thrown into the mix. In the behind the scenes interstitials, they mention something about lugging around cans of film stock.

 

Maybe I was thinking of the Galapagos series that aired on National Geographic shortly before Planet Earth started.

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nevermind, found it:

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressrele...anet_four.shtml

 

or to quote:

 

" Supported on the deck of Chris's small boat in the rolling high seas by the rim of a bicycle wheel, Simon stood primed with his ultra-slow motion unit.

 

To reveal the action, the team had modified a specialised studio camera, normally used to analyse car crash safety tests in ultra slow motion.

 

Applied to a shark breach, this revolutionary camera should slow down a one second leap into a 40-second shot.

 

But the camera also had another important capability. The camera continuously records so Simon could catch the action even though the shark could strike at any time and in any place. "

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Curious if anyone knows what the camera kit is like for Discovery HD's new series "Planet Earth"....

 

One camera they've used was a Photron high speed camera.

http://www.photron.com/

I just shot a music video with it. We had a wolf running through a forset. We got amazing results from this camera.

The only downside was that we were filming in North England, so the we lost loads of light from take to take.

But I appreciate what those high speed cameras can do for you.

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