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Planet Earth - format of origination


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#1 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 05:53 AM

I have watched the Planet Earth series narrated by Attenborough when it aired on tv several months ago. For those not familiar with this show, it was an ambitious project by the BBC showing all sorts of habitats around the world such as mountains, deserts, caves and rivers and the wildlife that inhabits them. Sort of like an updated version of Life On Earth, which was also narrated by David Attenborough.

Though I'm puzzled by what formats or medium this series was shot on. The majority of wildlife documentaries are shot on 16mm film. Just before the Planet Earth series aired, the ads on tv were boasting that this series was shot on High Definition. In that case, I would assume that such a show would be used to showcase the kind of image potential that High Definition has so that other producers, seeing what the technology is capable of, would utilize HD for similar sort of shows in the future. However, looking at the DVD of Planet Earth today in a bookshop, I noticed on the back that it stated that this series was shot with 'state of the art cameras using high definition film.' I am puzzled. To my knowledge, there is no 'high definition film' in the current movie film stocks available from Kodak or Fuji. Though I do know that Kodak have released a 'high definition film' for the 35mm still market. And surely they didnt mean this.

Much of the series had a very film like look to it but i was just assuming that this was due to the highly advanced High Definition cameras that I thought they must have been using. Though there were a few shots that did look slightly videoish. In particular, the footage of the great white sharks jumping out of the water, despite being very spectacular footage, did look quite videoish. There were many memorable ariel tracking shots in this series. One of these ariel tracking shots showed a pack of wolves pursuing their prey and I was intrigued by the unusually long take. The camera just kept rolling and rolling. Even though this was an amazing natural spectacle that was occuring, I find it hard to believe that if they had been shooting on film, they would have kept shooting continuously. I was assuming that HD must have been used here as this is one of the benefits of using video - very long takes if something out of the ordinary occurs over a long duration.

So does anyone else have any factual knowledge of what medium or mediums and formats that Planet Earth was shot on? Was it a combination of film and HD? I'm not 100% sure but it looks like one particular shot was stock footage obtained from the Living Planet two part series from the late 70s / early 80s. It featured the same unusual animal and the same composition.
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 08:08 AM

Hi,

At least some of it was Varicam; a making-of was shown concerning the use of a propeller-driven miniature balloon for some aerial stuff on African trees where the camera was readily identifiable.

Phil
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#3 John Holland

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 11:58 AM

And rest was Super 16mm, and some 35mm, bye the the way film is hi-def , there is no thing as special hi-def film stock , shouldnt belive what you read on backs of DVD boxes . John Holland , London.
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 02:21 PM

I'm not sure I'd call 500 speed super 16 high def.

Abominably noisy high def, perhaps.

Phil
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#5 John Holland

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 02:25 PM

Phil, me neither never mentioned 500 stock , most of that stuff was shot using 50/ 100asa stock . John Holland , London.
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#6 Matthew Buick

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 03:28 PM

I saw a Panasonic DVCPROHD in the behind-the-scenes and was surprised at how nice the video was, maybe film is doomed after all.
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#7 Mark Dunn

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 03:58 PM

The hype certainly implied it was all HD. Simon King was using some jerry-built Heath Robinson high- speed rig. I couldn't help thinking that a Locam at 500pps would have done the job. At £200 a pop, though.
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#8 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 08:51 PM

"there is no thing as special hi-def film stock , shouldn't belive what you read on backs of DVD boxes."

To tell you the truth, I never did!

Though it annoys me when the wrong terminology is used in the industry. Consumers may be forgiven for mistaking these terms but I'm surprised when such 'mistakes' are made within the industry itself. For example, I was watching a travelogue show on tv which was shot on video, as the majority of them are. And at one point, the female host was proudly boasting that a particular special event that they were recording had been 'captured on film.'
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