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BBC Launches Interactive Documentary Guides, iWonder

The BBC is taking advantage of its vast archives by launching a series of interactive guides designed around its programming. Called iWonder, the initiative launches with 25 guides centering around the topic of World War I.

Says historian and presenter Dan Snow, "I’m fascinated by the tales of trench warfare. We hear a lot about how soldiers died, so I wanted my iWonder guide to take an in-depth look at how soldiers survived the trenches. The new format gives me the opportunity to present a view on this subject in an engaging and innovative way.”

Read the full story here on Televisual.

 

BBC Tests Out Instagram for Breaking News Posts

BBC News is testing out Instagram as a new platform for delivering breaking news.

Writes PSFK, "As a bid to provide their readers with concise and up-to-the-minute news tidbits, BBC News is testing their recently launched Instafax service via Instagram to share videos and other information in a more dynamic and interesting manner. Each Instafax features an uploaded clip of news content accompanied by written copy, providing followers with easily-digestible sound bites as they flip through their Instagram."

Read the full story here.

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'Hidden Kingdoms' Creates New Sub-Genre of Nature Documentary

The BBC's new nature series Hidden Kingdoms uses unusual techniques and cutting-edge technology to bring the viewer into the world of small animals.

Says executive producer Mike Gunton to Televisual, "This is not under the microscope but in it. Rather than looking down at the subject you get the sense of what it looks like for them...You can’t explore the miniature world beneath our feet in a conventional way – either photographically or narratively – the physics of that world are so small and move so fast and the creatures live in such extraordinary ways that we had to reimagine natural history filmmaking. We’ve evolved almost a new sub genre of natural history."

Wrapping Paper Comes to Life in BBC One Idents

Director Picadilly Circus created an adorable series of holiday-themed animated idents for BBC One, which shows wrapping paper themes coming to life.

He says, "Everyone involved was keen to explore a number of different and varied styles that reflect the enormous variation found on real wrapping paper designs. This meant I got to explore and try my hand at a range of design sensibilities, without repetition."

Watch then below and read more here on Digital Arts.

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BBC Airing 'Doctor Who' 50th Anniversary Special in 3D

Even after deciding to shelve future 3D productions, the BBC plans on airing the 50th anniversary special of its blockbuster sci-fi series Doctor Who in 3D later this month.

Says series producer Marcus Wilson to The Hollywood Reporter, "The BBC has done a lot in that [trial] period and it is responsible of the BBC to check the format out rather than just launch with open ended commitment. I don't think we are quite at a stage in terms of budget or in ease of workflow where a 2D and 3D series production would work, but creatively 3D does add to the story. When the time is right we'll attack 3D again.”

BBC News Partners with Twitter

BBC Global News is the latest media company to partner with Twitter's Amplify program to deliver sponsored video content from within tweets.

Explains Advertising Age, "BBC.com has begun producing a series of short-form videos called "#BBCTrending" to appear in Twitter streams later this fall. The videos, hosted by Anne-Marie Tomchak, give viewers the inside story on trending news on social media that day -- after a brief pre-roll from a sponsor."

Read the full story here.

 

 

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Follow the Secret Lives of Cats Online

Using GPS tracking chips and cameras, BBC has created a website that allows users to follow the secret lives of ten outdoor cats.

Explains Amanda Kooser of CNET, "BBC Two's Horizon program and the Royal Veterinary College followed 50 cats in a Surrey village with GPS and micro-cameras. Cats were tracked over six different 24-hour periods to see where they went. A selection of 10 of the furry subjects can be viewed online, along with video clips of their activities.

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Ze Frank Mixes Nature Facts with Perfect Internet Humor in 'Real Facts' Web Series

Ze Frank's new web series True Facts takes nature documentaries to a whole new made-for-YouTube level thanks to his funny commentary. For his latest two episodes on the naked mole rat and the star-nosed mole, Frank teamed up with the BBC to get archival footage of the two animals.

He tells Fast Company's Co.Create, "The BBC Worldwide, they’ve done all the Attenborough stuff and everything. They’re probably the biggest content leaders in the animal world. They got in touch with us, and we basically formed this association where they’re letting us use footage that they’ve gotten since like 1980 from two animals which I’ve been obsessed with but can’t find footage on...It’s just incredible footage, and they’re the most incredible animals. One, because they’re so unbelievably ugly."

'Veep' Creator Armando Iannucci on the Similarities of Moving from the BBC to HBO

Veep creator Armando Iannucci, who made a name for himself creating funny British political satire like The Thick of It and In the Loop, talks to Filmmaker Magazine about taking on American politics with his HBO comedy.

50 Cameras Spy on Penguins for BBC Documentary

To capture the extraordinary footage found in the new tv documentary, Penguins: Spy in the Huddle, the BBC sent out cameras disguised as everything from snow to rocks to other penguins to capture insider footage from within the birds' colonies. Explains CNET, "All these robot spy cameras helped the documentary crew get right into the midst of the penguin colonies without disturbing them or altering their normal behavior. The team was able to capture stunning footage, including that of an Emperor penguin laying an egg, a moment they say was filmed for the very first time."

Read more here.

Dominic Monaghan Gets Up Close with Deadly Animals in BBC's 'Wild Things'

In a new series for BBC America, actor Dominic Monaghan gets up close and personal with some of the world's most dangerous animals and insects. He tells Access Hollywood, "My hope for the show is that it will make people think a little differently about the space that they share with these animals that they have fears of. My hope is that people will watch the show and realize these animals aren’t out to get us...I wanted to show that these animals can be extremely dangerous at times and beautiful in the same breaths.”

Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan airs Tuesday at 10/9c.

Reimagining the Nature Documentary: New Tools and Techniques for BBC/Discovery’s 'Africa'

Shedding some light on the Dark Continent of Africa has been the singular goal of a small army of digital cinematographers, producers and other crew members who collectively spent nearly 1,600 days on location, consumed 6,526 malaria pills and carried 50 tons of camera gear over 27 countries to close the deal.

An inquisitive young lion goes in for a closer look at one of the Africa team’s state-of-the-art remote cameras. Meerkats, elephants and, most of all, lions put the technology through its paces in the African bush. Photo by Discovery Channel/BBC/Felicity Egerton

Reimagining the Nature Documentary: New Tools and Techniques for BBC/Discovery’s 'Africa'

Slide text: 
<p>Shedding some light on the Dark Continent of Africa has been the singular goal of a small army of digital cinematographers, producers and other crew members who collectively spent nearly 1,600 days on location, consumed 6,526 malaria pills and carried 50 tons of camera gear over 27 countries to close the deal.</p> <table align="right" border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1"> <tbody> <tr> <td> &nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td> &nbsp;</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>The end result is <a href="http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/africa"><em>Africa</em></a>&mdash;a seven-part BBC/Discovery digital co-production assembled from more than 100 TB of footage, tapping into 42 different file formats from more than 500 HD cameras (eight of which were lost in the wilderness forever). The documentary series is currently airing in primetime on the Discovery Channel in the United States through Feb. 19. Africa will be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray and DVD on Feb. 26, exactly a week after it finishes airing on Discovery.<br /> <br /> Amid the beauty and harshness of the Kalahari, the savannah and the Congo, the Sahara and the Cape of Africa, the series boasts its own list of impressive firsts, including an alarming clash among rival male giraffes that gives dire new meaning to the term &ldquo;necking,&rdquo; a nighttime gathering of black rhinos captured with a camera system developed by the BBC that is so sensitive that it can shoot with moonlight and starlight as its only illumination, and a close-up look at the remote nesting grounds of the massive, rarely seen shoebill, hidden deep within a Zambian swamp.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;People are always making films in Africa but are never making films about Africa,&rdquo; says Mike Gunton, executive producer of the series and senior executive at the BBC Natural History Unit. &ldquo;The inspiration for me was, Could it be possible to tell the story of this great continent and all the individual places that make Africa such an extraordinary place? And so that was our goal: showing the different elements of this great wilderness and how these many wondrous locales in Africa relate to each other.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Gunton says the series strives to show viewers things that humans have rarely&mdash;if ever&mdash;seen in the wild. &ldquo;You can only do that with a lot of cameras and a lot of work over a very long period of time. In some instances only a camera can show us what the human eye cannot capture in real time, such as that giraffe fight in the first episode. The fight itself, where they use their huge necks [as weapons], only lasted maybe a minute, but showing it in slow motion using a<a href="http://www.visionresearch.com/Products/High-Speed-Cameras/Phantom-HDGOLD/"> [Vision Research] Phantom Gold</a> camera makes it come across almost like a boxing match or a ballet. We slowed down the action about 40 times thanks to the Phantom.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The brief encounter demonstrates the notion that even in the wild, patience can be a virtue. The elder giraffe, patiently awaiting what appeared to be a final (albeit non-fatal) blow from the younger male, ducks his long neck at the last second and spins around to smash the less experienced opponent in the solar plexus with the top of his head, thereby knocking the younger giraffe to the ground temporarily and ending the courtship stand-off.<br /> <br /> <iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="225" id="dit-video-embed" scrolling="no" src="http://static.discoverymedia.com/videos/components/dsc/e1ecec67e2f3167edea4df3d506edab16630666b/snag-it-player.html?auto=no" width="400"></iframe></p> <p>For one episode, the crew deployed remote cameras to film inside Zambia&rsquo;s Bangweulu Swamp to catch the nesting of shoebill birds, Gunton explains. &ldquo;These birds are enormous creatures, four or five feet high. They look like dinosaurs! We used these little remote cameras set on gyroscopically stabilized camballs, and whenever the parents were away, we&rsquo;d edge the camballs closer to the nests. We had to run a full kilometer of cable from the camballs out to the edge of the swamp where we were recording,&rdquo; he notes.<br /> <br /> Assistant director Felicity Egerton says that although the production occasionally used specialty cameras over the course of the four-year shoot, such as the Phantom Gold for slow motion sequences, the HD cameras of choice for most filming were various models of the <a href="http://www.panasonic.com/business/provideo/P2HD-VariCam-cinematography-camcorder.asp">Panasonic P2 VariCam</a> series. In addition to her directorial duties, Egerton shot most of the behind-the-scenes footage of the series for a bonus episode (&ldquo;Africa&mdash;The Making of&hellip;&rdquo;) that will air at the end of the U.S. run on Discovery Channel.<br /> <br /> Egerton&rsquo;s most memorable location work came during a difficult shoot at the Dragon&rsquo;s Breath Cave in Namibia&mdash;site of the largest underground lake in the world, which was not discovered until 1986. &ldquo;It was rather extraordinary and, for me, one of the real filming highlights of the expedition,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;We had big problems with condensation in the cameras, and sometimes we simply left them in the cave overnight to [acclimate] for the next day. Even the heat from our bodies made the cameras fog up if we stood too close to them, so we had to sometimes keep our distance.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> While much of the cave segment was shot on VariCam for the series, Egerton chose the <a href="http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/camcorders/professional_camcorders/xf305">Canon XF305</a> camcorder for most of her behind-the-scenes work. &ldquo;It rather came in handy when we were climbing up and down ropes,&rdquo; Egerton says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Shedding some light on the Dark Continent of Africa has been the singular goal of a small army of digital cinematographers, producers and other crew members who collectively spent nearly 1,600 days on location, consumed 6,526 malaria pills and carried 50 tons of camera gear over 27 countries to close the deal.

An inquisitive young lion goes in for a closer look at one of the Africa team’s state-of-the-art remote cameras. Meerkats, elephants and, most of all, lions put the technology through its paces in the African bush. Photo by Discovery Channel/BBC/Felicity Egerton

The Technology Behind Capturing BBC's 'Africa'

To film BBC's latest nature documentary, Africa, the production relied on new camera technologies ranging from time-lapse and slow-motion to remote cameras and low-light sensors. Says producer James Honeyborne, "We very much made it our mission that we would make a series based on new behaviors, new species, new places. ‘Newness’ was going to be our main currency...the technology is always in service of the story. Our aim is to demonstrate the breadth of what happens in nature. And that means a wide range of techniques and technologies are required."

Read all the details here.

BBC Earth Presents Earth Unplugged: A Digital Nature Channel for YouTube

BBC Worldwide has announced the launch of Earth Unplugged a new YouTube channel from BBC Earth, BBC Worldwide's global natural history brand.

The channel will feature a feast of new films created for a digital audience by BBC Earth Productions and is set to become a destination site for wildlife and nature. Earth Unplugged is BBC Worldwide's first original-content channel for YouTube and forms part of the company's plans to build a true consumer facing multi-channel network on the platform.

BBC's Fiery Promo for Olympic Coverage

The promo for the BBC's coverage of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games features a clever animation wherein the fire particles of the Olympic torch symbolize Britain's landscape, the arenas and the athletes. The animation was created by Passion Pictures.

Watch below.

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'Frozen Planet''s Augmented Reality Event

To celebrate the release of BBC/Discovery's Frozen Planet on Blu-Ray/DVD, an augmented reality installation in malls across the country has allowed folks to simulate playing with polar bears, penguins, whales and more. Watch below.

Watch Kids Narrating BBC's 'Planet Earth'

A bunch of adorable kids fill some big shoes when they take over for famed narrator David Attenborough in this great promo for BBC America's Planet Earth marathon. Watch as some stick to the wordy script and others improv to hilarious effect. (via PSFK)

Grading 'Great Expectations'

Jet Omoshebi talks to HD Magazine about her experience grading BBC miniseries Great Expectations. She says, "[DP Florian Hoffmeister and I] did quite a lot of work in terms of the story arc of Miss Haversham and the house in that there had to be a feeling of decay through the three episodes. Also if you watch all three of them the middle one is about Pip going off to London. So everything is shiny, bright and colorful. It's also much more vibrant as we’re looking at the world through Pip’s eyes.

Traversing the 'Frozen Planet': Documentary Series Takes Production to Polar Extremes

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<p>What took 38 cameramen and 38 sled dogs, 12 reindeer, 33 snowmobiles, 28 helicopters, 22 boats, two ice-breaker vessels, 10 four-wheelers, Alec Baldwin&#39;s voice, 18 nations, and eight pairs of snow shoes over four years in temperatures often hovering around -40&deg;F? The teeth-chattering answer is <a href="http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/frozen-planet/"><em>Frozen Planet</em></a>, an epic seven-part Discovery Channel documentary series premiering in the United States on March 18 and running on subsequent Sundays.</p>

What took 38 cameramen and 38 sled dogs, 12 reindeer, 33 snowmobiles, 28 helicopters, 22 boats, two ice-breaker vessels, 10 four-wheelers, Alec Baldwin's voice, 18 nations, and eight pairs of snow shoes over four years in temperatures often hovering around -40°F? The teeth-chattering answer is Frozen Planet, an epic seven-part Discovery Channel documentary series premiering in the United States on March 18 and running on subsequent Sundays.

'Frozen Planet:' How They Got Those Jaw-Dropping Shots

The Discovery Channel/BBC series Frozen Planet is a labor of love that was four years in the making in some of the toughest environmental conditions possible for a nature documentary. The results, however, are stunning if the beautiful slideshow on Fast Company's Co.Create is anything to go by.

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