In the ten years since the Planet Earth nature documentary series premiered (we covered its production way back in the March 2007 issue of Videography magazine), technology has evolved at an astonishing pace. Technical and storytelling innovations are on display in almost every frame of Planet Earth II, which will debut in the United States on BBC America, SundanceTV and AMC on Feb. 18.
“We’re able to go further, get closer and capture behavior and places that would have been impossible 10 years ago,” explains executive producer Mike Gunton and series producer Tom Hugh-Jones. “The latest camera stabilization techniques have allowed us to free the camera from the tripod to follow directly in the footsteps of animals, traveling with them to experience their worlds. We’ve used drones to create a new aerial perspective, and the new generation of low-light cameras has allowed us to capture the drama that takes place in the darkest night and deepest jungles. A major advancement has been the development of high-quality remote camera traps that have allowed us to witness creatures and behaviors so elusive that they were considered almost impossible to capture.”
Gunton adds, “We have the time and the experience and the resources to push technological boundaries. We’re always looking for new ways of revealing the wonders of nature to people.”
“We’ve used remotely operated cameras that we strategically placed in locations it would be impossible to put a cameraman,” Hugh-Jones says. “The animals almost operate the cameras themselves! When they walk by, the camera is triggered to start and films them. The snow leopard is a good example of how this has given us a new perspective. On Planet Earth, the snow leopard was filmed on the end of a telephoto lens nearly a mile away. What we’ve done [on Planet Earth II] is go back to the same location and stake it out with dozens of these remotely operated cameras. So instead of the camera being far away from the animal, it’s now three feet away.”