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Video Goes Green: Productions to Save the Planet: Backstage at Live Earth

Video Goes Green is a new, monthly section in Videography that aims to provide a resource about environmentally friendly film and video production. As well as highlighting the production of documentary films and television series with an environmental focus (upcoming features include the doc The 11th Hour, the Ed Begley Jr. HGTV series Living with Ed and the Sundance series Big Ideas for a Small Planet), Video Goes Green will feature information on environmentally friendly production products, services and companies.

This month’s Video Goes Green focus is the global July 7 Live Earth concert for environmental awareness and change, which was staged over 24 hours in locations on all seven continents, broadcast worldwide on television and radio, and streamed online to a potential audience estimated by concert producers at two billion. The event, in the tradition of earlier international music charity extravaganzas, was intended to rally world public opinion to a cause—in this case, the reduction of global warming.

Live Earth’s mission is to empower individuals to change their consumer behaviors and motivate corporations and political leaders to enact decisive measures to combat the climate crisis. Former Vice President Al Gore—now an Academy Award winner, having received the Oscar for his call-to-action documentary An Inconvenient Truth—was a driving force behind Live Earth, along with producer Kevin Wall and his entertainment production company, Control Room.

(Follow these links for Videography/Creative Planet coverage of

An Inconvenient Truth


2007 Oscar-Winning Documentary An Inconvenient Truth Shot With JVC Pro HD Camcorder

, Feb. 27, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth: Post…And Saving the Planet

, June 29, 2006

Cut + Run Helps Address An Inconvenient Truth

, May 26, 2006

Buck Helps Spread An Inconvenient Truth

, May 25, 2006)

Wall, who partnered with Gore to create the Live Earth umbrella organization, Save Our Selves (SOS), brokered the media partnerships for Live Earth, building on the architecture he helped create for the Live 8 fundraising concerts two years ago.

The Live Earth concert series brought together more than 100 of the world’s top music acts to inspire and entertain its worldwide audience. Live Earth concert locations included:

  • Wembley Stadium in London, United Kingdom
  • Giants Stadium near New York City, United States
  • Aussie Stadium in Sydney, Australia
  • the Coca-Cola Dome near Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Makuhari Messe in Tokyo, Japan
  • To-ji in Kyoto, Japan
  • Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • the steps of the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai, China
  • the HSH Nordbank Arena in Hamburg, Germany
  • Rothera Research Station in Antarctica
  • and an additional free concert hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

The Worldwide Broadcast

An unprecedented broadcast media architecture was put in place for the worldwide Live Earth broadcasts. Although the events utilized conventional broadcast production and dedicated audio remote trucks to capture and create content, the delivery media went well beyond television and radio to also encompass the Internet and wireless handheld platforms.

Uplinks at the Live Earth venues transmitted standard- and high-definition TV signals via Intelsat’s network of satellites to the three production centers—in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and London—and the postproduction world feed was distributed worldwide over Intelsat’s GlobalConnex terrestrial and satellite network.

The Live Earth concert was broadcast across TV networks in more than 100 countries. More than 20 broadcasters, including all NBC Universal domestic networks in the U.S., the BBC in the U.K. and NHK in Japan, dedicated 100-plus channels to concert coverage. In the U.S., highlights from Live Earth were broadcast by NBC during a three-hour primetime special, while sister services Bravo, the Sundance Channel and Universal HD each offered up to 22 hours of coverage of the event from around the world (including an Antarctica-based performance by a group of British scientists). In addition, NBC’s Telemundo and mun2 broadcast Live Earth’s Latin acts.

MTV Networks initiated its own slew of activities in conjunction with Live Earth, including the production of a series of 10-minute “bulletins” each hour on July 7, as well as the launch of a Live Earth-dedicated Web page. Sundance Channel took advantage of the event to launch its “Eco-mmunity Map,” a Web search tool for finding green-friendly businesses that also promotes Sundance Channel’s THE GREEN program block.

Worldwide, Live Earth was broadcast via more than 120 radio channels, including 200 syndicated stations in the U.S. Sprint’s Power View original programming network delivered mobile simulcasting, as well as on-demand replays, of Live Earth concerts at the Wembley and Giants stadiums. An exclusive online partnership with MSN provided live Internet streaming to 42 countries. Users were able to switch in real time between the nine concerts, which were instantly archived for continued viewing at the end of each show as the day progressed.

The SOS Short Films Campaign

Live Earth is a project of the SOS campaign, which is using a powerful multimedia platform—consisting of short films, television and radio PSAs, an interactive Web experience (, books and the Live Earth concerts—to provide a global audience with the tools to tackle the climate crisis. The message of SOS is that everyone everywhere can and must Answer the Call to solve the climate crisis.  

Another project of the SOS campaign is the SOS Short Films Program, whose mission is to create a series of compelling and informative short films between 1 and 10 minutes in length that highlight the problems with, and the solutions to the global climate crisis. SOS commissioned 60 filmmakers from wide-ranging genres and mediums—including feature films, documentaries, music videos, commercials and animation—to create provocative shorts. The films range in tone from factual and dramatic to fictional and comedic.

Seven of the SOS films debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 25 and 50 debuted at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 24. Additionally, the short films were broadcast on a variety of television networks worldwide in the run up to and during the concert events on July 7. The films are being streamed online via global online partner MSN ( and will be shown at international film and music festivals throughout the summer before being released on DVD later in the year.

London’s Rushes provided postproduction services for three of the short films in the SOS Short Films Program: Director Suzannah Deakin’s “Round and Round,” Director Big TV’s “Polarbearman” and Director Alex Smith’s “The New Normal.”

Editorial facility Final Cut completed editorial work on a series of four short films (“Real Estate,” “Dating Agency,” “Restaurant” and “Desert”) for the SOS Short Films Program. The film series depicts Bob and Harry, the last two polar bears on Earth, played by Rip Torn and Harry Shearer in bear costumes. The biggest challenge for Final Cut’s editors was balancing the comedy script with the Live Earth campaign’s overall message of solving the global climate crisis.

“When this project came to us, it was nice because [Director] Oli [Barry] and I knew each other, which made for an easy and fun collaboration,” remarks Editor Gary Knight. “Due to the quick turnaround, we had to divide the work among three of us. At the same time, the shorts had to be complementary and cohesive. This meant a lot of meticulous planning and discussions with Oli and Sophie [Keller, Oli Barry’s wife, who also co-wrote and starred in the films]. Every one, from Human to The Mill, gave 100 percent, and the Live Earth team loved the final product. It was great to be able to contribute to a cause that needs the world’s attention.”

In addition to Final Cut’s editorial services, the “Bob and Harry” campaign was achieved with postproduction from The Mill, telecine from Company 3, music from Human and audio post from Ravenswork.

From commercial director Mac Carter of Anonymous Content, Producer Sean Welch (Spellbound) and Editor Karen Knowles Zuniga comes “Dave,” a short film about one ordinary guy’s extraordinary effort to make a difference in global warming. Commissioned for the Live Earth SOS integrated media campaign, this lighthearted film follows Dave and his dogs as they tour Los Angeles Asian food restaurants in search of waste vegetable oil to turn into biodiesel.

“So often films associated with the environmental movement can be a gloomy recitation of the facts,” says Director Carter. “Sean and I wanted to find a story that would entertain while raising awareness of global warming. We wanted to participate in this project because it is important to get the message out to the largest possible audience to effect real and significant change; global warming is here and we need to do something now.”

Carter and Welch approached longtime friend Karen Knowles Zuniga of

Rival Editorial

to edit the project from 20 hours of footage to the final eight-minute film. Title design was provided by Subtext Studio, and

The Syndicate

was responsible for postproduction.