Planet Earth II took an extraordinary look at the lives of animals around the world 10 years after the BBC’s original Planet Earth documentary.
Series producer, BBC
Drone camera technology was the major innovation that helped deliver the required level of emotional intimacy to the new series.
“The first Planet Earth coincided with the digital revolution when Ultra High Definition [UHD] was coming in,” says series producer Tom Hugh-Jones. “If there was one criticism of the first series, it was perhaps that there was an over-reliance on sweeping aerial shots that were less effective at really getting up close to the animals.”
For Planet Earth II, the producers made use of the Movi gimbal camera system – a lightweight device that rests the camera on a specialised frame balanced in the centre of two gripping poles.
The Movi was originally designed for use on aerial drones and performs like a stripped-back Steadicam.
“The plan was to make Planet Earth II more immersive as a viewing experience and to get a higher level of emotional engagement,” says Hugh-Jones.
“We filmed around animals that were used to humans so we could get closer and get more organic footage.”
Specialist camera ‘traps’ – where filming was triggered by the movement of passing animals – were used to capture footage of more elusive subjects like snow leopards. Originally designed for scientific research, the image capture process was adapted by the Planet Earth team to make it work for the series.
“We worked with scientific advisers who were able to help decipher the animals’ behaviour and calculate the best places to put the camera traps,”
Hugh-Jones says. “It was a system we refi ned over the course of three years – mixed with some luck.”
- Session Planet Earth II Showcase
- Where 12 noon, day one, Keynote Theatre
The Media Production Show takes place 13-14 June at London’s Olympia