From north to south, and east to west, our world is full of thousands of different landscapes and climates. Some so cold in the winter that even the furriest of creatures go into hibernation, to so hot in the summer that they are struggling for adequate shade. Only a select few organizations have sufficient technology to delve into the life of an animal. One of these companies, the British Broadcasting Corporation, or BBC, launched a television series in 2006 named Planet Earth. The show is narrated by perhaps one of the world’s most esteemed biologists and environmentalists, Sir David Attenborough. If you have been living under a rock your whole life, and don’t know who he is, his voice has a certain awe about it, and is also weirdly relaxing…sorry, I digress.
Anyhow, Planet Earth has a younger sibling, Planet Earth II, which is simply the second season of the show. From the script to the production of the show and execution of some of the world’s best animal footage, the series is very informative and captures some once-in-a-lifetime events. However, many articles and reviews about this show claim that maybe it is doing more harm than good. Let’s find out together.
25 Once in a lifetime discoveries
On a remote and hardly touched island, deep within the icy waters of Norway, the crew managed to capture some specular footage. According to Factinate, they discovered a sleuth, or pack of Polar Bears roaming around. In order to protect the species, as it is already highly endangered, the island, and others surrounding it have a no human policy, however, the Planet Earth crew were the first in 25 years to manage to obtain a permit to film on the island.
24 Surprise, David!
We all know the ‘Bro’ (David Attenborough) is a man with endless wisdom, and a wealth of knowledge about everything, well at least related to biology and the environment. What you may not know, however, is that according to several insider reports, such as BBC Entertainment, Attenborough actually learned some new things while on the job. After all, geniuses are always learning, right? The crew has described this very rare but real occurrence as ‘genuine surprise’ and they even said that it is a good feeling when you surprise him because it does not happen often.
23 Are sloths really that lazy?
BBC has told of some rather surprising information. Planet Earth II shows that sloths may not be as lazy as we have come to believe. In fact, there is rare footage showing a male swimming, yes, swimming, across to meet with a female. The scene shows the sloth dodging mangroves off Panama, only to find out that the female had already given birth. Ah well, at least he got his daily dose of exercise…now back to sleeping in a tree, what a dream!
22 The Many Islands
Shortlist says that the Islands episode of Planet Earth II took an insane 3 and a half years to film! Let me break it down for you, courtesy of Shortlist. First, the preparation alone took one year, no cameras. 12 filming sessions were needed in the to-be aired version of the episode, and the individual shoots ranged from two to six weeks. As this was the first episode of the highly anticipated sequel series, it needed to be perfect, and perfect it was, with 12.3 million viewers tuning in to the episode!
21 Money is so funny
We all know that blockbuster films have huge budgets, but make their money back in no time thanks to skyrocketing cinema ticket prices. Perhaps this nature documentary is no Avatar or Avengers, but it does highlight some of nature’s greatest features. Factinate lists Planet Earth’s production and filming budget at $25 million USD. Furthermore, it took a collective effort from 40 cameramen, traveling to 200 interesting locations, over 5 years to cap-off a simply amazing series.
20 Not quite 5-star
When people travel for work, it is common for us average Joe’s to think that business travelers live it up, traveling the world, staying in hotels, racking up those frequent flyer miles. Yes, this may be the case for some successful business people, however, the film crew for Planet Earth has been very far from this. Shortlist outlines that the crew took nine days in a sailboat to reach the filming location for ‘Islands’, where the producer had to spend two weeks in the same clothes, the crew was bitten by mosquitoes and other insects. Oh, and in Panama the crew finished filming for the day, only to find a huge Boa Constrictor eating their food back at HQ!
19 It’s a waiting game
Filming such perfection is a waiting game. One blink could see you miss that shot you’ve been freezing your knickers off for. Shortlist says it took the crew a whole week to get just a sneak peek at Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise, and a further three weeks just to see a female turn up. Also, Shortlist tragically informs us that whilst filming for the episode ‘Grasslands’, the crew could do nothing except watch on as up to 150,000 Antelope perished from a spreadable bacterial disease…just awful news.
18 Filming from all heights
At 90 years of age, it is no secret that narrator Sir David Attenborough is no spring chicken, but if I’m honest, after reading what is to follow, I would strongly contest. Yes, 90 years of age is getting up there, but Planet Earth II sees the crew filming from some amazing locations, including but not limited to, hot air balloons. BBC says the…Atten-bro has filmed from high up in the freezing mountains for days or weeks on end just to capture that perfect shot. It really goes to show that slow and steady wins the race.
17 Men, listen up
As men, it takes a lot for us to listen to advice, let alone adhering to it, no matter how helpful it is. Maybe we should try and learn a thing or two from Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise. In order to attract a female, it cleans up the leaves and other debris in the immediate area around it, allowing its array of vibrant colors to stand out, per BBC. So, there you go…perhaps if we lived more like this smart creature, we would find ourselves in a much better position, in all aspects of life.
16 New technology
Technology is advancing at a lightning pace every day. A relevant example is that between the Planet Earth and Planet Earth II, there were highly significant improvements in filming technology, which allowed the crew to capture more than ever before, with the most notable being the development of drones. BBC Entertainment states that the show even created their own new technologies including a big indoors area at sea as to observe half-sea half-above, as well as a camera which was later dubbed ‘towcam’ so the crew could film sea-life who would otherwise be too quick for normal cameras.
15 First in, best dressed
Channel 24 says that Planet Earth II was the first series of its kind to be aired in UHD, meaning the audience is able to fully engross themselves with the show. Ultra-High Definition video, or 4K, paired with the soothing, yet enlightening voice of Sir David Attenborough, it is no wonder why the show was, and still is, such a hit with people from all ages, all over the globe. There is yet to be a show with the complexity and sophistication as is evident in Planet Earth.
14 Experiment time
The Telegraph UK brings about some damning news that the crew from Planet Earth II performed an ‘educational experiment’ on some baby turtles. The crew attempted to show the audience that man-made lights hindered the turtles’ ability to adhere to their natural senses and once hatched, head towards a body of water, however the film crew, upon shining light during the hatching process, caused the turtles to walk the wrong direction. Rest assured, though, Attenborough and the crew helped them back in the right direction shortly after filming had ended!
13 Memory full
According to Channel 24, 400 terabytes of footage was taken for just six episodes. They compare this to 82,000 full DVDs of recordings, which, if my math is correct (usually it is not, but I’ll give it a go) equates to just over 13,000 DVD’s per one-hour episode. There is perfection, and then there is precision. Every individual scene is carefully filmed, staked out for as long as needed, just to bring us the absolute best documentary possible, and I think it has worked.
12 There is a first time for everything
The first time we achieve a new thing in our lives, we acknowledge it, and then move on. However, it is not the same story when the Planet Earth crew spent 16 weeks over three visits to Ladakh, India. Channel 24 says an attempt to capture footage of Snow Leopards not only took actual humans 16 weeks over three visits but took special cameras placed strategically in the Leopards’ natural habitat 15 months. All of this work paid off, because eventually, after years of waiting, a world first emerged on camera…four Snow Leopards sighted together for all to see.
11 Risky business
I am so jealous of the safety and risk crew members who have to deal with filling out paper work…no not really. It is quite clear from watching even just 10 minutes of an episode that there are endless amounts of risk by the film crew to get the best shot possible, and they are willing to put their lives in danger for that. Be that as it may, BBC Entertainment says the crew are very lucky and have had no serious injuries. This all comes down to planning and meticulously watching every move the cameramen make.
10 Lion v Buffalo
For you fans out there, how good is the Lion v Buffalo chase? The suspense building, asking yourself ‘what will happen next?’, and then in the blink of an eye, the chase is on! While the scene altogether may only go for less than an episode, Shortlist reveals that it took three months of staking out to capture the scene. Furthermore, prior to this captivating chase, the crew’s boat was supposedly trapped amongst the dense plantations, and was forced to walk through a crocodile and hippopotamus infested swamp!
9 Not all about animals
One of the series’ producers has told BBC Entertainment that the sheer amount of filming exposes the crew to the reality of pollution which affects our world today. He said, “you can go to the middle of the ocean and find plastics from many different continents coming together”. While the sight of pollution is few and far between in the episodes, we must remember that some, if not most, of the animals we meet in Planet Earth will at some point be affected by this pollution.
8 Hans who?
Famous for a number of movie themes, such as The Lion King, Inception, Gladiator and The Dark Knight’s, Hans Zimmer seemed like the perfect candidate to produce the soundtrack for Planet Earth, according to Factinate. While not an action or thriller movie per se, the series still involves enough action to be classified as…I guess you could say an ‘action documentary’, keeps you on the edge of your seat, but teaches you a thing or two as well.
7 A 2-in-1
Two facts in one coming right at you, thanks to Shortlist. First fact - Planet Earth II was original to be named ‘One Planet’ but in 2013, was modified to what we know it as today. Second fact – Sir David Attenborough no longer travels into the field, but not to worry, he is still involved in the script writing and goes the extra mile to ensure a great show for the audience, as he has always done. Just because he has taken himself off-field work, whatever show he produces will still be as spectacular as ever.
6 New species uncovered
Factinate also tells us about a new species that was discovered while filming. Trying their absolute hardest, the crew would risk it all to bring us a new species, whether it be underwater, atop a freezing mountain or in the middle of a dangerous and arid desert. Through all of this, only one new species was found…I guess that’s more than you and I combined, so kudos to them. The new species was that of a blind fish which happened to live underground in a cave in Thailand.
5 Miracles do happen
The BBC Entertainment has said that during the endless hours of filming, traveling and overall producing, production manager Katie Hall broke some amazing news. She stated there were three weddings, five babies, with two on the way, and four new houses among crew members. Who doesn’t love a bit of gossip! She did not say if the babies and weddings were between crew members, but nevertheless, it is an amazing feat in four years.
4 Saving the world
World-renowned biologist and the man at the forefront of Planet Earth, Sir David Attenborough, has told Factinate, and his millions of followers that filming the earth and the creatures on it could be the key to saving any endangered species, and also those who are feared to begin the extinction process. He says making people more aware of the world around them will open more minds to change, and that television can “provide that link better than ever before”.
3 Off-field filming
What does this mean, you may ask. Well, off-field filming, according to BBC Entertainment means footage that has been shot in a laboratory, under controlled conditions. Although the show is 99% field work, it has become apparent that some shots would be too unsettling for some animals, an example has been used by BBC Entertainment, naming the episode, Coasts, where we see rock pools. These kinds of things are done in a lab as to protect any unwanted attention towards the crew from animals.
2 Taking advantage of social media
Social media has become an empire of late, and it is no question why the show has taken to its millions, no…billions of users with its content previews. The series trailer for Planet Earth II exceeded 43 million views, according to BBC Entertainment, which is a very, VERY respectable number. It is also said that thanks to its social media exposure, a younger audience is slowly building for the show, enhancing the likelihood of Sir David Attenborough’s goal of global awareness to become attainable.
1 Attention all
The series has somehow managed to capture our attention in a way that we are glued to what the animals will do next, and somewhat hypnotized by the voice of God (Attenborough). Factinate compares the animal chases to a James Bond thriller, only better! Well, I cannot agree more. Watching this animal planning their next move, how they will capture their prey, and then finally the chase is on. Simply enthralling to watch, and has many glued to their TV screens until the conclusion of the chase. The commentary also helps, as it is highly informative, but also humorous at the same time.