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3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

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3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

Old 03-19-10, 12:59 AM
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3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10078/1043970-67.stm

Discovery Channel series finds new 'Life'

Friday, March 19, 2010

By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PASADENA, Calif. -- In 2007, Discovery Channel's "Planet Earth" showed off this big, blue marble of a planet while revealing the benefits of watching nature specials shot and telecast in high definition: Vibrant colors and startling detail.

The same production team returns to show off the world's living creatures in even finer close-up in "Life," a BBC co-production premiering Sunday, 8-10 p.m., on Discovery Channel.

Fans of nature programming may be disappointed that Oprah Winfrey has taken over narration duties in this American presentation from British naturalist Sir David Attenborough, who narrated "Life" when it aired in Britain -- it appears the possibility of spiking the ratings with a popular American icon trumps a lifetime of knowledge at Discovery -- but it's not as if Discovery executives have asked Jessica Simpson to narrate.

Besides, it's the visuals that bring life to "Life."

Four years in the making, "Life" will air two episodes every Sunday night through April 18. Sunday's first hour, "Challenges of Life," serves as an overview of the more flora-and-fauna-specific episodes that follow.

Cheetahs hunt together, taking down an ostrich. A panther chameleon devours a praying mantis in extreme close-up. An ibex goat clambers up a cliff side in an attempt to escape a red fox. Stalk-eyed flies extend their eyes, literally "bugging out," to attract a mate ("females love a bug with really long stalks," Ms. Winfrey says).

Additional "Life" episodes include "Reptiles and Amphibians" (9 p.m. Sunday), "Mammals" (8 p.m. March 28), "Fish" (9 p.m. March 28), "Birds" (8 p.m. April 4), "Creatures of the Deep" (9 p.m. April 4), "Hunters and Hunted" (8 p.m. April 11), "Insects" (9 p.m. April 11), "Plants" (8 p.m. April 18), "Primates" (9 p.m. April 18) and "Making of 'Life'" (10 p.m. April 18).

"This series is not about how cheetahs or how elephants or how whales behave," series producer Mike Gunton said at a January press conference. "It's how a particular cheetah, how a particular lion, how a particular humpback whale is behaving at one particular time in its life. That's very important because that gives real drama and real impact."

Mr. Gunton said given the program's potential scope on a planet that contains "somewhere between 10- and 30-million different species," producers' goal was to capture new events.

"We were very keen to show things that people hadn't really seen before," he said. "One of the attractions of these huge great series that the audience has for them is that they're seeing things that surprise them."

To that end, the production used ultra-high-speed cameras that can shoot up to 3,000 frames per second, picking up things the human eye would miss. Shooting in HD also improves visuals.

"I filmed the Vogelkop bowerbird, and one of the concerns was that was in a very thick, deep jungle and it's only really through HD that we could film that and represent the vibrant colors involved in the structure that this bird builds," said producer Stephen Lyle. "We purposely built a blind quite a distance away, covered it in foliage and had this incredibly long lens, which shuts down the amount of light that you can get through the lens, but the HD allows us to do that."

Producers say "Life" includes many caught-on-film firsts, including the bugging-out flies, a spatuletail hummingbird courtship display and a giant starfish devouring a dead giant Pacific octopus.

More than 70 cinematographers shot "Life," using different approaches depending on the situation and wildlife involved.

"If you're filming Komodo dragons, you have one approach working with a very unpredictable, very dangerous animal," Mr. Gunton said. "If you're working with butterflies, you can get much closer."

He said filmmakers often spend time with scientists in advance of filming to learn what to expect from the animals.

"We're very, very careful not to disturb them, they stop doing this behavior, and we are in the business in this particular series of getting just amazing behavior," Mr. Gunton said.

Cinematographer Roger Munns was tasked with filming male humpback whales as they pursued female whales. Because the bubbles from a scuba tank would distract and annoy the whales, Mr. Munns had to take a deep breath and dive underwater to commence filming.

"A female would be far enough ahead and these 10 bull males would be steaming after her with one thing on their mind," he said. "My job was to basically jump in front of that train of humpbacks on a single breath of air, competing with humpbacks that can do the same thing for 20 or 30 minutes. I can do about two minutes.

"I kind of liken it to putting yourself on a freeway with the oncoming traffic and having 10 trucks just steaming toward you," Mr. Munns said, "and you just kind of hope that the drivers of those trucks see you and get out of the way."

"Whilst holding you breath at the same time," Mr. Gunton added.
Old 03-19-10, 01:29 AM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

Here the trailer, can't wait.

<object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/BoqCcHQZlWw&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/BoqCcHQZlWw&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="640" height="385"></embed></object>
Old 03-19-10, 02:33 AM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

Do we get another dumbed down narration and edit in th US like we did with Planet Earth as well?
Old 03-19-10, 03:58 AM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

Yeah, Oprah is narrating it.
Old 03-19-10, 08:19 AM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

Originally Posted by MrX View Post
Yeah, Oprah is narrating it.


They have the perfect equivalent with Mike Rowe. They should use him to narrate more.
Old 03-19-10, 01:37 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

This is so annoying. Are most Americans really that averse to hearing a British narrator??
Old 03-19-10, 01:42 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

Originally Posted by JakeNeff View Post
This is so annoying. Are most Americans really that averse to hearing a British narrator??
If it ain't 'Merkin it's crap!
Old 03-19-10, 01:50 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

I remember seeing a trailer for this a while back. Looks awesome, and even without the trailer if they just told me that it's from the PE people, I'd be down.
Old 03-19-10, 01:50 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

oprah? ugh.

huge fan of planet earth. guess i'll be downloading the UK episodes instead. David Attenborough or nothing.

edit: looks like it's actually already out on blu-ray in the UK:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Blu-ray.../dp/B002KSA4F6
Old 03-19-10, 02:53 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

I really want to see this, but Oprah's presence could very well be a deal-breaker for me. Her voice makes my skin crawl.

I may wait for a domestic BD release, and hope it has Attenborough's narration.
Old 03-19-10, 03:51 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

I've been such a huge fan of Attenborough ever since the Life of Earth series. I even have the book somewhere.

Oprah just doesn't cut it. She's just missing something, a lot of something. Sigourney was amazing in her narrations, but Oprah doesn't even come close her.
Old 03-19-10, 04:44 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

Originally Posted by 12thmonkey View Post
I really want to see this, but Oprah's presence could very well be a deal-breaker for me. Her voice makes my skin crawl.
Ha! It actually makes me do this:
Old 03-19-10, 05:33 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

Originally Posted by mkdevo View Post

edit: looks like it's actually already out on blu-ray in the UK:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Blu-ray.../dp/B002KSA4F6
I assume that won't work here this time around. Anyone know?
Old 03-19-10, 08:29 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

Originally Posted by Michael Corvin View Post
I assume that won't work here this time around. Anyone know?
i don't think so. US release is 6/1, and they're doing 2 separate releases -

DA: http://www.amazon.com/Life-narrated-.../dp/B002UXRGM0

OW: http://www.amazon.com/Life-narrated-.../dp/B0039UTDFG
Old 03-19-10, 08:41 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

If a documentary isn't narrated by David Attenborough, David McCullough, or Peter Coyote, then it's dead to me!
Old 03-19-10, 10:16 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

Originally Posted by mkdevo View Post
i don't think so. US release is 6/1, and they're doing 2 separate releases -

DA: http://www.amazon.com/Life-narrated-.../dp/B002UXRGM0
Awesome mkdevo, thanks for the link. I removed the second link since it isn't necessary.
Old 03-19-10, 10:18 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

i'm looking forward to it outside of the Oprah narration.
Old 03-19-10, 10:24 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

I will not watch or buy anything that has any connection to Oprah.
Old 03-19-10, 10:42 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

As long as Sarah Shahi returns, I dont care who's doing the voice overs.

D
Old 03-20-10, 12:42 AM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

Originally Posted by Michael Corvin View Post
I assume that won't work here this time around. Anyone know?
I toyed with the idea of picking up the U.K. Blu-ray, but everything I read said it wouldn't work in the U.S. (under normal circumstances, of course).
Old 03-20-10, 10:53 AM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

I personally will wait on the David Attenborough version to be available here.

Here's a clip on the making of the BBC version ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/life ):

<object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/VrDnCLczYA4&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/VrDnCLczYA4&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="640" height="385"></embed></object>


And here's a non-embedded link to a clip from the BBC version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7eQKSf0LmY


Attenborough is worth the wait!

.
Old 03-22-10, 03:37 AM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

Why couldn't they hire somebody cool like Willem Dafoe instead of Oprah?

Maybe he was busy with those Merrill Lynch commercials.
Old 03-22-10, 12:30 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

I don't know if I watched the same show but I watched it last night and David Attenborough was doing the narration. The EP was the Violent World of Plants. Is this the first EP?
Old 03-22-10, 01:01 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

You must have been watching something else. I watched "Life" last night and the two episodes were the introductory one and an episode on reptiles and amphibians.

I miss Attenborough too, but that's no reason to miss out on watching this. Amazing photography work, as one would expect. The ibex scene was particularly impressive.
Old 03-22-10, 01:51 PM
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Re: 3/21/10 "Life" from the people who made "Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

I watched about 30 minutes of the first episode last night. Good stuff, as usual. Oprah wasn't terrible, but I'll definitely be getting the Attenborough BD set. The score was excellent. Something I don't ever recall thinking twice about during Planet Earth.

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