'Frozen Planet' went the distance to get scenes of polar worlds
(Yvonne Villarreal/Los Angeles Times, 25 March 2012) -- There's a world out there where a finger of ice can destroy everything in its path. Where strobes of green light dance across the sunless sky. Where unicorn-like creatures roam the sea. And it's not the stuff of CGI-loaded blockbuster fantasy film. It's "Frozen Planet, "a seven-part Discovery Channel and BBC mega-series exploring the Earth's arcane polar regions. (It premiered last week, but its first installment will repeat Sunday just before the second episode.) Made by the documentary team behind 2006's groundbreaking "Planet Earth" and narrated by Alec Baldwin, "Frozen Planet" is epic in scope and cinematic in execution, demonstrating how far nature documentary series have come. "This is not your grandfather's 'Wild Kingdom,'" said "Frozen Planet" executive producer Alastair Fothergill, referring to the show launched in the '60s that studied wild animals in their natural habitat. "There's been a long history and lots of different techniques that have been tried since then to document nature." ... Nine months of preproduction research went into the project, with a 10- to 15-page script set as a guideline. "We had to work out how we spend our money," Fothergill said. "And we try to be calculated and film novelty, because you don't want the dedicated natural history audience to say, 'We've seen every wild beast in Serengeti.' The bar is constantly getting higher and higher." To get those scenes required much trial and error — and a lot of waiting. Cameramen battled howling winds and sub-zero temperatures to shoot a never-before-caught-on-camera "wave wash," in which a pod of orcas cooperate to wash a seal off an ice floe — in a six-week trip, they witnessed more than 20 before getting the image viewers see. And director Chadden Hunter and his team scoured Wood Buffalo National Park for weeks, lugging equipment while wearing snowshoes and cross-country skis, to capture the dramatic scene of wolves closing in on bison prey that made it into the series. ...
Posted 25 March 2012; 5:13:51 PM. Permalink
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