29 NATURAL HISTORY FOCUS Atlantic Productions
ife finds a way.” That’s the theme of ‘90s dino resurrection classic, Jurassic Park . Thirty years later, new technologies are being used to
THEY’RE BRILLIANT, THESE BIG BBC SERIES, BUT THE DANGER IS THEY ALL BECOME VERY SIMILAR
bring back the prehistoric past in remarkably realistic ways. At the vanguard of this rebirth is the award-winning Atlantic Productions. No matter what the challenge – 3D, VR, sophisticated visual effects or one-on-ones with the late Stephen Hawking, Barack Obama and regular collaborator Sir David Attenborough – Atlantic finds a way.Along with the BBC Natural History Unit, Atlantic is one of the few documentary producers who could be said to have a world-famous brand. Anthony Geffen started the company in 1992, just as Steven Spielberg started shooting Jurassic Park . The company’s strategy has been to push the envelope of what is possible in capture, distribution and exhibition technologies to bring factual content – especially natural history content – to new audiences in deeper and richer ways.
“They’re brilliant, these big BBC series, but the danger is they all become very similar,” says Geffen. “You have lions and they’re beautifully filmed and they’re getting better and better. But I think we need to find new narratives. “When we were working with David Attenborough, we changed the ways he’d worked previously. For example, he never would have done a film like Natural History Museum Alive , where we had amazing animations brought to life in a museum. He was having to act to blank screens. And when we developed Kingdom of Plants 3D , we produced new 3D technology that could reveal new things about plant life.
These are methods for seeing the natural world in a different way.” The company’s willingness to go to any length to find a new story has most recently taken its team to the jungles of Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park, in which the stuggles of the documentary crew and the making of the programme are as much a part of the narrative as the creatures they’re documenting The production has rigged hundreds of cameras at every level of the rainforest, with the crew working on the forest floor monitoring the action for a whole month. The challenges they face include how to capture footage of a harpy eagle
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