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The future of slow motion porn has arrived
March 26, 2007 11:30 PM   Subscribe

The mother of all Mother Nature programs premiered in the US this weekend on the Discovery Channel. The 11-part series makes the most of three remarkable camera technologies: shooting in total darkness, counter-vibration stabilizers, and 1000 fps sequences. Here are some clips of: penguins sliding, baboons swimming, and birds of paradise mating. Finally, here's footage from the original BBC version (with the much preferred David Attenborough narrating) that shows, for the first time,a snow leopard hunting in the wild.
posted by phaedon (43 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fun fact: Fun Fact: David Attenborough is known in the criminal underworld as a repeat rapist, and has raped many famous and non-famous men and women in the past. He escapes punishment by raping the police sent to capture him, in a vicious raping circle.

Just kidding. Attenborough recently won the title of Greatest Living Icon by viewers in the UK, beating out McCartney and Morrissey.
posted by phaedon at 11:49 PM on March 26, 2007


Previous post on snow leopards.

In other leopard news: Island leopard deemed new species
posted by homunculus at 11:51 PM on March 26, 2007


Interesting. Thanks, I hadn't heard of this yet. And noticed there is also a feature length version in the works.?.
posted by p3t3 at 11:58 PM on March 26, 2007


As awesome as this is, somehow "unseemly access to everything" pops into my mind. I mean, sitting at home, expending no extraordinary effect, I can get more and better face time with snow leopards than people who have been killed and eaten by snow leopards.

And then jump right over to the middle of ocean to watch a shark grab a seal and pirouette gracefully through the air in slow motion. The cameraman saw nothing but a splash and some thrashing. Sitting at home, we have a more privileged view than someone who was actually there.

The highlight reel is realer than reality, meaning real isn't real enough.
posted by Ictus at 12:35 AM on March 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


I did a website for one of his specials many moons ago. I can still remember staying up all night watching 12 hours of raw video to capture images.

David Attenborough is awesome. And thanks for the clips.
posted by maxwelton at 1:22 AM on March 27, 2007


I watched this on BBC when it came out. It is well worth the time though the narrative theme is a bit weak. The visuals are awesome. The additional shows about how they filmed it are also interesting with their footage of out of control hot air balloon contraptions slamming into trees.
posted by srboisvert at 1:47 AM on March 27, 2007


Hang on... the US version doesn't have David Attenborough??????

It's not like he's unknown in the US. I grew up watching Life On Earth and such on PBS. So why replace him? Just curious.
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:49 AM on March 27, 2007


tom shales at wapo suggests that the nutjobs at discovery went with sigourney weaver as narrator because of her reputation as a conservationist.

By the way, i forgot to include the top 15 things you didn't know about 'planet earth' - including the fact that production was delayed for an entire year because of the hunt for bin laden.
posted by phaedon at 1:58 AM on March 27, 2007


shooting in total darkness,

Paris Hilton was on to that shit years ago.
posted by The God Complex at 2:20 AM on March 27, 2007


(Or so I've been told)
posted by The God Complex at 2:27 AM on March 27, 2007


discovery went with sigourney weaver as narrator because of her reputation as a conservationist

Jesus Christ. Actually I'd probably have used Drew Barrymore or Cameron Diaz who've both said a few green things. Weaver's a bit high-brow, you know.
posted by rhymer at 2:44 AM on March 27, 2007


Every one of these episodes is breathtaking. When I first read the write-up a year or so ago, I thought "meh, I've seen penguins and elephants and whales on nature docs before." But it turned out I hadn't.

If you can watch it in HD, it'll be worth the price of the HDTV.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:44 AM on March 27, 2007


I just watched the first 3 episodes on Sunday. The footage is awesome, but I thought the narration was not on the same par as the visuals. I wish they would have kept the David Attenborough narration for the US.
posted by mach at 3:49 AM on March 27, 2007


I was chatting to one of the producers for this recently (I work on the same site) - the idea is that "Planet Earth" is the apotheosis of the nature doc, the last great series where they will mostly ignore humanity's influence. In the pipeline (apparently) is a similarily ambitious series of docs that'll look at how we're interacting with and changing the earth. I think the idea is that it'll be kicked off with the "Live Earth" concerts coming up this summer. (Of which much more anon, no doubt.)
posted by Luddite at 4:42 AM on March 27, 2007


When I heard David Attenborough was replaced with Ripley it made me want to throw a macaque in the sea. However, it's more reasonable when you understand that he wasn't actually involved in producing the show, beyond narration.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:22 AM on March 27, 2007


Saw these in the UK a while back - absolutely incredible visuals & sequences, some of the best wildlife photography I have ever seen. Watch it!

One of my favourite bits was a time lapse sequence showing big starfish chasing smaller brittle stars (i think) over the ocean floor. And the slowmotion shark attacks are great. Attenborough still does the business - shame you won't have him in the states.
posted by algreer at 5:25 AM on March 27, 2007


I've only watched the first of the three episodes so far and the narration is intrusive.

Instead of just noting that the six-plumed bird of paradise's mating dance is an insane spectacle and then letting us watch, they actually interject during the mating dance with things like: "Nice moves!"

Despite all this, the views offered are simply breathtaking. My wife noted at various points during the program that I was staring with such unblinking intensity as to disturb her.
posted by unsupervised at 5:26 AM on March 27, 2007


Weaver: Just tell me one thing. You're going out there to destroy them, right? Not to study. Not to bring back. But to wipe them out.
Discovery Channel exec: That's the plan. You have my word on that.
Weaver: All right, I'm in.
Discovery Channel exec: We nuke them from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

posted by thirteenkiller at 5:30 AM on March 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


the narration is intrusive.

That's always the case in these things, stunningly beautiful visuals or not. It's the nature film version of the fake news anchor voice. Who decided that casual speaking wasn't good enough for this kind of stuff? It's a dumb editorial choice, one that undermines the beauty of the footage by implying that it needs over-pompous narration to give it weight. But thanks for this, phaedon; that first snow leopard chase was fantastic, and I'll get the DVDs from Netflix.

Btw, Sigourney's "This is unnatural for baboons - walking upright" crack is hilariously unfortunate. "Unnatural?" Could you have chosen a *less* accurate word?
posted by mediareport at 6:13 AM on March 27, 2007


Ah, that's Sir David Attenborough (previously here and here.)

This FPP would have been just fine without the 'Fun Fact' link.
posted by cenoxo at 6:21 AM on March 27, 2007


I did not find the narration intrusive at all. In fact, I found it simple to competely ignore. After the two episodes I watched on Sunday, my jaw was on the floor. All I could say was "holy mother of sweating jesus that was amazing". Particularly the zoom into the bears digging in the rubble from, where...space? How the fuck did they do that zoom? How did they get a camera boom in front of the Panda cave? The snow leopard footage, particularly at the end, was some of the best visuals I've ever seen on either TV or film.

Oh..I have HD, so maybe that helps explain my reaction. On HD it's like the animals are sitting in your living room. The Panda looked so real I thought it was a guy in a Panda suit.
posted by spicynuts at 6:26 AM on March 27, 2007


All this praise for Attenborough and not one mention of his greatest contribution to civilisation: The BBC2 Rugby League Floodlit Trophy competition.

It's a bloody disgrace!
posted by vbfg at 6:28 AM on March 27, 2007


I was ready when it came on. Didn't move for 2 hours. I will watch all of them and probably buy the DVD's. My kids really enjoyed the program. I figure by the time I've seen all of the episodes, my wife will probably have left me.

(as a side note, she HATES The Discovery Channel shows. I like them because I can watch some or all and not feel like I've missed something. I can run in, watch a bit then go back to doing the yardwork. Plus, it will air again shortly.)
posted by winks007 at 6:39 AM on March 27, 2007


"the narration is intrusive.

That's always the case in these things, stunningly beautiful visuals or not. It's the nature film version of the fake news anchor voice."

That's why us Brits are making such a big deal about Sir David Attenborough. His narration never fails to enhance the visuals.
posted by simonw at 6:51 AM on March 27, 2007


That super slo-mo seal-seeking shark missile is just all sorts of bananas.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:14 AM on March 27, 2007


Especially since it took 28 days plus of filming on a tiny boat to get those shots.

I think I'd go mad waiting as long as some of these photographers did.
posted by smackfu at 7:24 AM on March 27, 2007


Holy crap the narration is dreadful.

And that bird of paradise cop'd my moves!
posted by dobbs at 7:28 AM on March 27, 2007


This is the only reason I have ever desired an HDTV...

I also found the narration easy enough to ignore, although I really would have appreciated the classic tone Attenborough could have added...

Nothing quite like their time lapse shots of fruiting mushrooms... gorgeous!
posted by prostyle at 7:39 AM on March 27, 2007


'Fruiting Mushrooms' is now my number-one choice for a band name, if I were to start one today.
posted by grubi at 7:48 AM on March 27, 2007


Thanks for the heads up-- I just put this on my To-Do list.

It isn't just Brits who adore Attenborough, I am a huge, swoony fan. When I was a teenager, he was my ideal man and I now note that he is considered the most widely traveled man on Earth ever. What a stunning life he has had.

I still consider Life on Earth to be in the top 5 television series ever produced and may curses rain down upon the head of the exec at BBC who decided that there was no market for this on DVD in America. In fact The Life Collection of David Attenborough (along with a universal DVD player) is my dream present extraordinaire. It contains several series that were never released on DVD in the US such as The Secret Life of Plants and Trials of Life.

He has a series on reptiles that will be coming out next year entitled Life in Cold Blood. when he will be 82 years old. I can't wait! And those jackasses who decide such things better not try to pawn some inferior narrator off on us Yanks.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:11 AM on March 27, 2007


The narration is fine. The music sucks. Sometimes it pumps up the dramatic scenes in a very tawdry / Disney way. I looped the first five of these shows as background during a party & they work great with better music. They were a little bit distracting though. I had to punch people... hey stop watching TV, mingle.
posted by Wood at 8:27 AM on March 27, 2007


Gravy - I also am swooning in anticipation of Cold Blood. Attenborough + Komodo Dragon = the greatest. Also, somewhere at Discovery is an executive who needs a vicious beating. Luckily, my roommate was so outraged over the change in narration that he's buying the DA-narrated version.
posted by taliaferro at 8:31 AM on March 27, 2007


Is this the same crew that made The Blue Planet?
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 8:46 AM on March 27, 2007


That's why us Brits are making such a big deal about Sir David Attenborough.

Eh. It's the overblown writing of the narration that bothers me, and Attenborough's right up there in that category. His accomplishments are many, but I wouldn't count unobtrusive narration among them.
posted by mediareport at 9:18 AM on March 27, 2007


I looped the first five of these shows as background during a party & they work great with better music.>/i>

Wow this is exactly what I was thinking of doing while watching. I was like "I can't wait to get this on DVD and just have it on in the background, sound off, during a party".

posted by spicynuts at 9:18 AM on March 27, 2007


man, david attenborough tv shows are phenomenal, and his narration is tender and full of wonder. I think I'm just going to go download his planet earth, instead.

oh, and that was THE STRANGEST MORE INSIDE TO A POST I'VE EVER SEEN, PHAEDON. but really really funny.
posted by shmegegge at 9:23 AM on March 27, 2007


_sirmissalot_: Yes
posted by patricio at 9:32 AM on March 27, 2007


Well I grew up with "Life on Earth" ("Life on Earth is brought to you by a grant from Mobile" "Really?") and I too wish it were available here on DVD, but for my son (and me) I've picked up The Life of Mammals, The Life of Birds and Blue Planet which provide a nice Attenborough fix. I also see that the Attenborough version of Planet Earth is available for those who want to ditch Ripley (as I would).

Having said that, I watched the snow leopards last night with Sigourney and then again just now on YouTube with Sir David and the narration text appears to be exactly the same, so there won't be any of the great informational content that was the hallmark of the Life series.

Can't wait for the reptiles!
posted by The Bellman at 11:05 AM on March 27, 2007


I watched 2 episodes last night... amazing stuff.

Did anyone catch the GALAPAGOS special on National Geographic Channel last weekend? I think a 4-part series, but not quite as intense as this feature.

God I wish I had an HDTV.
posted by blastrid at 11:25 AM on March 27, 2007


Did anyone catch the GALAPAGOS special on National Geographic Channel last weekend?

I had a season pass but after watching 20 minutes of the first episode I deleted the rest. Just boring as hell-- mainly due to the dull, insipid narration.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:33 AM on March 27, 2007


There was narration? Music?

We were jaw-dropped astonished during the Deep Oceans segments where the school of bait fish are covering the whale shark like a coat...and when the shearwaters come plunging out of the sky, 60 feet into the water, to eat the fish. (It's the only episode we've watched so far, and I'm sure there are more "holy shit!" moments - hours? - to come.

(Also - the part about the vampire squid. I mean, wow.)

I've been going around the office today, practically grabbing coworkers by their lapels and ordering them to watch this series. Can't stop talking about it. And I really want the DVDs...
posted by rtha at 12:35 PM on March 27, 2007


Inside the secretive plan to gut the Endangered Species Act: Proposed regulatory changes, obtained by Salon, would destroy the "safety net for animals and plants on the brink of extinction," say environmentalists.
posted by homunculus at 1:27 PM on March 27, 2007


I had a season pass but after watching 20 minutes of the first episode I deleted the rest. Just boring as hell-- mainly due to the dull, insipid narration.

National Geographic docs have really disappointed me lately. The material is good but the narration might as well be a text to speach engine for its horrible monotonous blandness. I can just hear the director saying "OK..now let's try that again but with less life"
posted by srboisvert at 2:13 PM on March 27, 2007


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