Earth Unplugged
July 20, 2017 2:11 AM   Subscribe

BBC's Planet Earth II team has posted a series of HD "visual soundscapes" on YouTube, pieced together from leftover footage of some of the most beautiful and isolated places in the world. Ten hours of mountains; ten hours of jungle; ten hours of islands; ten hours of desert.
posted by Paragon (9 comments total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
 
(there's actually only half an hour of content in each video, playing on a loop, but it's still totally worth it)
posted by Paragon at 2:18 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


I love Planet Earth and all the Attenborough nature series, but I have a serious bone to pick with all the heavy handed foley work. There's no way they are getting the sounds they present, such as when a salamander licks its paws.

Some footage that my employer commissioned for a ski movie ended up being used in the Mountains section of Planet Earth 2. The audio used for the wind blowing off the peaks was completely different than the ones we used, and both omitted the sound of the helicopter which gathered the footage. If the audio is staged, then what else is contrived?

Regardless, it will be a treat running this on the big screen in the office today.
posted by furtive at 6:57 AM on July 20, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm usually on the crap end of this, as I do location sound for a living. In the series they're generally kind with the embellishments/replacements. However, these loops could be quite a bit better with the nat sound choices and levels from shot to shot.
posted by bigmike485 at 8:17 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


If the audio is staged, then what else is contrived?

Foley work in documentary is one of those dirty little secrets that a lot of people don't realize or appreciate. Planet Earth is notorious for having really heavy-handed foley sounds. But there's also cases like Olympic coverage, where they add a woooosh to the archery competition where the noise doesn't actually exist.
posted by thecjm at 9:09 AM on July 20, 2017


If the audio is staged, then what else is contrived?

I think the Planet Earth series, and BBC nature documentaries in general, have been pretty open about how much of their films are "real". After each episode they show a making-of featurette that explains how they got the footage. It wasn't for Planet Earth but another show (about life in the underbrush?) where they showed you what was basically a set they created for a mouse to run through, and how they composited other footage (of elephants, etc.) on top of it.

I think it's generally ok that they tell a narrative about nature as long as it is scientifically accurate, and I trust that they are.
posted by danny the boy at 10:12 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


But there's also cases like Olympic coverage, where they add a woooosh to the archery competition where the noise doesn't actually exist.

There's a radio documentary about this. Like how the rowing races have basically entirely foley created soundscapes.

I would rather that nature documentary ambient videoscapes have only natural sound, however. They obviously edited all this together to create these 10 hour loops, so they obviously made deliberate choices about the sound they would include.

Honeslty, I'd prefer the "slow TV" version of this kind of thing. Set up a camera, let it run for 10 hours, post that to YouTube.

c.f. Warhol's Empire. Although I don't even remember if that includes sound.

Surely there are live cams out in wild areas that provide an actual livestream of a place that hasn't been edited or foleyed.
posted by hippybear at 10:32 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


Paragon: "(there's actually only half an hour of content in each video, playing on a loop, but it's still totally worth it)"

I'm not so sure I agree. I converted the videos to MP3s and pulled them into Audacity -- I was going to trim it to your half-hour, then just loop when I played it. Looking at the waveform, the audio end of things does not appear to repeat every half-hour, i.e., the background noise does seem to be a full, randomized 10 hours. Those spikes are when the wind really picks up, but what happens immediately after them is randomized, not repeated.
posted by WCityMike at 3:57 PM on July 21, 2017


I'm not going to abuse the spirit of the editing window, so I'll just admit I'm so totally wrong. Looking closer at the waveform, I do see a half-hour-based pattern. Never mind.
posted by WCityMike at 3:59 PM on July 21, 2017


Two more have since been added:
Ten hours of grassland
Ten hours of the city
posted by Paragon at 2:17 PM on August 2, 2017


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