Each of us has at least once dreamt of viewing the world from the bird´s eye perspective. The revolutionary film Earthflight made by the masters of the documentary from BBC will take your breath away with its artful 3D footage. Along with the director and ornithologist John Downer, you will join the migratory birds in their fascinating journey across five continents.
The latest technology and ultralight cameras will allow you to mount an eagle or wild goose. You will experience what it looks like to be the hunter and its prey. The brilliant camerawork in Earthflight 3D is combined with a compelling story and engrossing commentary that will captivate even the young viewers.
At the end of the 1980s, the ornithologist and independent producer John Downer made a film called In-flight Movie. It stood as one of the technologically most influential wildlife documentaries at the beginning of this author’s creative journey that lead to Earthflight 3D.
In recent years, BBC has found a new way to make the classic genre of wild-life documentaries more attractive and as a part of the popularisation of the topic, it targets the younger audiences. The examples such as Tiny Giants from 2014 and last year’s Incredible Predators are related by the 3D perspective and the viewer-friendly length of around 40 minutes. John Downer’s latest attempt for the most faithful depiction of the bird’s life (and flight) – Earthflight 3D falls in a similar category.
Downer has been perfecting the technical capabilities on how to capture the flight on camera and the way of working with the flying protagonists since the above-mentioned In-flight Movie. In 2011, when BBC began its series Earthflight, the technical conception was not the only key aspect of the show. The filmmakers were naturally using drones, airplanes or gliders; however, the most important footage was acquired using the micro cameras attached to the birds themselves. Downer developed a method allowing him to get close to the individual birds – right after hatching, he matched them with “adoptive” human parents to whom they formed an attachment and followed them everywhere.
This already unique concept used as the basis for the series following several bird species across all continents Downer developed even further in the form of the Earthflight 3D. This three-dimensional motion picture from 2016 provides the audience with an experience of bird flight projected on the large screen. The journey which began in 1988 with In-flight Movie came to a close (at least for now) almost thirty years later. Downer offers the most authentic 3D feeling from the flight on the large screen to a wider public. It’s hard to say if we can ever get even closer to our feathered friends than this. Anyway, let’s wait if John Downer will be able to further develop his method in the upcoming years.
Author: Tomáš Poštulka, Robert Jaworek
Editor: Nikol Láryšová