TV Pick of the Week: The making of Frozen Planet

Special cameras were used to record the underwater polar life. Photo / Supplied
Special cameras were used to record the underwater polar life. Photo / Supplied

For the past two months many of us have been transfixed by the high-rating Frozen Planet. The BBC-Discovery Channel co-production has gone to the icy ends of the Earth to film what - and who - lives there, and to look at the effects of climate change.

Now it's the show 'n' tell episode. Yes, there has been a spot of bother about the series with British newspapers screeching about the authenticity of scenes of the birth of a polar bear - the cub emerged into the world in captivity, not the wild.

And there was more controversy when the Discovery Channel initially held back the final global warming episode On Thin Ice in the series for its United States broadcast, fearing it would provoke the nation's climate-change skeptics.

But Frozen Planet remains a remarkable series, the equal of its epic BBC natural history forbears The Blue Planet (2001) and Planet Earth (2006).

If its tireless presenter Sir David Attenborough was thinking it was time to retire - he's 85 now, 84 when he went to the North then South Poles making him the oldest man to ever visit both places - then Frozen Planet would be a triumphant note on which to go out.

The US National Science Foundation, which has an Antarctic base where the production was based, wanted Attenborough to have extensive medical checks before venturing on to the ice in temperatures reaching -35C.

Attenborough's narration and some elegant pieces to camera - including magic moments alongside a tranquilised polar bear and, later, a passing penguin - helped connect the show to its natural history predecessors.

But Attenborough was the ideal frontman on the $30 million production with a big team of intrepid cinematographers using the latest in camera technology above and below the ice.

That ranged from the cineflex heligimbal, a gyro-stabilised camera mounted on a helicopter, plane or boat, which allows close-up photography from a long way away, so the noise won't disturb the animals, to a time-lapse filming system called a motion-control rig specially developed so the series could film seasonal polar changes.

The Making Of finale shows how those behind the cameras braved the ultra-chill to capture the footage which made Frozen Planet a TV landmark.

When: Tuesday, 8.30pm
Where: TV One
What: The story behind the amazing footage

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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