Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fearless Planet Shows

Just received the press release on Fearless Planet, the series I've been working on for the last two plus months. The series was insane to work on, definitely one of the biggest challenges of my life. Thanks to every single person who worked on it with me, without so many good people working so hard the experience could have been a disaster but was instead something magical. I have never done so many "stunts" in such a short period of time in so many places around the world. I can't wait to watch the final cuts!

Here's the press release.

"On November 11 at 10 PM (ET/PT), following PLANET EARTH, viewers can catch the debut of Discovery Channel’s new adrenaline-filled six-part series FEARLESS PLANET, a thrill ride through the earth’s most awesome natural wonders, taking extreme filmmaking to a whole new level. Viewers join world paragliding record holder and renowned extreme sportsman Will Gadd as he journeys to some of the most amazing locations in the world – Alaska, the Sahara, Hawaii, the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon – to understand how these stunning formations were created. The series uses cutting-edge photo-real computer graphics to bring to life the geological processes that created these natural wonders.

“PLANET EARTH and FEARLESS PLANET are natural history for the 21st century,” says Discovery Channel Executive Vice President and General Manager Jane Root. “Viewers journey to the far reaches of the earth, where they discover new animals, new landscapes and all new worlds. And with revolutionary film techniques, these spectacular places are closer than ever before.”

FEARLESS PLANET – Episode Guide:
Episode One – Hawaii
Sunday, November 11, 10 PM (ET/PT)
How does a mountain shape the perfect surfing wave? What creates a paradise—yet also destroys it? And how could an island wipe out a metropolis an ocean away?

To get at the truth behind these questions, Will Gadd takes to the air in his paraglider for a unique perspective on paradise. But climbing a 40-foot waterfall, diving in a mysterious undersea tunnel and mountain biking through 10 of the world’s 13 climate zones on one mountain isn’t enough. With the help of geologist Lloyd French, Gadd is able to discover with the astonishing natural forces at work just below the surface. Using the skills of super surfer Kaleo Amadeo, Gadd finds what processes turned the tiny patch of real estate into the greatest surfing paradise on earth. Diving beneath the waters of the Pacific, Gadd discovers how the islands are formed.
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FOR THE FIRST TIME: In an epic sea kayaking adventure, Gadd uncovers new evidence showing the processes that created one of the islands. This leads to a compelling insight into the death of the islands and the very real dangers this could hold for cities as far away as Los Angeles.

Episode Two – Alaska
Sunday, November 18, 10 PM (ET/PT)
What makes Alaska the last great wilderness on earth? Why is it the best place to see the northern lights, and why are the mountains full of sea creatures?

Skiing from the peak of Mt. Muir, paragliding to the top of a glacier, ice climbing into a moving ice crevasse, kayaking down a dangerous melt stream and climbing an iceberg, extreme adventurer Will Gadd takes all Alaska can throw at him. He discovers where the iconic Alaskan mountain ranges come from and why they look the way they do. With help from experts Professor Peter Haussler and Dr. Tom Douglas and extreme skier Lel Tome, Gadd goes back hundreds of millions of years to uncover how the massive mountains – and the state itself – were formed. Deep inside a glacier he comes to grips with how these massive giants carved the landscape and looks into the future of this epic landscape illuminated by the awe-inspiring northern lights.

FOR THE FIRST TIME: Follow an extreme skier as she takes on Alaska’s most active volcano. And for the first time, photo-real CGI shows you the hidden processes that shaped this awesome landscape.

Episode Three – Sahara
Sunday, November 25, 10 PM (ET/PT)
Where would you find the biggest dinosaur ever? The oldest glass in the world? A cave so precious it changed history? In the same place where you can fly forever, ski at 58 degrees centigrade and drink million-year-old water.

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The Sahara Desert provides unique challenges. Rock climbing in the extreme heat with geologist Matt Genge, Will Gadd discovers the ancient history of a lost superdesert. While Matt Genge and palaeontologist Matt Lamanna explore the eastern side of the Sahara, Gadd’s journey takes him south, deep into the western side. Between them, they discover a world of deserts, savannahs and oceans, and Gadd uses the extreme heat to try and reach the Holy Grail of paragliding—never-ending lift. He finds a new way to cross the oceans of sand and discovers what happened to the lost waters that once made this ultradry world a lush, beautiful land.

FOR THE FIRST TIME: An exclusive view of 12,000-year-old cave paintings previously seen by only handful of people in the world. We uncover previously unseen evidence of a massive meteorite strike. It is now estimated that the rock that slammed into the Sahara was half a mile wide.

Episode Four – The Great Barrier Reef
Sunday, December 2, 10 PM (ET/PT)
How can the biggest living thing on the planet survive almost anything? How did it get to be so big? And who really is the biggest killer on the reef?

Diving with angry sharks, riding Australia’s biggest ocean current, flying over the volcanoes that helped create the reef and witnessing how the reef makes an island. Working with geologists and marine biologists, extreme adventurer Will Gadd gets up close and personal with the largest living thing on the planet (the only one you can see from space) – the Great Barrier Reef. The story of what makes this place the perfect location for the largest reef in the world takes Gadd far inland in search of clues to Australia’s mysterious past. This is the hidden story of a world that has died and been resurrected many times, and it takes Gadd on an incredible voyage above and beneath the waves of Australia’s eastern seaboard.

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FOR THE FIRST TIME: It has long been known that the remains of a much older reef are buried beneath today’s Great Barrier. But just how old is it? The mission: to get a piece. Scuba diving to depths of 190 feet, the team retrieved a rare piece of that ancient reef. This was a first – scientists can now date that forgotten ancestor—12,000 years old.

Episode Five – The Grand Canyon
Sunday, December 9, 10 PM (ET/PT)
How did the Grand Canyon get so deep? What are the secrets revealed in its mile-high walls, and what makes a world-class white-water rapid?

Will Gadd climbs a sheer 400-foot pinnacle to see what the birth of the Grand Canyon looked like 70 million years ago. He reveals the hidden worlds buried in the layers of rock in the canyon’s walls. From deserts to oceans to tropical forests, it’s all there as you go down. When he reaches the bottom, one mile down, he goes white-water kayaking down the canyon’s interior to see exactly how those famous rapids are made. And just beneath the water line he reaches the bottom of the Grand Canyon. He discovers America’s basement, a layer of dense black rock the United States is built on. This is the story of lost mountains, epic adventurers and gigantic volcanoes that have shaped one of the most iconic natural wonders in the world.

FOR THE FIRST TIME: In the biggest, most dangerous stunt of the series, Gadd flies across the Grand Canyon using just the power of the massive thermal lift generated by the intense temperatures formed deep within the canyon.

Episode Six – Earth Story
Sunday, December 16, 10 PM (ET/PT)
What forces created our Earth? What do the Grand Canyon, the world’s tallest waterfall and the Sahara have in common? What is a hot spot, and how did it make Hawaii and the Great Barrier Reef? And what does it really take to move a mountain?
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The world’s great natural wonders are works in progress. Getting up close and personal with them gives adventurer Will Gadd and scientists from around the world unique insights into the colossal forces that created the whole planet. This is big geology, and Gadd’s unique skills make him best suited to reach the rocks science needs in order to tell this epic story. Written in folds of the northern lights above Alaska a clue to the formation of the planet is uncovered. On the island of Hawaii Gadd sees the processes that created the continents, and in the Grand Canyon he experiences the power of water. In Australia’s Great Barrier Reef he discovers how continents move and how erosion created the perfect stage for the world’s tallest waterfall.

FOR THE FIRST TIME: A unique all-action view of how the world was created, told through its most iconic natural wonders and the eyes of its most extreme athlete.

A high-definition format was needed with incredible contrast and color rendition comparable to film but with the ability to adapt to the extreme conditions and stunts. For this reason the series was primarily shot with Panasonic AJ-HDC27 VariCam® HD Cinema cameras. As well as its incredible resolution, the camera has astounding rendition at higher ISO speeds and its 640 sensitivity helped create a gritty, visual canvas for the stunt sequences. To achieve this, Discovery Channel filmed the action with an average of six cameras from the air, under water and in specially designed mounts that were attached to Will Gadd. To enhance this immersive concept, the shooting style mixed shutter speeds and slow motion. The 45-degree shutter was used to further augment the speed of the action.

A special thanks to Will Aslett, series producer, who got me the job, and David Warren, the only person to do all five shows. We survived it mang!


Anonymous said...

I mean this entirely in jest, as this show does sound cool and I know you have worked wicked hard on it, but man... Press Releases make me laugh.

There's just something so transparently artificial about them. The way they try to describe your experiences as if they were not exquisitely planned photo shoots. As if you were actually the first person to "discover" these things and that in order to do so you simply HAD to use a paraglider.

I almost imagine a bunch of scientists sitting around one day and,

Scientist #1: "Man, I wish I knew how these wave things worked, but even with all our modern technology we simply can't do it."

Scientist #2: "If only we had a world-class athlete who had some means of flying above the waves, then we'd be getting somewhere!"

Scientist #1: "Yes! And what about if we also had someone with extensive experience riding a floaty bit of wood on top of the waves?"

Scientist #2: "By god, you're right! He would be a tremendous asset! Quick, to the phone!"
"And for the love of god man, make sure they bring a camera crew!"

Anonymous said...

Mr Anonymous. It all maybe in jest but get a life. At least this fine gentleman Will is out there doing this for others to enjoy watching. I would mind beting you will also .

Anonymous said...

Anything that makes people appreciate and value the natural world is a good thing. If it takes a little drama to catch their attention, then so be it--not many folks are inclined to wade through the "real science" of Scientific American. Will is giving his audience a good time, and they're probably learning a little something along the way. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Anonymous said...

anonymous #1 here:

I probably am going to watch it, I would like to do it, and I do think it's a good deal.

I still think that Press releases written by marketing people are silly though. I've read a lot of them and they've never convinced me to do or purchase anything. Generally they seem transparently false and inauthentic.

This is not a crack at Will or the program or the production team and the hard work they did. It's a crack at the PR person working for the Discovery Channel. In my eyes, they took something cool and made it sound dumb.

ozzy said...

Anonymous1 New you would watch it. So dont compain. You go and try something like this rather than just sitting back and having a go at others. Go Will you a ledgend.

ozzy said...

Anonymous1 New you would watch it. So dont compain. You go and try something like this rather than just sitting back and having a go at others. Go Will you a ledgend.

Will Gadd said...

Anon actually has a point, press releases are always a bit, ah, over the top, and ya gotta admit it's a funny post, made me laugh so all good. Thanks for the words of support too. I'm totally on edge about how this series is going to look, I know we all worked really hard on it but it's a big leap from the field to the TV screen. I'll be on a flight to England when it airs so hopefully someone will post a review!



David said...

I'm really disappointed in this show. I know computer graphics and animation are expensive, and maybe this is the only way to get young folks to watch a "science" show, but it's just way too light on the science for my taste.

Take the scene I just watched, for instance. We hear about erosion on Oahu. Will heads into the bay to look for "evidence of missing land." We get to see him kayaking across the ocean, while the narrator tells us how dangerous it is. He's looking for signs that there was once a volcano there. He finds some "interesting crystals" in the rock wall. We never get to see the crystals, or learn anything about what they tell him and why. We learn that the scientist dude has "educated him about what to look for." How about educating US? All we get is a lot of paddling and waves, and we see him looking at crystals. Ten minutes of activity to inform us that there's evidence that there was probably a piece of Oahu which isn't here any longer, which was probably a volcano.

This isn't a science show, it's a travel show. I'm sure if I was a kayaker looking for an interesting sea cave to explore, this would be fascinating, but that's not why I tune in to Discovery. I don't generally watch shows that are 80% climbing, paddling, swimming, but I hope the people who do like those kind of shows learn a little something. To me, it looks like a way to get somebody else to pay for your adventure -- "Can you believe we're doing what we enjoy, and getting paid for it?"

It looks like fun, but not very educational. Having it framed by "Planet Earth" just underscores how little it's about geology, and how much it's about a guy doing sports stuff.

tim said...

I'm sorry but this show is ridiculous and a huge disappointment. Will Gadd, diving..."omg I think I am in a cave of some sort, oh no, it is actually a lava tube..." DUH! How set up is this scene? This is Geology for Idiots!

Will Gadd said...

Wow. Tough reviews, but I asked for 'em, thanks. I hope to see the final show myself soon.


Adil Sidki said...

hi will, that was one awesome show. my girl friend was freaking out when you were in the kayak in the cave. she kept telling you (via tv) to get out of the cave :))). cant wait to see the next one in AK.

i guess i see point from other ppl reviews. my background is in computer science, 0 in geology theory and i learned a lot. a lot more fun to watch than PBS(hehe). and i know i can say same for my friends who watched it at my place. all of whom were students at umaine. we all learned/know the basic stuff but to see it so nicely makes me want to pickup a book (when im not ice climb) this winter and read more in depth about it.


Anonymous said...

It's not listed on the Canadian Discovery Channel, and didn't come on the TV last Sunday. Major bummer! If someone has been able to see the show in Canada, please post how you were able to see it. Thanks!

Lloyd said...

Hey Will, you look great. The segment was fun and exciting. The CG elements brought to life some of the basic geologic phenomenae around the islands.

Fearless Planet does take a different spin making the geologic island dynamics very entertaining. The original theme had a different structure and would have taken a deeper science focus. Yet, there is enough information in Fearless Planet to pique people's interests of what is happening around the islands.

Let's face it. The science of geology is a long slow process over thousands of years. The typical person would not have the patience of a tree to study a rock.

Fearless Planet at least compresses the time scale to make geology understandable to the masses.

I believe the issue was another production house developed a similar Discovery science segment involving tsunamis from major island landslides. It was good, but would have maybe stolen some thunder from the original segment plan, so they must have spun up Fearless Planet as an alternative.

I hope the people watching were able to gain something interesting from the show. A key idea is the islands are kind of a "paradise lost". The islands rise from the ocean floor to become these emerald jewels of the Pacific and, in time, slide away down to the deep blue. What "comes" from the sea, must go "back" to the sea. Nature has many cycles and this is just another one.

Well, it was fun being apart of the team up Will.

take it slow.


Linda said...

I minored in geology in college, worked in the geology dept. at Cal State U. Long Beach, and learned a lot. I graduated in 1971, so am an old lady now, but I never lost my enthusiasm for geology. I took a Historical Geology class last year for fun. It's amazing how much scientists have learned since I was in school. I just saw the episode on the Sahara tonight, and guess I will be a lifelong learner as I look forward to the rest of the episodes. I also enjoyed Miracle Planet!

Mike Airhart said...

I love the show -- spectacular photography (!), dramatic narration, and despite my lifelong fascination with earth sciences, I'm learning new things now and then. In particular, most of the info about the Sahara was new to me.

Who narrated the program?

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm...what can i say?? Not much really - this show is total CRAP!

Anonymous said...

Just saw the Alaska segment and I want to just shoot that friken narrator. I mean we are not talking Alan Alda here. Why call it fearless planet when the narrator is trying to scare the crap out of you with never ending gloom of melting ice ,toppling icebergs,imminent avalanche blah blah blah interjected with some real interesting bits of science. Will Gadd all props to you I am a former climber and have a lot of respect for pro's like you. Had a good laugh watchin' that bumbler geologist almost fall in that crevasse! I live in Juneau Ak and often ski right up to the glacier about two miles from my house.I will watch more shows because you are a stud dude but I the hollywoood narration OMG!!!

Anonymous said...

Who is the narrator? I c a n think of his name....