Monthly Archives: May 2016

CuriosityStream Debuts David Attenborough’s Light On Earth

Memorial Day weekend ushers in the summer season and the time outdoors that comes with it. As you enjoy getting out in nature this summer, CuriosityStream’s nonfiction documentaries will be there to help guide you.  Whether you prefer chilling at the beach, hiking and camping in national parks or simply spending an afternoon in your own backyard, there are always opportunities to reconnect with your natural surroundings and appreciate the breadth and depth of Earth’s wonders.

Perhaps along your summer journeys, you too will have questions.  Why does a firefly light up at dusk?  How does a millipede benefit from its own nighttime luminescence?  What causes those radiant, nocturnal tides in tropical waters?

These questions and more are explored in CuriosityStream’s exclusive debut of David Attenborough’s Light On Earth (available to U.S. subscribers).  This special 4K production utilizes new camera techniques to capture never-before-seen footage of bioluminescent phenomena, guided by the world’s foremost naturalist, Sir David Attenborough.

“In the oceans, and on land, living creatures of many kinds have harnessed the power of light in extraordinary ways: to mate, to lie or even to hide under a cloak of light. Yet with the latest cameras and technology we are only beginning to understand the lives of luminous creatures. There remain many mysteries. But what a beautiful world they create… and what a beautiful world awaits the scientists of the future.”  — Sir David Attenborough

The film represents the first collaboration between CuriosityStream’s in-house production studio and Terra Mater Studios (David Attenborough’s production partners). However, it is not the first association between CuriosityStream’s founder, John Hendricks, and Sir David Attenborough.

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Elizabeth Hendricks North & Sir David Attenborough, Smithsonian, May 2015

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Attenborough and hearing him reminisce about co-productions years ago between BBC and Discovery Communications, which my father, John Hendricks, also founded and led as Board Chairman until 2014.  The legendary British naturalist is as lively and curious as anyone I have ever met, and his animated story-telling had us all rapt.  Attenborough’s energy and enthusiasm is boundless, as you will see for yourself in Light On Earth.

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This bioluminescent mushroom emits light 24 hours a day, but is captured like never before using brand new camera techniques in CuriosityStream’s Light On Earth.

 

It is my hope that this film (and future wildlife films) continue to inspire wonder about the planet and engage the next generation of naturalists.  As David Attenborough’s Light On Earth magnificently conveys to viewers, we live on a planet with many mysteries waiting to be uncovered and better understood.

 

 

 

Let your curiosity guide you this summer.

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Elizabeth Hendricks North is President and CEO of CuriosityStream. Follow her on Twitter @ehendricksnorth.

 

Watch a preview of Light On Earth :



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Notes from the Filmmaker: American Wildlife

Mark Emery is the award-winning filmmaker behind CuriosityStream’s newest original 4K series, American Wildlife.  Emery is an in-demand wildlife and nature cinematographer and photographer, whose films and photographs have been showcased around the world. American Wildlife can be seen exclusively on CuriosityStream in ultra high definition 4K, as well as HD and standard definition.

In the fall of 2015, I heard CuriosityStream producer Jorge Franzini speak at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival about an intriguing idea – films for folks of all ages who like to be entertained but also like to learn, a kind of Netflix for the curious soul.  I have been working on films for many of the natural history companies for years. Though the formula for these shows can be entertaining, I was looking for a change. Steve Burns, the Chief Programming Officer for CuriosityStream, and Franzini worked with me to develop American Wildlife – the original short format pieces that you can see exclusively on CuriosityStream right now.

I worked with young editors, one who had created and edited the music videos for some of the best rock groups in the country. My long time friend, arranger and composer Tracy Collins, and I wrote the music and we were off and running. There is a wonderful freedom to this format. For one, the films are not edited for television, so there are no false build ups heading into commercials to make you come back, no repeating information after a commercial break – tricks that drive us all a little batty. You just build the story around the best footage and score the music to the rhythm of the animals’ movements.

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On the range

As for the narration, the team at CuriosityStream did not want the “Voice of God” narration found in so many shows. I am quite sure there is a God and I am quite sure it is not me, so that was not a problem! I just talked about the footage, somewhat like a director’s cut. I am not a scientist, not a biologist, herpetologist, or ichthyologist. Actually, I am a Presbyterian and not even very good at that, so the stories are reported in layman terms, the way I would explain these subjects to family and friends.

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Getting up close and personal

I also persuaded, through the extensive use of smoked salmon, Bruce Swedien to record some of the audio. Bruce is one of the premier recording engineers in the world with five Grammys and many more nominations. Bruce engineered Thriller for Michael Jackson, he’s worked with Paul McCartney, Duke Ellington, jazz greats Oscar Peterson and Herbie Hancock, he’s done 14 albums for Quincy Jones, the score for The Whiz and The Color Purple, and so many more.

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Mark and Mary’s adventures

We are amping up to do more as we continue to learn what we can do with this format. Many thanks to Steve Burns and Jorge Franzini for the excellent coaching and encouragement.  Now, I am off with my wife Mary to spend five months in bush Alaska, 300 miles from the nearest connecting road, to find more stories and catch more salmon to smoke for Bruce!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Behind The Scenes: Notes From The Filmmaker

Award-winning filmmaker David Conover is the founder of Compass Light Productions, and the executive producer and director of CuriosityStream’s Big Picture Earth.  He was born and raised in a New England family with strong ties to the sea and a tradition of active storytelling. Now in its 29th year, Compass Light has a commitment to content revealing the wonder of the outdoors and the ocean, and has produced over 600 award-winning productions that have aired around the world.

November, 2014.   Ecstatic that Elizabeth Hendricks North has included us in her worldwide search for filmmakers to produce original content for CuriosityStream.  Her EVP of Production & Acquisition Steve Burns was a big supporter of my series Sunrise Earth when he was at Discovery Communications with founder and visionary John Hendricks.  Now… what kind of original global series can we make for curious people like us, some of whom have those 4K big picture televisions?  Hmm.  World class curiosity.

January, 2015.  Got it!  “A mindful and patient exploration of the big picture of time and the human role on the planet, from the wild to the structured back to the wild.”  We’ll visit beautiful wild places, but also ancient structures like Stonehenge, the Acropolis, the Nabataean lost city of Petra in Jordan.  These old structures of civilization were built with purpose.  Today –suspended between endurance and ruin – they are deep stories in their own right.  Could we create a distinctive approach for viewers to engage each story?  Let’s call the series “The Big Picture.”

February, 2015.  Our creative game plan is not there yet.  Elizabeth and Steve love the word “Earth” and wonder how we can include that word – and all it represents.  I’m an easy sell on that word.  They probably don’t know how many “Earths” already populate my life.  So now we have a real and final series title, “Big Picture Earth!”

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[photo: earth flag outside the Compass Light Production Barn in Maine]

 

 

March, 2015.  For our pilot, we head to a sea island in Georgia, home of a wild 17-mile-long beach and an abandoned castle-like structure named Dungeness, built by America’s mighty steel baron Andrew Carnegie.

conover 2Our very innovative series’ director of photography (DP) David Wright uses one of his gadgets for executing my key directive for Big Picture Earth…”the camera will NEVER stop moving.”  I love imagining I’m a sea crow stepping aside the sea foam that comes in with each wave.  Walt Whitman wrote about this in a poem that inspires my work.  [photo: shooting opening scene of episode “Cumberland Island”]

 

Shooting opening scene of episode “Cumberland Island”Series producer and 2nd camera Darryl Czuchra works his magic with stereo audio awaiting his favorite beverage, MOXIE. (p.s. Darryl also a drummer in an 80’s rock band).

 

 

June, 2015.  Now well into series production, the sun is rising and we’re taking shelter from the heat in a secret canyon.  Surprise (not really) there’s a city here.  We’ve found Petra, the lost desert city of the Nabataeans.

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Aerial maestro Dave Halton fires up his custom unmanned aerial rig, and like an aged swallow who once flew over the camel caravans carrying frankincense to the Roman Empire, we begin to soar – slowly.  Note DP David Wright’s latest overhead gyro-stabilizer he borrowed from Ghostbusters. [photo: shooting a scene of episode “Nabataean Lost Kingdom of Petra”]

 

 

 

 

 

Shooting a scene of episode “Desert of Wadi Rum”Last stop in Jordan is Wadi Rum.  I think you will recognize this evocative landscape if you were the one who chose to quietly paint hunting scenes on the cliff walls a few thousand years ago… or if you read the Bedouin exploits of T.E. Lawrence… or if you’ve just watched Matt Damon in “The Martian.” [photo shooting a scene of episode “Desert of Wadi Rum”]

Late June, 2015.  Closer to home, we reach even further back in time – well before our human role – to roam high on a ridge where a megalosaurus-type dinosaur walked 160 million years ago.  Far below and up a nearby canyon, more cliff paintings.  These are horses, which are viewable only on foot and reachable only at the speed of a patient walk.  I believe that a slow walk can access more of the big picture of our Earth than the fastest jet… (but after this year circling our earth, my crew might say that walking has its limits too!)  Back in our Compass Light barn in Maine, four editors begin to create the distinctive “time zone” for each episode.  Make yourself a cup of tea and prepare to slow down your hectic life.  And one last idea from CuriosityStream’s Steve Burns – give viewers a choice – a rich natural soundtrack on its own, or the natural soundtrack with music.  This is one of the exclusive beauties of video on demand!

My team and I are proud to add our contribution to the growing and spectacular lineup of programming on CuriosityStream.  There’s much to explore in this world!

Crew photo from location of episode “Colorado Canyons of Time,” with CuriosityStream’s Elizabeth Hendricks North in her other role as local dinosaur track guide.

 

[crew photo from location of episode “Colorado Canyons of Time,” with CuriosityStream’s Elizabeth Hendricks North in her other role as local dinosaur track guide.]

 

 

Big Picture Earth can be seen exclusively on CuriosityStream.  All 20 episodes are available now, in 4K as well as HD and standard definition.  Big Picture Earth leads CuriosityStream’s debut of Ultra HD 4K streaming content.  50 titles are available now, with 50 more in production.  CuriosityStream is on demand, always ad-free, and available worldwide.

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