At a premiere for the seven-part spectacular in London’s Leicester Square earlier this month, Seven Worlds, One Planet’s producers were keen to emphasize the powerful impact that drones had on the footage they were able to obtain.
Co-produced by BBC America, where it will premiere in 2020, the series features stunning sequences from the sky, as drones traversed volcanoes and dived into underground caves. The first episode, Antarctica, features a scene in which a gentoo penguin tries to escape a pod of orcas, and the unique drone vantage means it’s as dramatic as a white-knuckle car chase in an action movie.
In another sequence, aerial cameras were able to capture 150 great whales feasting on krill off the coast of Elephant Island in one of the biggest feeding frenzies ever filmed. The footage is now being used to inform a scientific study.
During a Q&A following the screening, executive producer Jonny Keeling said: “There’s some incredible shots that you couldn’t really get from a helicopter, you can only get them from drones, and that was something that we wanted to bring to it.”
Series producer Scott Alexander went further, revealing that they provide Seven Worlds, One Planet’s “signature look,” adding: “It gives you a perspective you wouldn’t normally get. It brings a new look.”
He explained: “I was determined we were going to use drones wherever we could and take them wherever we could. The technology has come on leaps and bounds, they fly for longer, they fly further, they’re quieter, the camera technology on them is 4K. The greatest thing is they’re so small, so you can stick them in a rucksack, put them on your back and you can take them with you anywhere. We took them down underground caves, over volcanoes, in forests.”
Seven Worlds, One Planet is narrated by Sir David Attenborough, the great British naturalist who is now 93 years old. There is a strong conservationist theme running through the series, which Attenborough unapologetically leads from the front.
In the Antarctica episode, we see the effects of the climate emergency on grey-headed albatrosses in intimate scenes, while viewers are also shown how humans butchered great whales nearly to the point of extinction at the South Pole, but after new whaling laws, the population is recovering.
Attenborough said every one of the episodes has “one or two sequences that take my breath away and have never been seen before.”