The Bachelor King 3D is the second David Attenborough 3D natural history documentary from Atlantic Productions and Sky 3D. Previewed during a reception of ice sculptures, fake snow and dry ice, the final cut had literally been completed just hours before its world premiere on December 14th. Post Frozen Planet polar bear row, producer Anthony Geffen also defended the use of featuring different penguins throughout the documentary.
Presenting the film was Flying Monsters 3D producer Anthony Geffen, David Attenborough, Head of Sky 3D John Cassy, Dermot Murnaghan and Head of Sky Factual Emma Read.
The Bachelor King 3D will air exclusively on Sky 3D on New Year’s Eve at 8pm before its worldwide theatrical release next year. Filmed over a five month period in the sub-Antartic island of South Georgia, the film, which follows the lives of King Penguins, was inspired by the work on Bafta-Award winning Flying Monsters 3D…
"While making Flying Monsters 3D, David and I became really excited about the power of 3D” said Anthony Geffen. “We started talking about other projects that might work brilliantly in 3D – and David thought of filming in South Georgia. This spectacular but little known sub-Antartic island is home to an amazing collection of wildlife including millions of penguins. 3D allows you to literally step inside the King Penguin’s world.”
John Cassy, Director, Sky 3D, added “Fascinating natural history programming such as this has the ability to bring households and families together in order to truly share the experience. Add to this the fact that audiences are enjoying the films in stunning 3D and you have even more reason why we continue to grow our pioneering offering our customers. We are as proud as Sir David and be able to deliver such advances in this genre of entertainment and look forward to our future with both David and Atlantic Productions”.
Speaking to 3D Focus Anthony Geffen said "It's got to that level of 3D that we call seamless. It's stopped this idea that one minute you are in a 3D world and one minute you are not. It's something we have been striving for and we can only really do it because we are dealing with one world; we go to one place and you are in that world with the penguins."
The Bachelor King 3D was technically challenging, especially as the South Georgia Islands take six days to travel to as illustrated by David Attenborough…
"When selecting a story, and having worked on Flying Monsters 3D I knew how bulky the equipment was. It takes four people to carry – it's very instrumental and it takes three quarters of an hour to change a lens; it's a murderous thing to have. I'm sure in months to come it's going to get smaller but it was not the type of equipment you want to use to try and catch some shy creature unawares. Fortunately, a penguin doesn't care too much about cameras so I thought South Georgia would be a good place to go."
Sky Head of Factual Emma Read said "I honestly don’t think we realised how difficult it was going to be. I think that naivety and sense of adventure can lead you to do very foolish things but sometimes you can make brilliant things and think that is what we have done for this." Read continued "A lot of the equipment was being testing out for the first time. The housing we used for the underwater sequences actually imploded the first time we put it down. On a normal shoot you can just call a courier so taking this equipment to that type of environment knowing we could not easily get a replacement was a bit of an act of madness."
David Attenborough spoke about the other key challenge of shooting natural history documentaries in 3D “At the moment, it is technically impossible to use a very long telephoto lens, the reason being a stereo camera has two lenses to mimic the human eyes, at the same separation as our own. If you close one eye looking at something that is close to you will see one view and if you close the other eye you will see another view and your brain fuses the two images together. But if you close each eye looking at something far away you would see no difference between the two and that would happen if you were using a long lens. The way you would mimic a stereo image is to separate those two components so they would mimic the distance you are away but when you are doing that, one camera is shooting one way and the other is shooting another way so they would have different backgrounds and it won’t cohere. So the state of the art at the moment is it’s not possible to use long lenses and that is a very considerable problem when it comes to natural history programmes.”
The Bachelor King 3D features a dramatic soundtrack and 3D Focus was keen to ask Anthony Geffen how audio was used to enhance the story…
“Sound is an important medium. Tonight we were really working the speakers. This is going out in the cinema next year after it premieres on Sky 3D so it needs to sound like a movie. Also 3D has an impact on sound; there is a slight delay and we are working with that. I think we need to be very creative with it.”
Although the documentary appears to follow one King Penguin, lots of different King Penguins were filmed to composite one story. After the Frozen Planet polar bear row, Dermot Murnaghan raised the issue with David Attenborough and Anthony Geffen who were keen to defend The Bachelor King 3D against a potential similar backlash…
"Our story was to cover at least eighteen months and you can't be there for eighteen months so you are going to have to use different penguins to show different stages of their lives. The story is held together with conviction because of the skill of the editor. He made you think it was the same penguin." explained David Attenborough.
Noting the end of credits disclaimer informing the viewer of the use of multiple penguins, a reporter asked if the disclaimer was inserted since the Frozen Planet row to which Anthony Geffen replied…"We were always aware of what we were trying to do with this film which was to composite a story and we felt people should be made aware of that at the end of the film. At the same time, any broadcaster after the discussions about Frozen Planet would have made sure there was no misunderstanding.”
The Bachelor King 3D will be followed by Kingdom of Plants 3D, a look at the life of plants, set in Kew Gardens of which a preview was shown during the premiere. Using 3D macro-photography, The Kingdom of Plants 3D was undoubtedly impressive proving the impact stereoscopic filming can have on close-up filming. During the evening, Anthony Geffen announced a new three part 3D documentary about the Galapagos Islands. Galapagos 3D will be the first production to be produced by Colossus Productions – a 3D production joint venture between Sky 3D and Atlantic Productions.
The Bachelor King 3D is a 75 minute film which will air exclusively on Sky 3D on New Year’s Eve 2011 at 8pm.
Production Company: Atlantic Productions
DoP Stereographer: Paul Williams
Post Sterographer: Richard Lloyd
Equipment Providers: OnSight
Stereography Consultants: Vision 3
FREE WEEKLY 3D NEWS BULLETIN – SUBSCRIBEFollow @3dfocuslive