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Global HD Natural History series launches

May 7, 2004

Global HD Natural History series launches

One of NHNZ’s biggest ever natural history series begins shooting next week.

Equator is a six-part, multi-million dollar project exploring the ‘circle of life’ around the Earth.

The series, the first ever to undertake this epic challenge using high-definition technology, is a co-production between New Zealand-based NHNZ, NHK in Japan, France 5 and Discovery HD Theatre in the US.

The massive Equator shoot is scheduled to take almost two years with the New Zealand and Japanese crews set to film 350 species in 21 countries over three continents and over three oceans. The shoot will take the crews from the Andes in South America, to the Rift Valley in Africa and the rainforests of Borneo, the first time high definition cameras will be used in such extreme environments.

During the Pacific Atoll shoot two crews will work simultaneously, one underwater, the other topside. The crews will travel 6,300 kilometres during the filming (25 times the longer than the equator itself), and record 200 hours-plus of high definition tape for the eventual six hour series.

Managing Director of NHNZ, Michael Stedman says Equator is indicative of the company’s place as a world leader in blue chip natural history television.

“In recent years NHNZ has branched out into all documentary genres and our flexibility and adaptability have made us very successful at making these other types of programmes. But Equator represents the big scale, high-end natural history series that NHNZ has built its reputation on.”

Executive Producer for NHNZ, Peter Hayden describes the series as “a celebration of the forces of nature”.

“Equator is about the forces that shape our world. It is about the power of the sun and its effect on the vast numbers of species that live along the equator. We will also try and discover why species in this region adapt and evolve faster, and in more extreme ways, than anywhere else on earth.”

Hayden adds that Equator and High Definition television represent a perfect meeting of technology and subject.

“Equator is a story that many people have wanted to tell. But it is only with the development of High Definition that we have the ability to do justice to the incredible subject matter. High Definition television will soon be the medium of choice for the global audience and once this technology has been experienced there is no going back.”

NHK’s Executive Producer for Science and Environmental programming, Ikeo Masaru notes that the equator is a symbolic as well as a natural force.

“We separate the world into the northern and southern hemispheres, but the equator also unites the world, from Africa to South America to the Pacific. It connects all the global regions.”

The equatorial region covers six percent of the total area of the earth, but is home to sixty-six percent of all known plant and animal species. It is a place of extremes: of heat, of cold, of moisture, of aridity. It is where some of the most bizarre and magnificent species can be found, where human life had its origins and is home to our closest primate relatives.

“The word equator conjures images of hot, humid rainforests. We know these conditions allow species to thrive, but within the equatorial region there are the peaks of the Andes, the plains of Africa and the archipelago of the Galapagos Islands. All unique and wonderful places, but all extremely diverse from one another”, says Hayden.

Adding to the magnificence of the narrative, Equator will be filmed in High Definition, providing resolution five times better than existing television picture quality. Through this visual clarity Equator will reveal the vastness and majesty of nature while also providing an unprecedented level of detail in every shot.

High Definition television is firmly established in Japan with an estimated six million households already using the technology. Ikeo-san says the widespread use of High Definition will add to the popularity of the Equator series.

“People in Japan are used to High Definition now. We have news, sports and drama in High Definition, but it is in science and nature programming where this technology is at its most spectacular. The Equator series will be much anticipated in countries already familiar with High Definition television.”

In the United States there are approximately 10 million households with high definition televisions, with this number steadily increasing every year.


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