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NHNZ Combines Science Fiction With Natural History

For immediate release June 18 2004

NHNZ combines science fiction with natural history

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NHNZ’s Spider Power uses science fiction special effects to bring the brutal world of spiders to life.

The documentary is a co-production with National Geographic Channels and has been timed to coincide with the recent release of Spider Man II.

Drawing heavily from the first person style popular in video games and using effects such as ‘bullet time’ animation, Spider Power is an extreme departure from traditional natural history. But its producer and cinematographer, Stephen Downes says the graphics can only add to the power of the information being conveyed.

“In this programme we will enter the spider’s world. Some of these spiders may be tiny, but they are fascinating, ferocious, bizarre and brutal. It is like an alien war going on every day at a minute level.”

A co-production between NHNZ and National Geographic Channels, Spider Power examines the nightmarish world of arachnid warfare. From the primitive tarantulas, to a spider such as the South East Asian Portia Fimbriata, that can actually understand a given situation and change their attack strategies accordingly.

“The way that Portia ambushes and attacks its prey is almost unique in the invertebrate world. While all spiders are effective hunters, most act purely on instinct with only one method of attack. Portia will evaluate a situation and examine the prey and the environment before mounting the best attack possible. It is an arachnid with the hunting capabilities of a small mammal.”

Alongside the animation and CGI is Downes’ own ultra-close up cinematography, revealing in minute detail the vast array of spider weaponry.

“The most sophisticated spiders are quite small. When people think of scary spiders most imagine tarantulas. Despite what they look like, tarantulas are quite passive. They are also the least evolved member of the spider family. When you get up close to the world of these smaller spiders such as Portia you see that they are the super-predators - the lions and tigers – of the spider world.”

NHNZ Is One Of The World’s Leading Producers Of Factual Programming Embracing The Genres Of Nature, Health, Science, Adventure, And People. With Over 60 Programmes Currently In Production, Its Crews Work In Locations Around The World To Produce A Diversity Of Films For International Broadcasters Including Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, Discovery Health, National Geographic Channel, France 5, NHK In Japan And NDR In Germany. Based In Dunedin, New Zealand, The Company Is Wholly Owned By Fox Television Studios.


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