Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see the world from a bird’s eye view? To soar high above the landscape, getting an entirely different perspective on everyone and everything around you? Who hasn’t? Birds are creatures that have a completely different experience than mammals down on the ground, and looking up into the sky, it’s easy to wish to glide among them.
BBC Earth’s latest release, Earthflight, allows you to do exactly that. Through a combination of technology, drones, tame birds, and other elements, one of the planet’s best nature documentary organizations brings us something new and fresh. Earth Flight shows us what it’s like to see down from the sky as our avian friends take flight over a variety of environments, both man-made and natural.
The series is divided into six hours. The first five, “North America, “Africa,” “Europe,” South America,” and “Asia and Australia,” divide up the territories in a familiar manner. Concentrating on one continent per episode, several individual species of birds are chosen in each region and profiled in depth. It’s an oft-used organizational structure, but one that continues to work here, as it has done for others in the past.
Earthflight isn’t just giving us a look through their eyes, but also how they live. We see the birds hunt for food and shelter, cope with predators, and interact with other species. This makes it similar to other nature specials, but the visual perspective is what gives it its uniqueness, so it still stands apart, even as it covers done-before material. Besides, given the huge range of different birds on Earth, there are still plenty of types left to be explored without repeating what’s come before it.
The sixth part, “Flying High,” is what amounts to a special feature on this release. Though aired as its own installment, there are no other extras, and “Flying High” covers much of what the expected bonus material would have. It shows us how the series is made, what techniques are effective in filming this way, and basically lets the viewer appreciate the sheer amount of work that went into the four years of filming.
Visually, as one might surmise, Earthflight is stunning. It is filmed in high definition, so the Blu-ray format is recommended even more highly than for other nature programs. The sheer quality of detail is very impressive, and the viewpoint is one audiences will not soon forget. To really appreciate the beauty of this vantage point, Blu-ray is a must.
As for the audio, well, that isn’t nearly as big a priority for the filmmakers. Earthflight is merely stereo, squandering opportunity to be completely immersed in this world. It’s hard to complain, given that we haven’t seen picture like this before, but even still, one wishes there had been a bit more put into capturing better sound. Can you imagine if the sound of flapping wings were all around you, really feeling like part of the flock, as the camera flew? That’s the one thing that Earthflight really lacks.
Still, it’s worth repeating that this is a project like no other, well worth your valuable time to check out. It may not have been possible, technologically speaking, to film something like this before now, and there may be future efforts that are even more spectacular. For now, though, Earthflight is the first serious contender in this arena, and given the total package, it presents a pretty stunning opportunity.
Earthflight is available now.
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