Hundreds of people of all ages crowded the Michigan Theater to see a presentation part of the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series: the Blue Planet and Planet Earth Production Teams: “Capturing the Wild.” The team traveled around the world to places you and I will probably never see in order to expose the beautiful planet we call home.
To introduce the evening, the representative from the U-M Museum of Natural History’s William R. Farrand Memorial Lecture announced the museum’s grand reopening, special thanks to the support from U-M Institute for the Humanities. Then the lights went out and the room was pitch black. Out of the darkness, the audience saw a piercing light from the ceiling. Under the light is a helmet. Then attached to the helmet, a man descended from the ceiling attached to a rope assembly with the headlamp. Tim Fogg. What an entrance. He, the rope access specialist, landed and met his wife and co-specialist, Pam Fogg, on stage to share their experience in making Planet Earth and its companion BBC show, Blue Planet Production. I was astounded by the teamwork necessary to make this film happen. Other speakers include Hugh-Jones and Rachael Butler. Without going too far into details in the production, it was clear that they and anyone else on the team each served as a vital part of the team, and in very particular ways. For example, Hugh-Jones discussed how the videocamera needs to be on a completely flat surface, but in nature, this is hard to come by…especially on a cliff in the polar regions. While they were shooting the gaping glacier entrance, they wanted to get the perfect angle to view the opening of the cave which would be from the middle of the glacial wall surrounding the entrance, stacking thousands of feet above ground. So, they had an expert team (of what I would guess are mastermind physicists) contruct a platform INTO THE GLACIAL WALL. It was somehow suspended safety into the steep siding and steady for the videographer to sit for hours on end while they get the best coverage. Another element that amazed me was the exclusive sitings that they had to strategic placement of cameras based on knowledge of the land (for this job a biologist or zoologist seems suitable) and the animals that inhabit the land. This photo was taken by a camera hidden alongside a mountain.
Not to mention the patience during this entire process! So two things that I wondered during this presentation:
- How many different careers were pooled into the Planet Earth team? The presentation accounted for potentially pilots, physicists, zoologists, videographers, divers, doctors…what else? This is reassuring to young people out there who don’t know what to do with their career paths. With such a diverse team, maybe you too could apply your skills to the Planet Earth group.
- If these people have traveled all over the world to places unseen by man, does the world feel small to them? What is it that makes the world feel small? Is it traveling to many places? Or knowing many people? Reading many books about different cultures? What do you think?