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Life & Style Weekend - - TREND - With Seanna Cronin

DO YOUR­SELF a favour and clear your sched­ule for this Wed­nes­day night. If there was ever a time to sit down in front of the telly, then this is it. Don't worry, it's not brain-numb­ing pol­i­tics or rage-in­duc­ing re­al­ity TV.

Chan­nel 9 will fi­nally be­gin screen­ing Sir David At­ten­bor­ough's ac­claimed se­ries Planet Earth II.

A nat­u­ral his­tory pro­gram like this only comes along once ev­ery decade or so. It's been 10 years, in fact, since the first Planet Earth se­ries gave a truly global view of the state of the world's ecosys­tems.

Planet Earth was the first nat­u­ral his­tory se­ries to be filmed in high def­i­ni­tion, cap­ti­vat­ing a global au­di­ence of more than half a bil­lion peo­ple, and boasted stun­ning aerial footage shot from he­li­copters us­ing gyro-sta­bilised cam­eras.

For the se­quel, film­mak­ers are tak­ing a more in­ti­mate ap­proach to best make use of the new cam­era tech­nolo­gies that have de­vel­oped over the past decade (in­clud­ing 4K res­o­lu­tion).

Drones and hand-held sta­bilis­ers al­low cam­eras to get right in the thick of the ac­tion and up close and per­sonal with everything from Ko­modo dragons to pen­guins, swim­ming sloths and elu­sive snow leop­ards.

You've likely al­ready seen some amaz­ing footage from the se­ries thanks to another de­vel­op­ment of the past decade: so­cial me­dia.

The show's ex­tended trailer has been viewed nearly 50 mil­lion times on Face­book. Heart-stop­ping footage of a baby marine iguana nar­rowly avoid­ing dozens of snakes has been viewed more than four mil­lion times on Face­book.

“There's still quite a lot of de­bate about how much we should re­lease in ad­vance of the se­ries,” ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Mike Gun­ton tells me.

“If you're a tra­di­tional film­maker then the worst thing is to give out spoil­ers, but the so­cial me­dia gu­rus say, no you want to put it out there. That's quite coun­ter­in­tu­itive to a film­maker. I thought, ‘these (so­cial me­dia) guys know what they're do­ing, let them take this on'. It was the right call; they were dead right.”

I had the plea­sure of pre­view­ing the first two episodes of Planet Earth II and I can tell you that that vi­ral clip of the baby iguana is just a taste of the amaz­ing footage cap­tured in the Gala­pa­gos Is­lands.

Planet Earth II pre­mieres Wed­nes­day at 7.30pm on Nine.

PHOTO: CHADDEN HUNTER

Cam­era­man Jonathan Jones fo­cuses on a har­vest mouse. Film­ing the small­est ro­dent in Eu­rope for Planet Earth II re­quired spe­cialised “scope’’ lenses.

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