Were the dolphins friendly?
Did you help any animals, and if not, why?
Did your crew find themselves in any danger from the animals while they were filming?
These were just some of the questions 1,000 students and teachers from 60 schools across the country posed to Dr. Penny Allen, one of the producers of PLANET EARTH, during a Discovery Educator Network (DEN) webinar this week on Discovery Channel´s ground-breaking series. Students and teachers from the mostly upper elementary classes were given a special behind-the-scenes look at the filming of PLANET EARTH by Allen, a producer with the BBC.
The webinar, a web conference, allowed the students to simultaneously speak and listen to Allen, see photos from the program and participate in a live chat with other classrooms. The students had already previewed the program in their classrooms and prepared questions to send to the producer. Discovery Educations´ Matt Monjan, Account Services Coordinator, moderated the chat and was joined by Scott Kinney, Director, Discovery Educator Network and Steve Dembo, Online Community Manager, Discovery Educator Network.
Allen – joining the webinar from London – shared her many incredible experiences filming the world´s most fascinating animals and habitats. When asked about her favorite place to film, Allen quickly responded, "The Redwood Forest (in California)." Allen talked about the beauty of the trees and the thrill of climbing up them. "I was surrounded by trees 300 feet high. It was a magical cathedral and I haven´t gotten over the excitement of being amongst those trees," she continued.
Allen fielded many questions that ranged subjects from the behavior of the animals, "Are dolphins friendly?" (Yes, bottle-nose dolphins are very curious and playful to humans, but not always to each other.), to filming techniques, "How did you get video of the shark in slow motion?" (A special camera allowed them to film 1,000 frames per second and capture the whole shark attack in one second, which they slowed down 400 times.)
The students and teachers were eager to learn about the little known details about the production of PLANET EARTH, such as scenes that didn´t make the series. Allen shared how she worked on the filming of a plague of caterpillars stripping a forest bed over the course of four weeks and being "eaten by mosquitoes," only to find out later that the scene would not be included in the final program. Students also heard about Allen´s encounters with pollution. During the filming for Deep Oceans, Allen said it didn´t matter where she and the crew found themselves, they would see bits of rubbish and trash floating in the water.
Debbie Bohanan, a teacher from Reedy Creek Elementary School in Kissimmee, Florida, summed up the message of PLANET EARTH and the goal of the DEN webinar, "The message they are sending out is that we live on a spectacular planet and it is up to us to save it for future generations to enjoy."
Upcoming Webinar: Space Week, Friday, May 4
Join the Discovery Educator Network next Friday, May 4 at 1 PM (ET) for a special webinar with allan Butler, producer of The Science Channel´s first ever SPACE WEEK.
Allan is an Executive Producer at Discovery Channel and The Science Channel in Silver Spring, Maryland. Over the past three years, he has overseen the production of over 150 hours of documentary films for these two networks, including such acclaimed shows as TOMB BUIDLERS: SECRETS OF THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS, DISCOVRIES THIS WEEK and BLIND HOPE, the story of one man´s courageous quest to regain his eyesight using an experimental brain implant; and live coverage of the most recent Space Shuttle launch.
Current productions include:
*GEOLOGIC JOURNEY, a voyage across North America to discover its major geologic features
*HATSHEPSUT, a forensic detective mystery to track down a long lost female Egyptian Pharaoh
*EXPLORING TIME, an National Science Foundation funded series that examines the varied timeframes in which the earth´s systems operate
Allan has also been involved in the production of dozens of programs about space exploration, and is overseeing the Science Channel´s special slate of space programming known as SPACE WEEK 2007, which takes place the week of May 6th, 2007.
To register for the webinar, contact Jennifer Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org or 240-662-2377.
About Discovery Education
Discovery Education is a division of Discovery Communications, the leading global real-world and knowledge-based media company. The leader in digital video-based learning, Discovery Education produces and distributes high-quality digital video content in easy-to-use formats, in all core-curricular subject areas. Discovery Education is committed to creating scientifically proven, standards-based digital resources for teachers, students, and parents that make a positive impact on student learning. Through strategic partnerships with public television stations across the country, its public service initiatives, products, and joint business ventures, Discovery Education helps educators around the world harness the power of broadband and media to connect their students to a world of learning. For more information, visit www.discoveryeducation.com.