Planet Earth III
Taming a Beast


Journeying to the far reaches of our planet, this David Attenborough, eight part series follows some of the world’s most amazing species, telling extraordinary stories that are dramatic, thrilling, funny and sometimes heart-breaking, but always full of hope.

Post producing landmark natural history series is both challenging and rewarding. The editorial expectations along with the creative and technical demands of a series of 8 x 1 hours, with additional versions for international distribution, requires a master class in workflow planning and logistics to ensure that the quality threshold is reached and delivery targets met.

Workflow Supervisors and Post Producers are often unsung heroes but as most production teams know they are invaluable to the successful delivery of a large, complex series like Planet Earth 3.

Dave Cawte, workflow supervisor of many a challenging project, explains his role. “I get involved at the very beginning of a project; planning ahead and establishing and supervising the workflow through the various post stages to ensure that we have robust yet flexible processes. I have to understand the camera formats used – in natural history they are extensive – determine the impact of those on the final deliverables and how we best move through post. This requires regular dialogue with the production team – EA’s and PM’s, Producers and Editors – as well as our internal teams to ensure that image quality is front and centre of the process and with this knowledge of plan accordingly. Inevitably, situations arise that you have not planned for! Final post is a fast moving environment so being in the mix to anticipate potential pinch points, manage the daily churn, resolves issues and supervise the handovers between the various links in the post chain is key to keeping things on track”

With Dave taking care of the technical aspects of the series the overall project management was in the hands of Post Producer Hayley Shipman, who has managed a succession of high profile series this year including another Attenborough landmark, Wild Isles, and the Netflix series Life On Our Planet. Each project presents its own challenges Hayley explains. “Planet Earth….was a beast! Post-producing a natural history series is a complex and challenging undertaking, especially when you have eight episodes in the series all of which are in full post at once. It requires the coordination of multiple teams and is a huge logistical challenge. You are constantly managing everyone’s expectations vs time, budget and deadlines. The Post Producer is the linchpin for all the post which creates a huge volume of work and prioritising your daily workload is key. The hardest challenge to overcome with the Planet Earth series was navigating all of the above alongside the complex workflow and deliverables that these projects demand. It is a fairly non-standard workflow and set of deliveries which takes some getting used to as they don’t follow a lot of the standard conventions. This becomes even more challenging when you are delivering up against a tx slot!

Unexpected challenges are inevitable on any post-production project but despite all the challenges that Planet Earth 3 threw my way, post-producing a natural history series is a really rewarding experience and lots of fun – once it’s over!

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