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PBS, Discovery Canada prep “Earth From Space”

U.S. pubcaster PBS, Discovery Canada and the UK's Darlow Smithson Productions are teaming up for a groundbreaking two-hour coproduction which will use real-time scientific data to create CGI video of natural events.
February 2, 2011

U.S. pubcaster PBS, Discovery Canada and the UK’s Darlow Smithson Productions are teaming up for a groundbreaking two-hour coproduction which will use real-time scientific data to create CGI video of natural events, realscreen can reveal.

The tentatively titled two-hour special Earth From Space is being made by Darlow Smithson to air on PBS’s Nova strand. Howard Swartz, exec producer for WGBH-TV/Nova, told realscreen: “The special will see NASA scientists taking raw data from satellite feeds and sending it to animators, who will turn it into real-time animation.”

Nova played an early CGI clip from the project – showing water molecules amassing to form a hurricane – at the Keeping It Cool: Science And Natural History session at the Realscreen Summit in Washington DC yesterday.

Discovery Channel president and general manager Clark Bunting was among those impressed by the footage, describing the clip as “jaw-dropping” and telling delegates: “I could easily see that [working] on the Discovery Channel.”

Earth From Space is one of two specials being made by Darlow Smithson for Nova. The Endemol-owned production company is also in the early stages of development on another two-hour production, tentatively entitled Life Beyond Earth. That special will use CGI to show presenters walking on the surface of planets such as Jupiter and Venus.

Nova expects to air one of the specials this year and one in 2012, although it is yet to be decided which will play first.

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About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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