OSF to film pandas in 3D for Sky

11th March, 2013

Another exciting project has been commissioned by Sky and ONSIGHT is delighted to be involved again.  Having worked with Oxford Scientific Films on the successful Meerkats 3D, the team is now mid production on a new one-off natural history film, focusing on pandas in China. ONSIGHT is providing full production facilities from the shoot through to post production.

Read more below, as announced in Broadcast.  Watch this space for details of our work.

Sky has ordered a 3D documentary from Oxford Scientific Films (OSF) about China’s endangered giant pandas, which will be shot in 4K.

The indie has travelled to the Wolong National Nature Reserve to film the rare animals for a co-production with the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association and the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda.

Pandas 3D (working title) is the first film OSF has produced in the super-high-definition 4K format, and it will also be given a theatrical release.

It captures the pandas at a critical time in their history. After decades of captive breeding, there are now 300 giant pandas at the reserve and expert Zhang Hemin is facing the challenge of introducing them into the wild. OSF is in the final stages of 60 days of shooting, following newborn panda twins in Bifengxia as they switch between their mother and being bottle fed in an incubator.

The doc will also show young bears playing on swings and slides in a panda crèche, and being taken to a school to educate children. It will also reveal the efforts made to encourage the animals to breed by showing them videos of other pandas having sex, and show scientists dressed in panda suits helping with their reintegration into the wild.

OSF creative director Caroline Hawkins said shots including baby pandas crawling towards the camera and being held by their mothers were dramatically improved by being filmed in 3D. “3D gives the footage an intimacy and reality that it wouldn’t otherwise have and makes the content totally immersive,” she said.

“Filming in the wild in 3D is tough because the kit is designed for film and sport rather than natural history, but OSF has always been a technical pioneer.” She added that filming in 4K with two 3D cameras made storing all the footage a significant challenge, particularly because two back-up copies are required for safety.

Sky director of 3D John Cassy, who ordered the doc, said: “Giant pandas have an enduring appeal – we have seen time and time again how fascinated people are about their lives and habits.” Pandas 3D will be exec produced by OSF’s Jeremy Bradshaw and Clare Birks with Sky’s Chris Wilson. It follows Boom Pictures- owned OSF’s Meerkats 3D doc for National Geographic and Sky.

Written by Alex Farber for Broadcast Magazine 08/03/2013.