Very much looking forward to seeing Planet Earth II with Sir David Attenborough starting next Sunday on BBC1 in the UK. The first episode is titled Islands.
My involvement in the project was to retouch and colour grade the stills and 4k+ video grabs for The Book that accompanies the series. Thanks goes to the Editor Kate Fox and the Project Editor Roz Kidman Cox for asking me to do the work.
Television shows images in RGB and has a high brightness and contrast range, paper in comparison has a very low colour and tone range that starts off with a creamy white for the highlights and then makes up the rest of the colour and tone by darkening the paper with Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black process inks.
The challenge is to retain all important highlight and shadow detail but keep a good dynamic contrast and colour in the mid tones and overall, this does mean quite an involved grading process using multiple layers and adjustments to get this right. (I discussed this split grading in my recent workshop).
Stills from the actual footage is used in parts of the book to show key sequences, the challenge here is to match the colour and tone from multiple cameras and keep the sequences flowing, much like colour grading for TV.
Careful use of deshake was made to help minimise the inevitable motion blur caused by the lower shutter speeds in video capture.
Increasing use of 4k, 5k and 6k cameras (mainly from RED) has broadened and looks to revolutionise the future of stills capture. 21% of images in the Planet Earth II book were from video grabs compared to 9.5% used in the BBC book Life Story in 2014.
I’m currently working on documenting the workflow so that it may help with defining some of the standards that will inevitably emerge from this field, if you are a software or hardware company involved with high resolution video and would like to join in improving the stills workflow I would love for you to get in touch so we can explore this area.
If you have a book project or have been experiencing repro or other problems using stills and video grabs then get in touch and I can see if I can help.