PBS, Discovery Canada prep Earth From Space


(Photo from NASA and the NSSDC)

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.

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 on Tuesday .

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.

From realscreen