Sir David Attenborough: 3D for 'TV programs that really mean something'

Sir David Attenborough is a fan of the power of 3D but only within reason. The legendary wildlife documentary presenter has praised the extra dimension for of the added impact that nature films can make on audiences in the modern day.

Speaking at the world premier of his movie for Sky 3D, Flying Monsters 3D, the 84-year-old was quick to point out how his team were careful to film in 3D what 3D does best rather than just using it for the gimmick of popping animals out of the screen. He said:

“3D gives added perception and understanding of how nature works. We can now show bones coming out from the rock to make the fossil remains come to life.”

“I don’t think 3DTV will become wallpaper. It’s going to be event TV. It’s for important programs. It’s not going to be any good for trivia. It’s for TV programs that really mean something.”

The Flying Monsters 3D documentary centres round the prehistoric airborne reptiles known as the Terrasaurs, and much of what’s seen is computer generated action on top of a real life filmed background. Even so, the processing of shooting came as something of a surprise for one of TV’s oldest hands.

“It’s a great shock to go to a 3D shoot from being used 2D all my life. It’s more than just getting the same shots for 2D in 3D. It’s a huge team. Suddenly, there’s 12 people just to work on the camera, and four to carry it.”

By the same token, it’s clear that Sir David has recognised the limitations of the medium in making nature programs. When asked whether he thought 3D had a place in films about modern day animals that require no CGI, he replied:

“We have to be realistic. I can take the 2D gear out to creep up on a gazelle or track a charging elephant but you just can’t do that with this stuff. This was ideal; something we could handle.”

For same reason, the next 3D project that he’ll be making along with the same production company, Atlantic Productions, will be set following the lives of the penguins of the island of South Georgia.

“It’s no accident we picked them,” said CEO of Atlantic and producer of Flying Monsters 3D Anthony Geffin. “Penguins stand around and don’t mind what you do. There’s also the underwater filming which will look fantastic in 3D as well.”

Flying Monsters 3D is Sir David’s first production with Sky 3D and despite having to cross the floor in order to get such an ambitious project made, he was clear where his loyalties still remain.

“I’m absolutely a BBC man though and through. iPlayer cost the BBC lots of money. They can’t do everything. One fault of the BBC in the past is that it’s erred on the side of trying to do just that. It’s not true that they’re not doing something about 3D. They are. There is a 3D team. They just haven’t launched a network for 3D like Sky.”

Flying Monsters 3D airs on Christmas Day on Sky 3D.