Last year NatGeo raised the bar in what live event television could really be with Earth Live, a two-hour broadcast utilizing cameras all around the globe to showcase the animal kingdom to the world. That risky project paid off and this week, a similarly ambitious and unprecedented endeavour in Yellowstone Live begins airing the first segment of what can only be described as an epic and exciting four-day live show, the likes of which we've never seen before.
Yellowstone Live will employ more than 34 live cameras and innovative new cell-phone bundling technology to capture and showcase one of the most beautiful and dynamic ecosystems in the world. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is spread across 2.2 million acres of habitat and partially protected by the America's first national park. Yellowstone is also home to one of the world's 30 active super-volcanos - and the only one on land. Viewers can count on seismic activity to be a part of the show which begins broadcasting live tomorrow, and continuing over four evenings.
The four-night multi-platform event begins Sunday, August 5, at 9 PM ET/ 6 PM PT, with an hour each evening. NatGeo is making this all possible by working again with four-time Emmy winning producer Al Berman and his Berman Productions company who created and produced Earth Live last year. He and his company are the best at large-scale live productions and continue to raise the bar with increasingly ambitious projects, and to bring Yellowstone Live to life Berman again teams with UK-based Plimsoll Productions (Earth Live, Hostile Planet) who Berman describes as "the best at what they are, are the best natural history television producers around."
A project such as Yellowstone Live has never been attempted and its only made possible by the collaborative production teams, NatGeo's proven track record and brand, relationships with key players in Yellowstone, innovative use of tech, extensive pre-planning, and award-winning crews and talent behind the camera.
The broadcast itself will be hosted by Josh Elliott who will be joined in-studio by returning co-host from Earth Live, animal expert Chris Packham. The studio itself is a century-old ruined barn that was cleaned up and retrofitted into a two-level facility with a command center at the bottom, and a live set on the upper level and outdoors, with cameras that can pan around to showcase the beauty of the lands of Montana. There will even be a live seismograph ready to showcase any readings in case a few of the 3000-per-year earthquakes in the region happen to hit during the broadcast. There are also contingencies in place for all manner of happenings, from extreme weather conditions to exciting animal encounters. Not even the hosts know what the audiences will witness until it happens!
"I grew up with the gold border magazine on my coffee table. Even in an age where these have taken more photos than in the whole of photographic history prior to smartphones, there is something about National Geographic. There's just something about the images they capture and to be able to tell the stories that underlie those images, just to be a small part of this remarkable operation has been a great thing."
- Josh Elliot
In the field will be roving reporter Jenna Wolfe who will spend the first episode Sunday from a helicopter and will be in the field during the other segments, getting up and close with wildlife and teaching viewers about key locations and the complex ecosystem of the historic sites.
Providing footage for Yellowstone Live will be the most elite team of National Geographic’s filmmakers and photographers, including Emmy Award-winning cinematographers Bob Poole (Earth Live) and Jeff Hogan (Wild Yellowstone). Helping provide expertise for the program will be ecologists Arthur Middleton and Joe Riis, wildlife filmmaker Bob Landis, and National Geographic wolf biologist Doug Smith, among others.
While the live nature of Yellowstone Live makes it largely unpredictable, everyone involved is hopeful of spotting wolves near their den, and the plan is for the broadcast to also include a few fun setups, from a fiber optic 4K camera inside a ground squirrel burrow, to demonstrating what can happen to an unsafe camp site with bears around. Some of these segments will be shot at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center.
"I think the message that is really important is that we're not making this, we're along for the ride. We're here watching the activity already in place."
- Jenna Wolfe
In addition to the live broadcast, viewers can learn more and gain behind-the-scenes access through NatGeo's YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Stay tuned from more on Yellowstone Live here on Screen Rant!
Yellowstone Live airs Sunday, August 5, though Wednesday, August 8, at 9 PM ET/ 6 PM PT.