The Green Planet Dunedin, NZ

This project is an ongoing work in progress.

"The Green Planet" is showcasing locations I know and love. I imagine how they might look like entirely without any human impact. As the title suggests, this involves mainly planting a lot of (virtual) trees, since massive deforestation has been and still is, the main visible impact of human habitation worldwide.

The title can also be interpreted as a commentary on blue chip documentaries, like the "Blue Planet" series by the BBC, which spent years in the making and several million dollar budgets to depict a world that is apparently a paradise, totally devoid of human habitation and in reality non existent. Sometimes it is just the framing that leaves the oil refinery in the background out of the picture, often it is long expensive shoots for wildlife photographers, trying to get that one convincing shot, sometimes it is post-production wizardry and sometimes it is specialist filming locations, which are set up for well-paying film crews so they can film a jaguar "in the wild" although they can be hardly found there anymore. Either way these documentaries feed a public hungry for the natural, undisturbed world and they may have to take some responsibility for the perception by parts of the public that things are not as bad as being told by scientists, who talk of being in the "Anthropocene", and having a "Sixth Mass Extinction". In that sense the "Green Planet" can be seen as a caricature of a blue chip documentary, visually eliminating us humans even from densely populated areas for a moment. On the positive side they may also offer glimpses into a possible future that includes "re-wilding" of large areas of the planet as a tool for long term survival of the human species.

On the technical side this journey is an exploration into Real Time Render Pipelines and what they can deliver for high quality film work. This is clearly inspired by the groundbreaking use of game engines and real time rendering in the "Mandalorian" series. So far the results have been very promising for me once a scene has been set up (which is still a very time-consuming factor). Although on my laptop I am still far away from real time rendering, in particular when doing 4K frames but the renders are done fast and efficiently, cutting a lot of overhead. For the terrain I used freely available GIS data, so if a large rock, that is familiar to you, is not there or depicted askew, then that may be attributed to the relatively low resolution satellite coverage of New Zealand's terrain.

For those unfamiliar with Dunedin, here are some pictures from the web, showing how very beautiful the city and the Otago peninsula look even today.

Following this intro here are now three virtual video flyovers, showing Dunedin and the Otago peninsula how I imagine they might look like without human habitation. I recommend watching the clips not embedded, but in full screen in HD resolution (by clicking on the YouTube link, that comes up, when starting the video) and also to have the sound turned on, since the abundant bird life is a signature characteristic of the NZ wilderness. The early European settlers described the bird song back then as “deafening”.

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St. Clair to City Central

This is the first of three clips exploring the location of the city of Dunedin and the Otago peninsula in New Zealand/Aotearoa.

The Camera Path over Dunedin City

Taiaroa Head

The entrance to the Otago harbour with the albatross colony.

The Camera Path for this Shot

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Into Lower Portobello

For this last clip I wanted to get in closer, sweep through the bush and see the flora and fauna up close and personal. There is even a brief appearance of a Moa in this clip.

The Camera flying into Lower Portobello

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